Skip to main content

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, centre, is all smiles after she announced the nomination of Environment Minister Yves Francois Blanchet, right, and Veronique Hivon, left, to regain her junior Social Services cabinet, Dec. 4, 2012, in Quebec City.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Parti Québécois government has been hit with allegations of patronage and favouritism over the lucrative appointment of former party leader André Boisclair, who was named Quebec's delegate general in New York last month.

When Mr. Boisclair was named to the post, the PQ failed to mention that he was also appointed assistant deputy minister of International Affairs. The unprecedented move makes Mr. Boisclair, 46, eligible to receive the full benefits granted to a senior civil servant after he completes his term as delegate general – including lifetime job security in the civil service with a minimum annual salary of $170,000 indexed to the cost of living.

He is also eligible at the age of 55 to a generous pension, which he will receive over and above what he gets for having served as a Member of the National Assembly for more than 15 years.

Story continues below advertisement

"Even the Liberals, who were the champions of partisan nominations, never did this," said Coalition Avenir Quebec House Leader Gérard Deltell. "The government has created quite a precedent where from now on partisan diplomatic nominations will be covered by a golden parachute."

The controversy erupted just as Premier Pauline Marois had Yves-François Blanchet sworn in as Quebec's new environment minister, a position held until last week by Daniel Breton.

Mr. Breton resigned after his troubled past came to light, including EI-related fraud and non-payment of rent. He was also under attack for having met with members of the environmental assessment board, which, according to the opposition, amounted to political interference, compromising the board's independence.

By moving quickly to replace Mr. Breton, Ms. Marois hoped to turn the page on the incident but found herself on the defensive over the Boisclair nomination.

Minister of International Affairs Jean-François Lisée attempted to justify the appointment by saying that it was a practice borrowed from the federal government, and used the example of Canadian ambassador to France, Lawrence Cannon, to make his point.

"Lawrence Cannon is the Canadian ambassador in Paris and he was named simultaneously assistant deputy minister to Foreign Affairs and ambassador to Paris," Mr. Lisée said in the National Assembly.

Mr. Lisée's statement, the CAQ charged, was misleading. "Mr. Cannon wasn't given the job security offered Mr. Boisclair. Mr. Lisée misled the National Assembly," said CAQ Leader François Legault.

Story continues below advertisement

Even the pro-sovereignty Quebec Solidaire party attacked the PQ for what it called the "taste of patronage" and "favouritism."

"While the Quebec government is telling the middle class and the poorest members of society that they should tighten their belts, this nomination frankly is indecent," said QS party co-leader Françoise David.

Yet, Ms. Marois, who promised during the election campaign to put an end to what she called the patronage and favouritism of the former Liberal regime that fuelled a system of corruption in the province, stood steadfast behind the decision to hire Mr. Boisclair.

"Nobody can call into question the competence and credentials of André Boisclair … he almost became premier of Quebec," Ms. Marois said in defending the nomination.

In fact, when Mr. Boisclair was elected party leader in 2005, he led the PQ in the general election two years later to one of its poorest results to date, driving it down to third-party status in the National Assembly.

This was not Mr. Lisée's first controversial appointment. He is also minister responsible for Montreal and he appointed as deputy minister André Lavallée, a close associate of Gérald Tremblay, who resigned as mayor amid allegations of kickbacks and influence peddling. Mr. Lavallée denied having any knowledge of the system of corruption that, according to testimony before the Charbonneau Commission, was rampant in the city.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies