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The CAQ open to putting an end to private financing of parties< /p>Open in full screen mode

Shocked by controversies over its financing methods, the CAQ government is considering outright banning the possibility for citizens to contribute to the financing of political parties.

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Criticized by the opposition who accuse it of monetizing access to its ministers, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) says it is ready to reopen the Electoral Act to put an end to the private financing of political parties if the other groups represented in the National Assembly agree.

The Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions, Jean-François Roberge, has made the announcement Wednesday morning on the floor, while he was accompanied by his colleague Bernard Drainville, who had presided over the overhaul of party financing rules when he was in the government Marois, from 2012 to 2014.

Since the opening of two investigations by the Ethics Commissioner, elected officials and CAQ leaders have vigorously defended themselves from having invited mayors to $100 cocktails by suggesting that they would be possible to meet a minister and advance their files.

We must stop peddling the idea that we can buy a minister with a donation of 100 piastres, insisted Mr. Drainville on Tuesday, before admitting that the wording of certain invitations had undoubtedly been clumsy.

There is no x27;access to ministers in exchange for the [requested] donation. That, if it needs to be clarified, it will be.

A quote from Bernard Drainville, Minister of Education and former Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions in the Marois government

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According to Mr. Drainville, the system he put in place, and which he believes is among the most democratic and demanding of all democracies, has served Quebec well in recent years, particularly to put an end to practices of nominees.

But we take note of what is being said, declared Minister Roberge, who made it known that his government, in context, was now open to funding that would ban political donations to become 100% public. To do this, liberals, solidarity and PQ must, however, agree, he added.

I think that the current law is very, very good, [but] if perceptions change […], the opposition wants us to reopen the discussion [and to do] a cross on public financing […], I am ready to open this discussion, indicated the minister.

However, Currently, none of the three opposition parties represented in the National Assembly are calling for such a thing.

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Since Tuesday, the solidarity MP for Rosemont, Vincent Marissal, has been hot on the heels of the Legault government on its financing practices.

I don't agree with that, reacted in an interview on Wednesday the solidarity spokesperson for ethics, Vincent Marissal who , on the show Midi info, accused the CAQ of wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

We must not hijack the debate, demonize people who give and think that these people are crooked, he argued. According to him, it was the CAQ that stretched the matter [sic], not the donors.

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“The CAQ is (again) trying to divert the subject when clearly things are heating up on the ethical side,” declared PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon on the X network on Wednesday.

The leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, also denounced a barely veiled diversion attempt on Wednesday on the X network.

As they say: nice effort, but no. All we ask of you is to stop questionable ethical practices which consist of monetizing access to your ministers.

A quote from Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the PQ

According to Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon, the government's latest proposal aims above all to harm the PQ, the party with the most popular donations and which mobilizes the most citizens.< /p>

On Tuesday, his party pledged to prohibit its ministers from participating in fundraising cocktails in the event of victory in the 2026 elections – a rule that would not, however, apply to other elected officials.

Such a solution would however be imperfect in the eyes of Minister Roberge, who noted on Wednesday that it would not prevent opposition parties who aspire to the power, like the PQ, to monetize access to elected officials likely to become ministers subsequently.

The CAQ is currently the subject of two investigations by the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet , which is currently looking into actions taken by MPs Sylvain Lévesque and Louis-Charles Thouin and brought to light by Radio-Canada and The Canadian Press.

On Tuesday, QS also made public screenshots of text messages sent by the CAQ MP for René-Lévesque, Yves Montigny, to an entrepreneur from the Côte-Nord to invite him to a fundraising cocktail.

I know we haven't always done what you wanted, but this is a great opportunity to speak to a minister!, written the MP, inviting his interlocutor to meet André Lamontagne as part of an event organized on November 16, and for which the entry price had been set at $100.

According to The Canadian Press, the team of Orford MP Gilles Bélanger also sent a similar invitation to mayors of the MRC of Memphrémagog by inviting them to a fundraising cocktail in the presence of the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault.

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The CAQ MP for Orford, Gilles Bélanger, did not respond to questions from the parliamentary press on Wednesday.

At the origin of the first two complaints to the Ethics Commissioner, QS sent two other requests for investigation to Ms. Mignolet's office on Wednesday.

The MPs targeted did not answer questions from journalists on Wednesday in Quebec. I invited a good acquaintance to come to a fundraising activity, said Yves Montigny upon his arrival at the CAQ caucus.

Gilles Bélanger remained silent in the morning. In the afternoon, however, the MP sent the media a written statement in which he explained that a volunteer activist sent invitations by email for his fundraising cocktail and that municipal elected officials appeared in this email list. That's all.

Never has an elected official from the CAQ demanded a contribution from anyone to have access to a minister, assured M .Bélanger.

Controversial invitations: a “witch hunt”, according to the DG of the CAQ. -4 leading-5 font-bold transition-colors parent-peer-hover-focus:text-deepSea700 dark:parent-peer-hover-focus:text-deepSea400″>Controversial invitations: a “witch hunt” , according to the DG of the CAQ

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Listen to the audio (Controversial invitations: a “witch hunt”, according to the DG of the CAQ. 9 minutes 16 seconds)

Called to react, Élections Québec announced on Wednesday that, in the event that the legislator would reflect on this subject, the institution would be ready to collaborate with parliamentarians in order to clarify the application of the rules on political financing or to update the provisions of the Electoral Act in this area.

Its spokesperson, Julie St-Arnaud Drolet, also recalled that the presence of a minister at a fundraising cocktail was not formally prohibited.

Such a practice, however, could raise the risk that an exchange occurring within the framework of the activity could result in a decision having the appearance of constituting a benefit provided in exchange for a contribution, she warned.

According to The Canadian Press, nearly half of Quebec's mayors and prefects have contributed to financing the CAQ since the last municipal elections in 2021.

In December, a Radio-Canada report also told us that mayors felt obliged to contribute to François Legault's party fund to meet a minister.

Since the reform instituted by the government of Pauline Marois in 2013, political donations only represent a fraction of the income of political parties. Their funding today comes more from state coffers and stems from the votes received in the general elections.

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