Ex-cabinet minister Tony Tomassi pleads guilty as National Assembly reconvenes
Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014 2:33PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:09PM EDT
QUEBEC - Former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister Tony Tomassi will not have to stand trial on fraud charges after his lawyer indicated he will plead guilty.
Lawyer Caroline Drolet said in Quebec City today her client will enter a guilty plea to fraud and breach of trust charges on June 5, when sentencing arguments begin.
His trial had been set to begin June 2.
The 43-year-old Tomassi faces up to five years in prison.
The ex-family minister was forced to resign in 2010 after reports surfaced he had been using a credit card provided by a company that received millions in government grants.
The charges related to allegations Tomassi received material rewards from the company between 2006 and 2010.
National Assembly in Quebec City reconvened Tuesday, as the Liberal Party did its best to move forward despite the news.
Tomassi was also family minister during a time when Liberals were accused of giving daycare permits to political friends.
“Everyone in front of the law has to make a decision,” said Liberal Transport Minister Robert Poeti. “It was his decision and that's the way justice goes.”
The opposition, however, isn’t satisfied.
The guilty plea means we won’t get the details, like how long the alleged fraud lasted, said PQ interim leader Stephane Bedard.
CAQ house leader Francois Bonnardel said he wonders how widespread the alleged fraud really was.
“It confirms what a lot of people said about the Liberal Party under Mr. Charest,” said Bonnardel.
While in session Tuesday, the parties agreed on one thing; that longtime Liberal MNA Jacques Chagnon should serve for a third term as house speaker.
With that out of the way, Premier Couillard said the party now wants to focus on the economy.
“The key word is not austerity,” he said. “It's truth and reality.”
Programs will be carefully reviewed before undergoing cuts, he said.
“That is what is in front of us now, not slashing around indiscriminately, but having a clear and deep discussion,” he said,
Couillard’s inaugural speech Wednesday is expected to focus on job creation and improvements for the ecomony on the horizon.
The Couillard government is also expected to rapidly pass two laws, the end-of-life bill which was initially stalled in February as well as legislation allowing for the creation of an inspector general for the city of Montreal.
Finance Minister Carlos Leitao is expected to table a budget in early June.
With files from The Canadian Press