Liberals deny tension in the party over Ouellette – UPAC affair
Published Thursday, November 2, 2017 12:45PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, November 2, 2017 6:07PM EDT
The Couillard Liberals are trying to shut down rumours about tension in the caucus stemming from the Guy Ouellette affair.
Cabinet minister Pierre Moreau raised some eyebrows Wednesday after he abstained from a vote on a motion to salute a speech by House Speaker Jacques Chagnon.
The motion was introduced by the Parti Quebecois after Chagnon made a speech in the National Assembly Tuesday criticizing UPAC for arresting Ouellette and not laying any charges.
The PQ called the speech "historic."
MNAs voted unanimously in favour of the motion – except for Moreau, who chose sit out the vote because he didn't agree with some legal technicalities in Chagnon's speech.
“Mr. Chagnon’s remark, 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.
The opposition jumped all over it, saying that a high-profile cabinet member breaking ranks is another sign Couillard has lost control of his caucus.
Some even suggested it was a calculated move to stand out because Moreau has leadership aspirations.
"A senior minister stays on his seat against the will of his premier, so I think his leadership is contested now," said Coalition Avenir Quebec MNA Eric Caire.
On Thursday, Moreau denied it.
“I am not in a leadership campaign, directly or indirectly. I've always been loyal to the chief. I am loyal to my chief and I will still remain loyal to Mr. Couillard, and there's no other interpretation that should be made,” he said.
"I know very well that loyalty is the most important value in politics."