If I were Anglo, I’d worry about this guy Couillard

I know most Anglo-Quebecers look at this election with a measure of unease with some of the policies of my party, the Parti québécois. I get that.

But I’ve talked with enough Anglo-Quebecers these past 18 months to know that they often give credit to the PQ for good government and that they resent being taken for granted by the Liberal Party. I know, also, that they loathed the climate of corruption and collusion that was prevalent under the previous Liberal government. And they surely don’t want it to come back.

These past weeks, a lot of allegations have been thrown around. a Tax haven for Couillard, leadership financing for Marois. Shadows of facts.

But this should not mean that integrity is not a foremost issue at this point of Québec’s political history. So let’s focus on the absolute certainties we have and ask this question:

Who should they trust to keep Québec on the straight and narrow in terms of integrity?

The case for the PQ is crystal clear. We asked for the commission of inquiry that the PLQ opposed. We voted bill 1 to force every company in Quebec wanting to contract with the public sector to get an integrity certificate. We stood up to giants like Dessau and SNC-Lavalin and barred them from all public contracts for over a year untill they proved they had changed their ways — and they are still under scrutiny.

We made fake-name contributions to parties disappear by reforming both Quebec and municipal party financing. We got a law in place that enables citizens to get rid of mayors under accusations for fraud. We lenghtened the mandate of the Charbonneau commission and gave all necessary resources to the police to follow every lead. And they went all the way to the man the Liberals protected all these years, Mayor of Laval Gilles Vaillancourt, now accused of gangsterism.

It is hard to find, anywhere in the world, a government that made so much, so quickly, to cleanse its political and corporate stables.

So that’s our track record. We are immensely proud of it, and determined to go even further. Determined to make Quebec a modern example of how best to fight corruption.

What about Philippe Couillard’s record ?

His friendship with indicted fraudster Arthur Porter might well have been benign. His negociating his job with a private health care provider while he was minister of Health and in position to help his future boss is, at best, borderline, and no longer allowed.

Beyond that, has he shown that he is up to the task of turning the page on his party’s bleak past ? Let’s look at his record before and since he became leader.

The silent minister and citizen

Couillard had made no gesture to distance himself from Charest

Couillard had made no gesture to distance himself from Charest

While he was in Jean Charest’s cabinet, he was asked to rake-in 100 000$ a year for the PLQ, which put him, and his colleagues, on very treacherous ethical grounds. Did he ever refuse, even denounce the practice ? No. He was silent. Acquiescing. When it came to light that Charest took in 75 000$ a year from these donations to line his own pockets and that he never admitted it in public, what did Couillard say ? Nothing.He left office and regained his freedom of speech in 2008. How did he use it when it became public that the PLQ chose judges by affixing partisan post-it’s on their resumés ? What did he say when his former colleagues voted 11 times against the creation of a public inquiry on construction ? Nothing. He remained completely silent. From 2009 to 2011, every public figure in Québec was called upon to take a stand and pressure the Charest government into setting up a Commission of inquiry. Other Liberals, such as former PLQ president Robert Benoît, had the courage to stand up. In the end, even the FTQ was compelled to publicly ask for a commission.

So where was Couillard when 80% of Quebecers asked for the commission ? When even a lone PLQ member had the guts to go to the mike at a PLQ gathering to ask for one ?

Philippe Couillard was simply missing in action.

The failed leadership test of integrity

When he became leader, everyone expected Philippe Couillard to make a clean sweep, to distance himself from the Charest years of denial and obfuscation. I certainly did. Claude Ryan did that when he replaced Robert Bourassa in 1977.

But we never heard of any internal inquiry by Couillard, any distribution of a new set of rules, any statement that this was then and this is now. Granted, there was an attempt at adopting an ethics code. But it failed. Couillard was unable to garner a majority for an ethics code at the PLQ, a notoriously disciplined party. Unbelievable.

Couillard took four deliberate actions on the integrity front. First, when the UPAC came down to look for proof of wrongdoing in the PLQ headquarters last summer, Couillard decided to hide this fact from the public for two long months. Then, when the Charbonneau commission wanted to use tape recordings pertaining to the financing of the Charest campaign in Sherbrooke, Couillard instructed the Liberal lawyer to stop the release of the tape. It failed.

When the information was released, Jean Charest issued a statement saying he was beyond reproach. What did Couillard do ? Ignore it and say Mr Charest is old enough to answer for himself, thus putting much needed distance between him and the former leader ? No. He held a press conference and fully supported Mr Charest’s stance and reputation. Very risqué, if you ask me.

He made another important political call. The PQ feels much needs to be mended to build back public confidence towards politicians. One way is to punish politicians who break their moral contract with voters in their ridings when they resign, for no good reason, and trigger a costly byelection. Let the selfish MNA resign, we say, but without the severance pay. The measure is very popular. We could have adopted it. Couillard said no. The reason ? He was protecting the pocketbook of two of his own: soon to resign Raymond Bachand in Outremont and Emmanuel Dubourg in Viau.

The pocketbook of a rival (Bachand) and of a minor figure (Dubourg) were more important for him that taking a further step to reestablish public trust. Sad.

What if he’s elected ?

The Couillard record is clear. He is no Eliot Ness. He is no crusader for integrity. He’s trying to shun the issue, to hide it, not to fight it.

In the unlikely and unfortunate event of a Couillard-led PLQ government, what is bound to happen ? Court documents show that the UPAC is closing in on 11 Liberal operatives involved in a scheme of illegal financing involving millions of dollars. We see on TV policemen trying to link Jean Charest’s friend, adviser and bagman Marc Bibeau to alledged fraud in the Train de l’Est construction, rife with cost overruns under Liberal management.

The UPAC is one heartbeat away from exposing the Liberal system. Il would probably do that in the first year of a Couillard government. [So it took a bit longer.] The scandal could render it catatonic.

How would Philippe Couillard manage it ? There are only two things Mr Couillard managed in public life. He set up the CHUM and the CUSM. Of the two directors he left behind, one is now indicted, the other was shown the door. Scandal and cost overruns tarnished both nascent institutions. That is his managerial legacy. As a leader, he clearly failed to show strenght and purpose on the integrity issue.

My Anglo friends may disagree with Pauline Marois and the PQ on many issues. There will be democratic debates and votes on important matters. But for those who feel integrity in politics is paramount, the choice is clear.

A shortened version of this article was published in The Suburban



18 réflexions au sujet de « If I were Anglo, I’d worry about this guy Couillard »

  1. It is forgotten that us Anglos have a french side – most of us speak french in our daily lives and we are proud of being Quebeckers. Our friends and neighbors are francophones. We have more in common with Montreal than we do with any other Canadian city. We have had arguments with people from the R.O.C. who bash our province. So much of what makes Montreal the city that it is, is because of Anglos.

    Sadly, the PQ could have had Anglo-Quebeckers on it’s side from years ago simply by recognizing the reality that English is an official language on the island of Montreal. To recognize that we have been in Montreal as long as anyone else has, and that we deserve it. This small gesture in protecting the rights of such a strong minority would have paved the way for an Independant Quebec a long time ago. Instead, Montreal will surely succeed from Quebec if it ever chooses to become a nation.

  2. Quebec will never prosper as long as the PQ exists. Being a semi-pur-laine born in the early sixties, I have had live with political anxiety my whole adult life. What we need is a real second choice who will not use whatever is in their grasp to sway the electorate into thinking they are the saviours of the francophone culture in N.A.

    How can any rational, hard working, reasonably literate person not see the PQ has and always use the simplest of all tactics; divide and conquer.

    First the anglophone, then the non-separatists, and now the non Christians have all had to labelled as « other than Quebecois ».

    Remember the PQ slogan of 2012: Un Quebec Pour Tous. Who exactly is « tous ».

  3. Je comprends mal pourquoi vous avez perdu du temps et de l’énergie à essayer de convaincre des gens qui, comme l’a si bien dit une des personnes qui a posté un commentaire, préfèrent voter pour des pourris que pour des séparatistes.
    C’est un peu, d’ailleurs, comme le pseudo-humoriste Sugar Sammy, qui fait son argent en crachant sur les Québécois francophones (lesquels en redemandent, peuple de masos! ) en disant qu’il ferait plus confiance à Rob Ford, le maire pourri de Toronto qu’à Pauline Marois.
    Dans les circonstances actuelles, je crois que vous auriez plutôt avantage à vous concentrer sur les francophones qui semblent eux aussi préférer élire des pourris que des séparatistes.

  4. It’s very kind of you to write an article in the language of Shakespeare and hopefully when you become PQ leader within the year, it’ll give the two communities greater opportunities for rapprochement.

  5. PQ is indeed a good choice, instead of opening the door to corruption. 18 ex-Charest Ministers haven’t change enought their old reflex on financial & integrity matters learned during their 9 years mandate. Let them integrate what is good managing. 18 months are not enough to appreciate what is a good Government. PLQ condamned PQ’s’budget but when we look @ PLQ’s irrealistic financial program, we must admit that the wouldn’t do better than PQ and engaged many $ to force a useless & non-productive election. Let’s’vote PQ for the next 4 years, I’m sure that we’ll be better than PLQ old crew & new on the market CAQ.

  6. Parmi les réalisations du PQ, vous oubliez les élections à date fixe. Oh! mais c’est vrai, vous avez déjà rompu avec votre propre loi afin de profiter des sondages. Rira bien qui rira le dernier, monsieur Lisée.
    Quant à moi, si « indépendance » = PQ, j’ai honte.

    • Un gouvernement minoritaire dont la défaite était annoncée par le Parti libéral et la CAQ lors du dépôt du budget n’était pas tenu à se soumettre à l’obligation de tenir des élections à date fixe. N »oubliez également d’avoir honte relativement à tous ces électeurs qui souffrent d’amnésie collective en votant Libéral, un Parti qui à 11 reprises a voté contre la tenue d’une commission d’enquête dans l’industrie de la construction.

      Quant au référendum si jamais il n’en avait un cela demeure un exercice démocratique à l’instar de celui qui sera tenu en Écosse et en Catalogne. Alors cesser d’avoir peur !

  7. While integrity is an issue, it is difficult to argue that one of the two major Quebec parties has a lock on it.

    I believe the PQ has shown a complete lack of integrity in bringing forth the Charter of Values. It is clear that this is more a strategy to win votes than it is a deeply-held belief. I am against the charter because I interpret it as an attack on new and « different » members of Quebec society. It is the veneer that xenophobia wears. Sure, it can be defended over wine with erudite dinner partners, but if we are honest, somebody from – oh, I don’t know – Herouxville, for example, supports it for entirely different, and less noble reasons.

    While I am not particularly sensitive to the disdain that the PQ has for anglos (after all, I am a lifelong Quebecer, fluently bilingual and sending my children – by choice, not by obligation – to French school), it is legitimately frightening to me that, in addition to wishing that anglos would just leave, the target is now on new immigrants and their deeply-held religious beliefs. Who, exactly, is welcome in Quebec? To pose the question is to answer it.

    So, if you want to talk about integrity in politics, know that most people – and this probably crosses ethnic, religious and linguistic lines – believe that the two are entirely incompatible. We know you will do what you feel you have to to win, the health and well-being of the society you are meant to lead, shape and nurture be damned.

    • while i agree with on the the fact tha the charter was used also for political strategy, i disagre completely with you on the xenophobic caracter of the charter; i agree totally with the charter and i certainly am not xenophobic or racist; stop using that simplistic argument.

      and i certainly do not wish for the anglos to leave quebec; in fact i hope they will stay when quebec become independant.

      we need every person taht wants to live and prosper in a new country not the opposite.

      on the question of integrity, i think that the worst record is very very clear; plq has again and again proven that integrity is not a thing they consider important; so do not vote for pq but please use your own integrity to vote for a party that might be at least acceptable on integrity issues.

    • Merci pour la réponse, Denis. Je veux clarifier que je ne traite pas tout les gens qui prône la laïcité comme xénophobe. C’est plutôt la saveur particulièrement extrême de la charte qui me dérange. Il faut qu’on soit plus clair comme société qu’on ne se définit pas par ce qu’on n’accepte pas, plutôt par notre ouverture envers les autres.

      Toi et moi, on vient de deux points de vue complètement différent. J’ai toujours senti à l’extérieure du société Québecois francophone. Comment ça, vous dites? Comme exemple, plusieurs fois dans ma vie les gens m’ont demander comment ça se fait que je parle si bien le français. Je répond, ‘je suis aller à l’école en français, je suis né au Québec, et mon épouse est francophone’. La réponse et toujours (sans exception) ‘ah, ton épouse est québecoise…’. Moi, né au Québec, mais anglophone, pas québecois, mais ma femme francophone, elle est une vraie québecoise.

      J’adore le Québec. Je suis et je serai toujours içi, mais je sais que je serais toujours vu comme l’autre par certains (pas tout le monde, remarque). Si je suis le bienvenue, c’est souvent malgré ma langue maternelle.

      Tous ça pour dire, pour moi c’est très important que le Québec soit accueillant envers les nouveaux citoyens.

      J’apprécie vraiment le ton de votre réponse, Denis. Merci. J’espère qu’il n’y a pas trop d’erreurs dans le texte.

    • L’intégrité n’était vraiment pas au rendez-vous pendant les neuf ans du gouvernement djé-djé charest ne faisant rien pour la grande majorité de la population dont pour le fait français en particulier et ça, vous n’en parlez pas. De la xénophobie envers les francos de la part des anglos, ça n’existerait pas, même quand c’est le QLP au pouvoir qui la répand par son attitude cavalière à peine voilée envers la défense des Droits de la majorité « d’ici ».

      La Charte des valeurs québécoises est une nécessité pour que celles et ceux voulant venir faire partie de la majorité du Québec (celle les francos), ne doivent pas être trop rigides concernant les prescriptions religieuses. Il est pour moi très, très évident que les cultes peuvent générer des divisions et des troubles dans le monde, ces dits cultes étant des relents d’un passé archaïque caractérisé par l’ignorance totale qualifiée de grande noirceur. Donc, au nom du Progrès humain, de la Modernité, de la Démocratie et de l’Égalité des Droits et Libertés entre tous, entre femme et homme, il ne faut pas se laisser aller à la naïveté sinon à la faiblesse.

      Enfin, connaissant M. Lisée et les autres du PQ dont la réputation n’est pas surfaite, je pense que vous divaguez lorsque vous prétendez que la fin justifierait les moyens, ceux-ci allant jusqu’à la malhonnêteté intellectuelle, une telle accusation méritant d’être dénoncée comme inacceptable ici.

      J’ajoute que pour ma part, vous vous plaignez le ventre plein, les francos n’ayant même pas le Droit des plus légitimes à la pérennité dans la constitution alors, franchement, . . . Sachez qu’il faut être vraiment coriace et extrêmement tolérant pour endurer ce que les Québécois-es (et autres francos du ROC) ont enduré comme traitement injuste de la part ‘the other canada’ depuis plus de 250 ans.

      Vive le Québec . . . Libre !!

    • rob
      votre français semble être aussi bon sinon meilleur que mon anglais; merci d’avoir la gentillesse de me répondre en français même si ce n’était pas nécessaire ce qui vous fait honneur.

      la majorité des souverainistes sont plutôt comme m. lisée ouvert aus anglos; certains manquent parfois de tolérance peut-être mais ce n’est pas uniquement chez les francos: pour moi m. richler a toujours été le symbole du racisme colonisateur et pourtant il a été considéré comme le héros de la défense de la communauté anglophone!

      pourquoi quand les anglos défendent leur culture se considèrent-ils dans leur droit alors que les francos voulant sauver ce qui reste de la culture francophone en amérique sont aussitôt vus comme intolérants voir raciste?

      je n,ai rien contre les gens qui pratiquent leur religion; jamais je ne leur dirais de ne pas prier ou aller à l’église… mais je crois fermement que l’espace public appartient à tous même à ceux qui ne veulent pas de religion dans cet espace.

      l’interdiction de signes religieux n’est pas l’interdiciton de la foi religieuse: pourquoi quelqu’un portant une croix au cou croit-il qu’il doit la porter à l’extérieur de sa chemise? pour montrer à Dieu sa foi? Dieu a-t-il besoin de voir la croix pour connaitre la foi d’un individu? non on porte sa croix a l’extérieur pour montrer aux autres qui regardent ce qu’on est, leur montrer sa religion… moi la religion des autres ne m’intéressent pas et je voudrais aussi avoir le droit dans l’espace public de ne pas y être confronté… la foi c’est personnel et quand on l’impose en public on fait nécessairement du prosélitisme… quand on impoise sa foi aux autres, parfois ça conduit aussi à de l’intolérance… l’histoire de l’humanité et du québec nous en livre tellement d’exemples.

      enfin, si tous les anglos étaient comme vous la loi 101 n’aurait jamais eu besoin d’exister je crois; merci pour votre acceptation de la culture de l’autre.

  8. You want to talk about integrity?

    Article 1 of your party’s constitution talks about independence . . . yet you deny to the electors that you want a referendum. You’re going to wait until Quebecers are « ready ».

    Who decides what is « ready »?

    Why are you denying what is your party’s first priority, bit of course saying something else sotto voce to your militants?

    That, Mr Lisée, also speaks to integrity.

    What about your charter of values? Is it based on any firm data or evidence? What have the Quebec Justice Ministry lawyers said about its constitutionality? Maybe it really is just a cynical ploy to harvest the votes of xenophobes so you can work full time on preparing a referendum (and of course if the Supreme Court is called upon to strike down the values charter, then there’s a handy excuse to whip up support for independence).

    The lack of openness and the cynical manipulation of fear also speaks to integrity, Mr. Lisée.

    False accusations that ‘Ontario students’ are trying to steal the vote and feeding DGEQ with false information . . . . that is also an issue of integrity, Mr. Lisée.

    And that is not even beginning to scratch the surface of PQ « integrity » issues . . . the « Deal »; Financing of Mme Marois’ leadership; who knows what else . . . .

    Remember well Mr Lisée, when you point your finger, there are three others pointing back at you.

    • « Remember well Mr Lisée, when you point your finger, there are three others pointing back at you. »

      @Domenic B…Love, love it!!!…thank you…:)

  9. Je n’ose pas aller voir les commentaires (s’il y en a) au bas de la version du Suburban. Ce journal qui avait fièrement fanfaronné « Better crooks than separatists » pour justifier de voter Tremblay plutôt que Harel aux élections municipales…

  10. On an economic point of view the Parti Québécois historically is also renowned by many (including Fraser Institute!) for solid management and control of budgets, support to regional industries, R&D and steady long term job creation!

    Integrity policies, reinforced rules and oversight on municipal governing and contracts, institution reforms and economics. For the next 4 years: it’s a good deal!

    • Mr. Lisée this is in response to your letter to Madame Marois-
      « People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel! » and I will NEVER forget how Mme Marois, Diane De Courcy, yourself and Drainville made us feel concerning Bill 14 and La Charte and the fact that she wanted nothing to with an Anglo debate!

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