PQ calls for Public Security Minister Theriault to step down amid Val d'Or allegations
Published Tuesday, October 27, 2015 5:18PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 28, 2015 7:50AM EDT
The Parti Quebecois is calling for Public Security Minister Lise Theriault to step down in the wake of sexual assault allegations against indigenous women in Val d’Or.
Opposition parties in Quebec City are asking for an independent inquiry into the allegations that nine police officers sexually, physically and mentally abused First Nations women.
Opposition House Leader Bernard Drainville said the Liberal government has mishandled a severe and delicate situation and that public confidence has been shaken.
Drainville is placing the blame squarely on Theriault.
“She has lacked judgment, she's erratic, she's said things that were wrong and false in the house, when she said there was an independent inquiry, which was not true, for all these reasons she should go,” he said Tuesday.
A tearful Theriault called for the Montreal police to investigate the sexual assault allegation against the SQ in Val d'Or. The announcement came a day after the minister had initially put the Surete du Quebec in charge of investigating its own officers.
“Police men or police women should not be investigating other police men or police women,” said Drainville.
The PQ is calling for the independent investigation bureau to take over from the Montreal police.
The newly formed bureau, however, will not be ready until April 2016.
Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley said the province can't wait that long.
“So even with an independent bureau, they often have the same criticisms, because at the end of the day you have to build evidence, you have to build a proof that you can take to a Crown prosecutor, and that's police work,” he said.
There will be a parliamentary committee on the sexual abuse of aboriginal women and there is a promised federal inquiry for missing and murdered indigenous women.
Premier Philippe Couillard said Val d'Or is another example of the need for broader inquiries.
“The deeper issue also should be looked at; the systemic issue of the flawed relationship between the First Nations and our communities, that frankly dates from the Indian Act, which is totally outdated and that should be completely reformed,” he said.
Couillard came to Theriault’s defence, saying “she's doing a fine job,” and despite calls from opposition parties for an independent inquiry of the SQ officers.
Couillard says the Montreal police will conduct a fair investigation and "respect the rule of law."