Pauline Marois accuses those involved in political kickbacks and fraud of conspiring to undermine her integrity and stop the Parti Québécois from taking power to pursue its campaign to eradicate corruption.
She offered no specific names but argued that many people have an axe to grind with the PQ. Ms. Marois said her party pressured the former Liberal government to create a public inquiry into corruption in the awarding of government contracts and illegal political fundraising and the move angered many firm and companies as well as the Quebec Federation of Labour. "But we held our ground," she said.
According to Ms. Marois, the PQ's actions hurt certain individuals, including the anonymous source who told Radio-Canada that her husband Claude Blanchet was allegedly involved in party fundraising activities. The news report suggested that some of the contributions violated the province's election law, which Ms. Marois and her husband vehemently denied.
"I don't know who exactly….but I know there are people who have a vested interest in making sure that the Parti Québécois is not returned to power," Ms. Marois said while campaigning in Drummondville. "There are major Quebec companies that suffered deeply by the actions we took…I wonder who is behind the denunciation…For sure it hurts the Parti Québécois. Why? Is it because they don't want the Parti Québécois to return to power, is it because they would prefer the Liberals? That is my question."
The PQ minority government adopted several laws to eliminate collusion and corruption in the awarding of contracts as well as tougher party financing rules. She added that testimony at the Charbonneau Commission also hurt several people.
"There are people who appeared before the Charbonneau Commission, who lost their jobs, who were profoundly affected by what we learned at the Commission Charbonneau. They hold us partly responsible," Ms. Marois said.
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said he would not presume anyone was guilty in the Blanchet affair, but he said it exposed the hypocrisy of Pauline Marois, who has spent the campaign claiming the PQ was above the dodgy financing practices of the Liberals.
He recalled when Ms. Marois and many of her caucus members wore white scarves as a symbol of their political purity in 2012.
"I would just note the dissonance between what we've heard and the declarations of purity of the Parti Québécois over the past two or three years," Mr. Couillard said just before giving an economic speech in Montreal. "They tried to teach everyone else lessons. Remember the white scarf? It's stained, full of holes even, and we see it now."
The integrity issue once again dominated a campaign that been marked by mudslinging unlike anything seen in recent years in Quebec. She said her husband was examining whether to take legal action. Mr. Blanchet's lawyer Richard Vachon called the news report "defamatory" and "libellous."
According to Ms. Marois, the former Liberal government was to blame for the nasty state of Quebec politics in which the current campaign has unfolded. Had former premier Jean Charest held a public inquiry into corruption sooner it would have appeased public opinion, she said.
"This has to be the most negative campaign ever," Ms. Marois said, blaming Mr. Charest for the climate of suspicion. "I resent him so much, so much. I am sick to the stomach just talking about it, because it literally devalued our institutions…and created such a bad climate of suspicion for our society."