Couillard favours setting up a committee to monitor UPAC
Published Wednesday, November 1, 2017 12:09PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, November 1, 2017 7:51PM EDT
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is open to the CAQ’s suggestion to set up an independent committee to monitor the behaviour of the province’s permanent anti-corruption unit, UPAC.
Couillard said Wednesday he was favourable to the idea, but said but he doesn't want to rush things and needs time to do a proper review and analysis.
Couillard’s suggestion comes a day after MNA Guy Ouellette spoke to the National Assembly, followed by a news conference by UPAC.
The two players related completely contradictory versions of events, leading many to wonder who is telling the truth.
Ouellette was arrested by UPAC last Wednesday for reasons that are still murky. He still has not been charged with any crime.
Ouellette claims he was set up by UPAC in an effort to be intimidated because he's prepared to raise questions about their work.
UPAC dismissed all of it.
On Tuesday, UPAC dismissed criticisms made in recent days about the Ouellette situation. If charges are laid in this case, they will be filed in due course when the investigation is complete, said UPAC Commissioner Robert Lafrenière.
Lafrenière added that he does not want to be how to conduct his investigations, even if they involve a member of the National Assembly.
Couillard acknowledged Wednesday morning that UPAC had probably said everything it could say about the case Ouellette, given the circumstances of an open investigation.
“The nature of an inquiry is that things are left hanging,” he said. “It’s the nature of things. I wish I could tell you how it’s going to end. I don’t know, you don’t know. Nobody knows how it’s going to end,” he said.
The CAQ's Francois Legault said the fact Ouellette has not been charged requires Couillard to step up.
"There's a lot of cynicism, there's a lack of confidence of the population and I think it's the responsibility of Mr. Couillard to take action," said Legault.
Couillard said he plans to be thoughtful before acting.
"The CAQ is asking us today to say that we're 100 percent sure that we're going to do this. Let's be careful. Let's take time to do the proper review and analysis and then we'll go," said Couillard.
In the meantime, many MNAs are commenting on the speech made by speaker Jacques Chagnon in the National Assembly Tuesday,
Chagnon surprised many by taking a position on the controversy, calling UPAC out for arresting a parliamentarian without laying charges. Chagnon called it unacceptable and a threat to democracy.
On Wednesday, the PQ introduced a motion to salute the speech, calling it historic.
Liberal cabinet minister Pierre Moreau abstained from the vote, taking issue with Chagnon’s suggestion UPAC should ‘accuse or excuse,’ – lay charges against Ouellette or apologize to him.
“Mr. Chagnon’s remark yesterday, providing that UPAC should lay charges is against the way our legal system works. It’s not for UPAC to lay charges, it’s for the Crown prosecutor. And therefore I totally agree with Mr. Chagnon’s speech concerning the protection of the right of the parliamentarian, but I don’t agree with the other part,” he said.