(Quebec) The leaders of political parties hailed the courage of Catherine Fournier, who made the choice to reveal that she is the young woman sexually assaulted by former Parti Québécois MP Harold LeBel, convicted last November. PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon defended the management of the case within the PQ.
The publication ban which prohibited the media from broadcasting the name of the mayor of Longueuil, who was a PQ member at the time of the events, was lifted Tuesday morning around 9 a.m., by order of a judge. It was the main interested party who had herself requested that her identity be made public, saying she wanted to take a new step in her journey.
She explained her decision by saying she wanted to “do some meaningful work” by helping to “demystify the unknown that is a sexual assault victim’s journey through the justice system.”
PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon was questioned about this during a press briefing at the National Assembly. “If I have anything to say to the victim today, it is to say, at the end of this process which, without a doubt, must have been painful, difficult: I hope that the fact that justice has been returned and that the system has done its job will give him inner peace,” said PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
He recalled that when Mr. LeBel was arrested, he announced his suspension “the same day” and barred him from political training. His colleague Joël Arseneau says he learned of Mr. LeBel’s arrest with “surprise, astonishment and disbelief”. They had never heard of any rumors or hearsay about Mr. LeBel before.
But following the arrest of the former MP for Rimouski, “in the days that followed, I was given contradictory allegations, because it generated a lot of discussion,” said Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon. .
“There were several people in the party who seemed to want to do justice themselves,” he added.
He therefore “asked everyone not to intervene with either the victim or the accused”, who were both Parti Québécois MPs at the time the sexual assault took place, more than five years, in the Rimouski apartment of Mr. LeBel.
He says he himself “never spoke to Ms. Fournier or Harold LeBel after the charges.” He believes that a simple word of encouragement to Ms. Fournier could have raised “all kinds of hypotheses, presumptions”.
Prime Minister François Legault hailed the courage of Catherine Fournier. “I find it brave of Catherine to have gone through the process. And I think that’s a pattern. Obviously, it is never easy for a woman, a person, to go through the whole process of the courts. We try with Simon Jolin-Barrette to help the victims as much as we can, but despite that, I know that it is not an easy process. I want to salute her for her courage,” he said.
“I find her strong because she is still a young leader who could have continued to do her job at the City of Longueuil […], but she decided to speak out and speak out. She comes out of her comfort zone to denounce despite her occupations. It’s a lot of courage and personal strength that I find in Catherine Fournier, “said the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Martine Biron.
“It reassures me because wow, women are starting to speak up to denounce, to say that it’s zero tolerance and that assaults are over. So I think that’s a step forward. It leads us women to take our power more and more in our own hands and it is a very good action, ”she added when she arrived at the question period.
“It sends a very clear message to the various victims in Quebec, that it is important to denounce and in this case, justice has been done”, expressed the Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette. “I think we have to highlight the courage of Ms. Fournier and also the fact that she decided to reveal her identity, I think it does useful work and it is a model for many people. »
“I think there are a lot of people who have lost confidence and on that, it’s our duty as an elected official, as a minister, as a government to restore confidence in the justice system, to better support our police officers,” said the Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel.
“This is an important testimony. She went through the system. She said she will put forth constructive criticism. We can’t wait to hear it. In this area, the system must always be improved. “, for his part declared the Liberal interim leader, Marc Tanguay.
The parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, wants Ms. Fournier to be heard. “I want to salute his courage. I want to salute his resilience, too. She is speaking today and I hope that we will listen to her. I hope that everyone will listen to what this woman has to say about what needs to change in Quebec so that victims of sexual violence feel that they have plenty of room to speak out and so that the process that follows respect their rights, respect their will,” he said.
“I think every time a woman stands up and there is a positive result, it’s good for all women,” argued Manon Massé.