Quebec’s anti-corruption squad UPAC has been given more policing powers.
The Liberal Party used its majority to pass Bill 107 in the National Assembly Wednesday, making UPAC a full-fledged independent force.
Sixty-one Liberal MNAs voted to adopt the controversial bill Wednesday, while 49 opposition MNAs voted against it. There was no abstention.
The Parti Québécois, Coalition Avenir Québec and Quebec Solidaire had all already stated that they would vote against the legislation because of complaints of a ‘toxic’ work environment at UPAC.
Last week, a three-page briefing note tabled at the National Assembly highlighted major internal issues at UPAC.
The report documented infighting, jealousy and rivalries taking a toll on the staff.
The report suggested that UPAC believed four people were leaking information to journalists: Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette, former police officer Richard Despaties, police officer Stephane Bonhomme and former contractor Lino Zambito, who was a witness to the Charbonneau Commission and called for an independent investigation into the force before the adoption of Bill 107.
PQ House leader Pascal Bérubé said he wanted the government to wait before giving UPAC more powers.
They also want to change the way in which the UPAC commissioner is chose, calling for a vote by two-thirds of the National Assembly instead of leaving it to the party in power.
Because of criticism from the opposition, the Liberals amended the bill, adding a surveillance committee to monitor UPAC's work.
Premier Philippe Couillard said that should ease concerns.
“The timing could not be better. The fundamental item contained in this bill is the formation of a review committee nominated by two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly, reporting to the Assembly at least once a year, probably more, when you have specific issues to report on. This is what's going to address fundamentally the flaws that may or may not exist in the organization,” he said.
- With files from La Presse Canadienne