Documents stolen from Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette's government car
MONTREAL - Embattled Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette's bad month just got worse: documents were stolen from the minister's government vehicle Wednesday night.
Jolin-Barrette's car had been parked in a lot at an office tower in Quebec City where Jolin-Barrette's office is located. He was reportedly working late Wednesday night.
A suspect who Quebec provincial police say has no ties to Jolin-Barrette was arrested and is to appear in court at a later date.
He is alleged to have had the stolen documents in his possession at the time he was arrested.
Jolin-Barrette told reporters in Quebec City Thursday that the stolen documents were not important, calling them mainly "handwritten notes" and "daily working documents."
He said his iPad was also stolen, and has been recovered, and that he has changed all his access codes.
"When you're the victim of a theft, it's not pleasant and I think any Quebecers who have experienced that know it's frustrating and worrisome - and that's how I feel today," Jolin-Barrette said.
Asked about the theft, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Thursday he did not believe his minister acted irresponsibly in leaving documents in his work car, noting that he himself has done so. Legault said he was not aware if there are rules against doing that.
Opposition parties took the opportunity to pile up on him again this week, with Liberal member Marwah Rizqy saying "the errors keep accumulating" for Jolin-Barrette.
"My mother taught me never to leave my purse in the car and I think we shouldn't leave working documents in the car," said Rizqy. "The minister, who is a trained lawyer, knows full well any document could be important."
Jolin-Barrette hasn't had the easiest time in the legislature since last week, when he announced reforms to a popular immigration program for foreign students and workers. Hundreds of foreign students already in the province were shocked to learn they no longer qualified for a fast-track residency program.
He and the rest of the Coalition Avenir Quebec government were hit with such criticism and disapproval that they suspended the reforms entirely last Friday. Jolin-Barrette on Tuesday was forced to publicly apologize for the proposal and faced repeated calls by his opponents to step away from the immigration portfolio.
Premier Francois Legault rejected the opposition's demands for him to demote his minister, telling the legislature he had complete confidence in the young politician.
- WIth reporting from Amanda Kline of CTV News Montreal files from the Canadian Press.