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Quebec government in hot water with third MNA accused of ethics breach

As Quebec politicians made their return to the legislature Tuesday, Québec Solidaire’s Vincent Marissal accused a third CAQ MNA of soliciting donations in exchange for a meeting with a minister.

Marissal voiced the accusation during Question Period, referring to screenshots he had reportedly received of an exchange between CAQ MNA Yves Montigny and an entrepreneur from his riding.

During that exchange, Montigny allegedly invited the entrepreneur to a fundraiser cocktail party, with a $100 entrance fee, and informed him he could speak with the agriculture minister if he attended.

“Do Quebecers have reason to worry when they see the CAQ monetize access to their ministers?” Marissal asked.

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This latest allegation comes as Quebec’s Ethics Commissioner is investigating two other CAQ MNAs, Sylvain Lévesque and Louis-Charles Thouin, who are accused of issuing invitations to paid cocktail events to meet with ministers.

A recent La Presse Canadienne report also revealed more than 500 Quebec mayors have made donations to the CAQ since the last municipal election in 2021.

The CAQ government categorically denies the allegations.

“Access to ministers is not cashable,” Government House Leader Simon Jolin-Barrette said in the national assembly. “There are no short cuts, there is no advantage. Everyone is treated on the same equal footing.”

Jolin-Barrette says the opposition parties and previous governments were just as dependent on these cocktail events for financing, and denies invites were ever handed out in exchange for special treatment.

But opposition parties aren’t convinced.

The Parti-Québécois is calling on the government to implement recommendation number 57 of the Charbonneau commission report, which states that ministers and their staff members be prohibited from soliciting gifts or benefits to their political party.

PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon says he would banish ministers from attending paid cocktail events entirely if he were in power.

“What we see is that nothing was done in terms of the confidence of the electors, those recommendations were not followed up,” he said. “We take the commitment to follow up on those recommendations.”

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