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CAQ candidate was rejected by Bloc over cigar smuggling, driving infractions

Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault speaks with supporters in St. Bruno-de-Montarville on Wednesday.


A candidate for the Coalition Avenir Québec is wrongly claiming to have been nominated as a candidate for the Bloc Québécois in the past federal election, Bloc officials say.

Robert Milot, who is running for the CAQ in the Laurentian region, did not pass the Bloc's vetting process in 2010 after a cigar-smuggling charge and driving infractions raised red flags, party officials said.

Senior Bloc officials had a number of discussions with Mr. Milot as part of his background check and ultimately rejected his request to run for the Bloc, party officials said.

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"He had expressed an interest in being a candidate, but he was never nominated as a candidate," Bloc spokesman Sylvain Boyer said on Wednesday.

The CAQ has strongly pushed ethical issues in the provincial campaign, vowing to bring in strict anti-corruption measures and "clean up" government if it wins the Sept. 4 election.

On the CAQ's official website, it is stated that Mr. Milot was "elected as the Bloc Québécois candidate in the riding of Outremont in 2010." Élise Daoust was in fact the Bloc candidate in that riding during the 2011 federal election campaign.

Mr. Milot is running for the CAQ in the riding of Labelle in the Laurentians, north of Montreal. The riding is in a part of the province that traditionally supports the Parti Québécois but is targeted by the CAQ.

Mr. Milot, 61, was convicted of trying to smuggle cigars into Canada in 1998. He was charged when he brought cigars into Mirabel airport and fined $2,000, according to court records.

His record also shows four convictions for traffic violations in 1988 and 1989 for which he received fines ranging from $50 to $300.

Reached by The Globe and Mail on Wednesday, Mr. Milot refused to comment and directed questions to CAQ headquarters.

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A spokesman for the party said the cigar charge was known to CAQ officials at the time of Mr. Milot's nomination as a candidate. Party spokesman Jean-Bernard Villemaire explained the cigars were for Mr. Milot's personal consumption and that he paid his fine. He added that Mr. Milot was not "the first Quebecker to bring back cigars from Cuba and forget to declare them."

He added the smuggling matter "was penal and not criminal," meaning Mr. Milot was fined for violating rules set by federal laws, but did not commit a crime under Canada's Criminal Code.

Mr. Villemaire said he could not comment on the dispute surrounding the Bloc nomination, stating he "is unaware of the internal workings of the Bloc."

Ethical issues are at the heart of the provincial election after years of scandals involving a variety of departments in the Liberal government. A senior CAQ candidate in the campaign, anti-corruption crusader Jacques Duchesneau, alleged on Wednesday that unnamed Liberal ministers had gone on a yacht belonging to controversial businessman Antonio Accurso.

Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest defended his cabinet, saying that checks were made and that none of his ministers went on the boat belonging to Mr. Accurso, a prominent businessman currently facing fraud charges.

CAQ Leader François Legault defended Mr. Duchesneau's statements, saying his star candidate was simply answering a direct question from a reporter and does not have to provide details or names to the public.

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Mr. Legault said the Charbonneau commission into allegations of corruption in the construction industry could have asked questions on the matter to Mr. Duchesneau when he testified last spring, but decided to avoid the topic.

"The one who should be embarrassed in this case is Jean Charest for calling the election before the resumption [on Sept. 17] of the Charbonneau commission hearings," Mr. Legault said.

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About the Authors
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

Chief political writer

Campbell Clark has been a political writer in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau since 2000. Before that he worked for The Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He writes about Canadian politics and foreign policy. More


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