Premier defends Fournier over allegations as fall session opens
Published Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:25PM EDT
As MNAs at the National Assembly returned for the fall session, Premier Philippe Couillard wasted no time defending one of his top cabinet members.
Couillard said he asked his office to check in with the SQ and see if there was any change in status to Government House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier's security clearance at the National Assembly.
There was no change, a reassuring bit of news for the premier, who said it serves as proof that claims by the head of the Montreal police brotherhood are unfounded.
Union leader Yves Francoeur alleged two Liberals -- a current and a former MNA -- should have faced charges in an investigation related to fraud and influence peddling.
Francoeur claimed multiple sources told him a real estate promoter approached the two politicians at a fundraising cocktail, requesting zoning changes in exchange for donations to the Liberal party.
He also claimed there was surveillance and wiretap evidence, but the investigation was stonewalled because the Liberal politicians were being protected.
When Fournier's name was revealed as one of the two on Monday, he seemed very shaken up by the revelations and he told reporters he was rethinking his political future, adding he had mixed feelings about whether he should stay or go.
On Tuesday, though, it seemed Fournier had no plans to step down, and Couillard is standing by him.
“Nothing is out there that should cast a shadow on his ability to be a member of the National Assembly and also of cabinet,” said the premier.
Fournier added, “And so that allows me to do my job, and not be a problem for the government. And if I'm not a problem for the government, it brings me back to my first reaction that I had in mind yesterday, which is to not quit.”
CAQ leader Francois Legault said he doesn't think Fournier needs to be removed from cabinet at this point – a differing opinion from PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee.
Lisee said Fournier should step aside until police can shed more light on the allegations, especially since the SQ has announced it's now broadening the investigation into Francoeur's allegations.
“If they had told us yesterday, ‘We looked into the file, there's nothing there, we closed the file,’ then it's okay. That's not what they said. They said, ‘We're putting more people to work on this.’ So, as long as the police feel it's an open inquiry that involves Mr. Fournier, he should not be sitting at the table of the cabinet,” he said.