Opposition prepares to grill PQ environment minister for ‘bullying’ incident
Published Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:00PM EST
MONTREAL—Quebec’s environment minister will soon be in the hot seat at the National Assembly after the opposition voted Thursday to investigate allegations he bullied employees of the province’s independent environmental review board.
The opposition vote was the first defeat for Pauline Marois’ minority government in Quebec City. A special committee will now meet to investigate whether Daniel Breton overstepped his boundaries with employees of the BAPE.
“My hope is that we'll get to the truth, that’s my hope,” said Liberal MNA Yolande James.
In late October, Breton allegedly met behind closed doors with about 50 employees, took a list of their cell phone numbers and warned that he would call them if they make a decision "He doesn’t like.” Breton maintains he did nothing wrong.
The Liberals refuse to believe Breton’s explanation. They argue the BAPE is independent and should be operating at arm’s length from the government. For a minister to give orders is simply undemocratic, they argue.
“It would be an interference with their independence to be able to exercise their job and, of course, that would merit him resigning from his post,” said James.
“Breton has said for the past week that he hopes to maintain the independence between the BAPE and the cabinet. With his presence at the BAPE on Oct. 24 he failed at that,” said Coalition Avenir Quebec MNA Francois Bonnardel.
The committee will be made up of members from the various parties, who can questions Breton and anyone they feel could help shed some light on the matter, including employees he may have spoken to.
On Thursday, the BAPE’s spokesperson confirmed that the minister did visit the review board’s office for a meeting last month, but wouldn’t give any details about exactly what he did or said.
Hearings are expected to start in the new year.
Quebec Environment Minister Daniel Breton responds to Opposition questions Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 at the legislature in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)