(Montreal) Asked about meetings he had with former business partners, the Minister of Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, says he has nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, he accuses the Journal de Montréal of rehashing “old stories” and failing to understand the government’s decision-making process.
The daily reported earlier Monday that the minister had had 12 official meetings with people with whom he had previously served on boards. Some meetings that took place between 2018 and 2020 preceded government interventions. These interventions, however, would have been approved by another minister, the article specifies.
The ethics experts quoted in the text are divided on these meetings. One of them believes that the Minister should have distanced himself while another believes that these meetings are an asset, because they help to understand the economic issues.
Reacting to the article in the Journal de Montréal, the main interested party claims that the publication “is bent on bringing up things that have no connection”.
“It’s old stories, it’s nonsense,” replied the minister during a press scrum. There are no reactions to that.
In this process, Mr. Fitzgibbon says he has nothing to be ashamed of. “All files come from Investissement Québec or the ministry. The minister never… doesn’t lead… I’ve said that many times. »
To support his point, Mr. Fitzgibbon refers to the most recent report of the Ethics Commissioner, the conclusions of which were released in February. Commissioner Ariane Mignolet concluded that the Minister had not found himself in a situation of conflict of interest in the case of government support for the lighting specialist Lumenpulse.
Mr. Fitzgibbon has been the subject of six investigations by the Ethics Commissioner. One of them is in progress and concerns participation in a pheasant hunting party, in October 2022, on a private island whose owners’ businesses would benefit from subsidies granted by the department of the MP for Terrebonne.
He returned to the firm after complying with the commissioner’s demands by divesting himself of his interests in White Star Capital and ImmerVision.
The Minister added that he had a vast network in the business community and that it would therefore be normal for him to meet acquaintances. “Listen, I’m from Montreal. I know everyone in Montreal. »
This is not the first time that the minister has publicly challenged the journalists of the newspaper belonging to Quebecor. In December, he publicly denounced a journalist’s questions about a personal donation he had made to HEC Montreal, his alma mater.
This outing had earned him criticism from the Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec (FPJQ), which had defended the approach of the journalist targeted personally.
During Monday’s press conference and scrum, Mr. Fitzgibbon made no secret of his annoyance with the Journal de Montreal, which he says he does not read. He answered questions from the other reporters present with a smile, but he criticized a question from the Journal de Montréal reporter and abruptly answered his other questions.
To a question from the journalist on energy and investment projects, Mr. Fitzgibbon invited him to read the text published by La Presse. “She (the reporter) wrote it well, read the third paragraph. »