Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Pauline Marois vows to raise standards for political office in Quebec

Opposition Leader Pauline Marois speaks to reporters at a news conference marking the last day of the fall session at the Quebec National Assembly on Dec. 10, 2010.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois proposes to set higher standards for political ethics in the province as well as recommending a limit of two terms or a maximum tenure of 10 years for future premiers.

If elected premier, Ms. Marois promised she would introduce sweeping changes to restore voter confidence in public institutions after a year marked by political scandals and accusations of corruption, collusion and influence peddling.

She blamed what she called Premier Jean Charest's fickle political morality in refusing to bow to demands for a public inquiry into the scandals, saying it was the main reason for the public's disaffection toward politicians.

Story continues below advertisement

"One of the ways to make sure policies are more transparent and to help restore people's confidence in politicians … is to ensure renewal at the highest level [of office]" Ms. Marois said during a news conference on Tuesday.

The PQ Leader also called for limits of three terms, or a maximum of 12 years, on the tenure of mayors of municipalities with populations of more than 5,000. Ms. Marois was taking aim at mayors such as Gilles Vaillancourt of Laval, Richard Marcotte of Mascouche and Jean-Marc Robitaille of Terrebonne. Mr. Vaillancourt faces influence-peddling accusations and Mr. Marcotte and Mr. Robitaille have been accused of conflict of interest.

Not since Maurice Duplessis in the 1950s has a premier in Quebec won more than two terms for a period of more than 10 years. Mr. Charest won a third consecutive term in 2008. His tenure includes the election in 2007 of the province's first minority government in more than a century. The Liberals have been in office since 2003.

In gauging the public's concern over political ethics, Ms. Marois called for a term limit on premiers at a time when more than 250,000 people have signed a National Assembly on-line petition calling for Mr. Charest's resignation.

The PQ Leader's controversial proposal had the added bonus of sparking an immediate debate and keeping the spotlight on the allegations of corruption after last Friday's adjournment of the National Assembly until February.

The proposal was swiftly condemned by the Liberals as a "drastic" and "radical" change that undermined the democratic process.

"They want to take away the fundamental right of people to express their support for the candidate of their choice," Liberal Party Whip Pierre Moreau said. "It's not up to a political party to decide for voters whether someone has had a good mandate and the competent person to seek to run again."

Story continues below advertisement

The Action Démocratique du Québec couldn't resist the temptation to wade in on the debate, saying the PQ proposal would turn the premier into a lame duck leader.

In total, 16 proposals were unveiled by the PQ Leader to show that, if elected, her government would act promptly to eradicate political corruption in the province.

A PQ government, she said, would appoint an independent prosecutor who would set the parameters for a full public inquiry into corruption and collusion in the construction industry, the awarding of government contracts and the financing of political parties.

Ms. Marois also called for legislation to protect whistle blowers in the civil service, eliminate political interference in the nomination of judges, and impose tougher standards in the awarding of all government related contracts.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.