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Le Bouyonnec: Legault assures that he was not common

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Stéphane Le Bouyonnec is the former president of the CAQ and was a candidate in the riding of La Prairie in 2018. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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Prime Minister François Legault assures that he was not aware of the troubles of Deputy Minister Stéphane Le Bouyonnec, a former elected official of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ).

He was reacting to an investigation by La Press, which revealed Thursday that Mr. Le Bouyonnec would still have links with a usurious loan company, links which had nevertheless forced him to resign as president and candidate of the CAQ during the 2018 electoral campaign.

The opposition called on Thursday for the suspension of the deputy minister while waiting for the light to be shed.

Mr. Le Bouyonnec will even have to justify in court amounts that would have been transferred to repay a debt of the company's partners to organized crime, said a former manager of this company, Finabanx. The Canadian Press was unable to verify these allegations on Thursday.

Is the government able to tell you that it was not aware of the legal [problems]? asked PQ MP Pascal Bérubé. If the government knew about it, then kept it, we enter another dimension. In any case, it's very serious.

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Mr. Was Legault aware? No, he replied on the fly on his way to his office Thursday morning.

He said he asked the Secretary General of the Executive Council, Dominique Savoie, to do all the checks, then insisting: No, I was not aware.

Ms. Savoie is in a way the big boss of the entire public service.

What did François Legault know? asked the leader of the official opposition, Marc Tanguay, Thursday morning.

In a letter sent to Ms. Savoie, the Liberal ethics spokesperson, Monsef Derraji, calls for an immediate investigation to determine whether [M . Le Bouyonnec] contravened the ethical rules in force for holders of senior positions.

The Liberal leader calls for the suspension of this deputy minister who officiates at Ministry of Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs.

I don't really see how he can stay in office, MP Vincent Marissal of Québec Solidaire (QS) added shortly after. It is up to his friend, Mr. Legault, who appointed him there, to make the decisions.

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François Legault responds to journalists.

Friends of the CAQ , also hammered out Pascal Bérubé.

It is a partisan appointment because he is a former CAQ deputy and a former president of the party, he insisted, recalling how Mr. Legault, when he was in opposition, nevertheless denounced partisan appointments.

Does he have any competence that is essential to the government of Quebec? No. It's a classic case of partisan appointment.

The government increased Mr. Le Bouyonnec's annual salary from $197,303 to $228,642 at the start of the year, the PQ MP was pleased to point out.

Recently, the Prime Minister terminated the contract of a Deputy Minister of Education due to controversy, so he still has a decision to make take concerning Mr. Le Bouyonnec, judged Mr. Bérubé, without specifying whether he was talking about dismissing or suspending him.

If [Mr. Legault] does not do it, he will have to prove that, because [Mr. Le Bouyonnec] is the former president of the CAQ, former member of the CAQ and his friend, he is more competent than anyone to occupy a deputy minister position.

In 2018, Quebecor media revealed that Mr. Le Bouyonnec was both a shareholder and chairman of the board of directors of Finabanx. Remember that usurious lending is prohibited in Quebec, so the activities of this company take place in the rest of the country.

He then left his position at the head of Finabanx but had subsequently also given up the presidency of the CAQ and even his candidacy in La Prairie.

He had been elected for the first time in this riding in 2012 for the CAQ. The party founded the previous year presented candidates for the first time.

Mr. Bouyonnec was defeated in the 2014 elections but wanted to regain his seat in the 2018 election until the controversy over his interests in a usurious loan company splashed him.

He served as Associate Secretary General of the Executive Council, the Prime Minister's department, and became Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs on October 23, 2023.

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