PQ candidate withdraws in wake of drunk driving allegations
Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 2:31PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 6, 2018 8:48PM EDT
Parti Quebecois candidate Guy Leclair has officially withdrawn his candidacy from the Oct. 1 election.
Leclair said his decision came from not wanting to harm the PQ by diverting attention away from the campaign.
The candidate for the Beauharnois riding came under fire after it was discovered he was arrested in July for drunk driving.
Leclair was arrested in a parking lot on July 13. In a statement, Leclair denied a police account of the arrest in which he refused to take a breathalyzer. He received a formal summation on Wednesday and is set to appear in the Valleyfield courthouse on Sept. 21. He faces charges of drunk driving and refusing to obey an order from a peace officer.
Leclair said he is innocent and denies refusing to take a breathalyzer test; he claims instead to have complied with police requests twice.
He has a previous drunk driving conviction from 2013.
PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee previously said he’s standing by his candidate and won’t push him to withdraw from the race, saying the candidate had informed him of the arrest in late August – a day after the official start of the campaign.
Following the election, it was planned that Leclair would sit as an independent until the end of the court proceedings, following the party rule that the caucus will suspend its member until the case is resolved.
Lisee made the clarification in a scrum in Levis Wednesday afternoon, but reiterated that the presumption of innocence still holds.
However, Lisee was reportedly disappointed with Leclair's decision to withdraw - considering there was no pressure to do so.
The revelation comes at an inopportune time for Lisee, who has been highly critical of CAQ candidate Eric Caire, who took a $50,000 loan from a mayor in his riding. Lisee has called for Caire to stand down.
Speaking in Rimouski on Wednesday, Lisee said he believed the two situations weren't comparable.
“He doesn’t claim to not making a mistake and that’s the big difference,” he said. “Mr. Caire admits breaching the code of ethics that applies as much to MNAs as ministers and he was Mr. Ethics, so he knew about that. I think his ethical credibility is in shambles. There’s no debate, he doesn’t claim he didn’t do it. Even though he reimbursed, he’s indebted to the mayor for life.”
- With files from The Canadian Press