(Quebec) Québec solidaire (QS) demands a formal apology from a member of Prime Minister François Legault’s close guard and does not rule out suing him for defamation.
In a message entitled “Online attacks by François Legault’s team: enough is enough”, of which The Canadian Press obtained a copy, the parliamentary leader of QS, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, accuses the CAQ of having tarnished the reputation of the MP Vincent Marissal.
“Since the outbreak of the CAQ political financing scandals, my colleague Vincent Marissal (…) has been targeted by increasingly aggressive attacks from the government,” he wrote.
Last Friday, Mr. Marissal recounted in an open letter that Mr. Legault had passed him in a corridor of the National Assembly and called him a “national mud thrower”.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary, Ewan Sauves, added in the media that Mr. Marissal ran for politics “on a lie”, referring to the fact that he had denied having flirted with the Liberal Party of Canada .
Employees of the CAQ’s political offices continued the offensive on social networks all weekend, with one high-ranking officer even accusing Mr. Marissal of having “cut corners” when he was a journalist.
“The author of this tweet, Manuel Dionne, (…) is the Prime Minister’s director of media relations. This kind of maneuver has a name. It’s smearing,” Mr. Nadeau-Dubois was indignant.
“It is not only an attack on the integrity and professional reputation of Vincent, (…) it is also an indirect threat towards all opposition deputies: be careful (…) otherwise, we will tell you make someone pay.
“Manuel Dionne must formally withdraw his comments and apologize to Vincent. It’s the bare minimum. We are evaluating what happens next and nothing is excluded at this stage,” added the supportive leader.
Mr. Dionne had not yet responded to questions from The Canadian Press on Monday evening.
Earlier Monday, PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon denounced the “aggressive partisanship” of the CAQ. “It comes from an unhealthy political will. This is not good for the climate,” he declared at a press briefing in Montreal.
“It’s part of the political game,” replied Mr. Sauves, Monday afternoon, in a message sent to The Canadian Press. Cabinet employees (…) are engaged citizens. This is also democracy.
“Now we realize that this is not the tone we want to give to the discussions. The goal is to set the record straight. We advocate a respectful tone,” he added.
Last Thursday, the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, addressed PQ MP Pascal Bérubé in a corridor of parliament, in front of the cameras, to remind him that he had also participated in a fundraising cocktail when he was Minister of Tourism .
Mr. Bérubé asked her if she wanted him to talk about her 42 fundraising cocktails.
Mme Guilbault was then preparing to hold a press briefing to respond to the bereaved couple who said they had to pay $200 to the CAQ to meet her. The story plunged the CAQ into embarrassment.
“The observation is alarming: the recent adventures in the National Assembly underline a chaotic start to the session for François Legault, leaving aside the real concerns of Quebecers,” lamented Monday the parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Monsef Derraji.
“The housing crisis and labor shortage demand urgent action, but the government appears distracted by partisan bickering. (…) It is time for the government (…) to regain the control necessary to respond effectively to these challenges,” he added.
The CAQ in turmoil
The CAQ has been in turmoil since January 23 due to controversies over its fundraising methods.
The Canadian Press revealed messages from CAQ MPs who invited municipal elected officials to party fundraising cocktails, suggesting that this would be an opportunity to advance issues.
Two CAQ elected officials, Sylvain Lévesque and Louis-Charles Thouin, are the target of an investigation by the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly.
There Electoral law provides that any citizen can contribute up to $100 per year to a political party, but without compensation.
The Canadian Press also learned that nearly half of the mayors, or 503 out of 1,138, have contributed to financing the CAQ since the 2021 municipal elections, for a total of nearly $100,000.
The sun had also revealed that Mme Guilbault and his colleague at the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, were by far the most popular ministers invited to CAQ fundraising cocktails. Incidentally, these are two ministries which award a lot of subsidies, the Parti Québécois (PQ) then pointed out.
QS accused the CAQ of having set up a financing “stratagem,” while the PQ mentioned a “systemic” financing method.
In recent months, the CAQ has seen its support plummet in the polls. François Legault’s party would now obtain 25% of voting intentions, compared to 32% for Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon’s PQ, according to the most recent Léger poll.