Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Éethics : Claude Surprenant's file will be reopened

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The Commissioner for Ethics and Professional Conduct of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet, agrees to reopen Claude Surprenant's file, but warns it could set a “delicate precedent”. (Archive photo)

  • Jérôme Labbé (View profile)Jérôme Labbé

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The ethical investigation concerning the former CAQ MP Claude Surprenant will finally be relaunched. But Commissioner Mignolet warns that the exercise could create “a delicate precedent”. The code of ethics of the National Assembly, she recalls, “does not provide for any review mechanism.”

In a letter addressed to the presidency of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet affirms that she agrees to fulfill the mandate that the elected officials entrusted to her on Thursday by unanimously adopting a motion inviting her to determine whether the new elements linked to this file justify a new investigation.

I will proceed to the appointment of one or more; an ad hoc commissioner as soon as possible, she promises.

The Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly is, however, concerned to see the deputies indirectly asking her to relaunch the #x27;investigation, while Parliament has rightly delegated this power to it in order to shield this exercise from the influence of partisan motives.

By demanding, through a motion, that [I examine] whether new facts justify the reopening of an investigation file, the National Assembly is creating a delicate precedent, she writes.

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This way of proceeding on a case-by-case basis risks affecting the independence that the Commissioner must enjoy in determining whether or not to proceed with an investigation, which constitutes the basis of citizens' confidence in their democratic institutions. .

A quote from Ariane Mignolet, Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly

Not ruling out the possibility that this type of circumstance may arise again in the future, Ms. Mignolet invites elected officials to reassess the relevance of providing for review mechanisms in the codes governing the conduct of parliamentarians, emphasizing that ;other Canadian jurisdictions have seen fit to take advantage of it.

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Claude Surprenant served in the National Assembly from 2014 to 2018. (Archive photo)

Member of Parliament for Groulx from 2014 to 2018, Claude Surprenant was excluded from the Caucus caucus in 2017 due to allegations relating to irregularities in his expenses, then reprimanded by the National Assembly after the publication of a report of Ms. Mignolet's predecessor, Jacques Saint-Laurent.

However, the latter was, to carry out his investigation, based on the testimony of Julie Nadeau, a former employee of the MP, who was recently sentenced to prison for fraud, use of forgery and perjury – charges filed against her following an investigation by the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC).

This new development, according to the main person concerned, invalidates the Saint-Laurent report, an opinion visibly shared by the current deputies of the National Assembly, who did not not opposed to the motion tabled Thursday by the government's parliamentary leader, Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Called to react, Claude Surprenant said he was disappointed with the turn of events, comparing the relaunch of the investigation to the torture of gout. The ex-MP also doubts the neutrality of Ms. Mignolet, in particular because it was she who appointed Mr. Saint-Laurent to investigate her case in 2017.

Mr. Surprise is demanding an apology from the National Assembly, as well as compensation of $1 million, but no suit to this effect has yet been instituted.

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