(Quebec) The Legault government and Deputy Prime Minister Geneviève Guilbault must apologize to former Premier Jean Charest for the leaks from the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC) that tarnished his reputation and that of the Quebec Liberal Party , believes its interim chief Marc Tanguay. Prime Minister François Legault does not rule out doing so.
“No one in Quebec […] should not have to suffer such abuse from the state, here, in the first place, from UPAC. We believe that the government must recognize the fault which was recognized by the judgment itself and apologize to Mr. Charest, “said Mr. Tanguay during a press briefing at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
He was reacting to the victory in the courts of Mr. Charest, who won the lawsuit he brought against the Quebec government for the disclosure of his personal information as part of an investigation by UPAC. Quebec will have to pay him $35,000 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.
And the story is not over. Mr. Charest is authorized to continue his proceedings against the government if he wishes to prove that he was the victim of an abuse of process since the Attorney General of Quebec would have unnecessarily complicated the holding of his trial, which remains to be decided.
“The fact, for the Attorney General of Quebec, who took up the cause of UPAC, to say, to affirm the exact quote: “protective measures are in place”, while the judge said: ” there is no evidence to support this from the Attorney General.” We are all anxious to see how the Attorney General will respond to this, ”said Mr. Tanguay.
Jean Charest had filed a lawsuit against Quebec in October 2020 for violation of his privacy. He said he had suffered significant harm due to the leak of confidential investigation documents from the UPAC Mâchurer project on the financing of the Liberal Party of Quebec, obtained by the Quebecor group and published from April 2017.
This is also why he directly targets Ms. Guilbault, who had brandished the book PLQ inc. in the Blue Room of the National Assembly when she was Minister of Public Security.
Mr. Tanguay now wants the “bandits” responsible for the media leaks to end up “in jail”. Because this leak “had a devastating impact on the life of Mr. Charest, on a personal basis”, but it also harmed “on a reputational basis” the PLQ. “These leaks will have had an impact on people’s perception of the Quebec Liberal Party,” he lamented. They would have been one of the factors that led to the defeat of the party in the last general election, according to Mr. Tanguay.
He believes that UPAC will now have to “ensure” that these kinds of leaks “never happen again.”
For his part, Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette declined to comment on Mr. Charest’s victory. “We are analyzing the judgment, and I will not comment further,” he said.
Prime Minister François Legault, he does not rule out apologizing to Jean Charest, while describing such an initiative from a very particular angle. “What we must remember first is that there were leaks at UPAC under the management of Mr. [Robert] Lafrenière, who was chosen by the Liberal government.
“So the question today is whether I should apologize on behalf of the Liberal government that appointed Mr. Lafrenière. I don’t rule that out, but we’ll analyze it properly,” he said. He recalled that his government had adopted a law for the boss of UPAC to be appointed by the National Assembly, with the support of at least two-thirds of the deputies.
Should UPAC apologize to Jean Charest? “Maybe, yes,” replied Mr. Legault. The Prime Minister considers that UPAC still has its place.
The head of Quebec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, believes for his part that the UPAC must offer its apologies to the citizens of Quebec, and not to Jean Charest. “UPAC was created at the time to catch bandits and to put money back into state coffers. Then finally, we didn’t catch many people, then we put the money back in the pockets of Jean Charest, “he denounced.
“I understand the world being frustrated with the work of UPAC. I share their frustration. It is unfortunate that we have come to this. If there’s any apology that needs to be made, it’s to all Quebecers for not delivering the goods in the fight against corruption,” he said. He is now wondering about the future of UPAC.
PQ MP Pascal Bérubé believes for his part that the UPAC should lose its status as an independent police force to be reintegrated into the Sureté du Québec.