The CAQ used public funds for partisan purposes, concludes the Ethics Commissioner

The use of public funds by the staff of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) for partisan purposes is “worrying” judges the Ethics Commissioner who concludes in an opinion that the government whip Legault has committed a breach.

The Commissioner began an investigation last November into the use of public funds by Whip Éric Lefebvre’s office after an email from a member of his staff fell into the hands of the opposition.

Intended for the staff of the riding offices of the deputies of the CAQ, this e-mail displayed the colors of the party and explained how to place in a political context and how to use the “Coaliste”, a computer directory of party sympathizers, among other things.

“The evidence gathered demonstrates that the use of government assets and services by staff members of the Chief Whip’s office reaches a sufficiently significant level to be considered inappropriate in this context,” the Commissioner concluded on Thursday. ethics, Ariane Mignolet.

The rules of the National Assembly provide that the budgets granted to elected officials as part of their work must not be used for partisan purposes.

However, the latter judges that Éric Lefebvre does not deserve sanctions given his exemplary contribution to the investigation. He has also undertaken to recuperate the time that his staff members have devoted to this training, so that he is not remunerated by public funds.

But his conclusions go beyond the behavior of the whip and irritate all the political staff of the Coalition Avenir Québec.

“The present investigation revealed that members of the constituency staff are called upon to devote working time to activities of a partisan nature, whether in view of the next election campaign or throughout their mandate for the management partisan media placements,” she wrote.

«[…] the scale that could take, or could have taken, the use of State goods and services by all members of the personnel of the constituency offices of the parliamentary group forming the government is worrying”, added the Commissioner.

She also concludes that these errors “result largely from a lack of training on the ethical principles and rules of conduct applicable to elected officials and their staff members”.

The importance of such training has however been addressed on several occasions by the Commissioner, in particular in his two reports on the implementation of the Code of Ethics for elected officials, tabled in 2015 and 2019, she recalled.

However, since the last general election in 2018, only 29 members of the National Assembly have received such training, she pointed out.

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