The Code of ethics and conduct of the Members of the National Assembly (chapter C-23.1) was adopted unanimously in December 2010.
The Code first affirms the important role Members play and recognizes the expectations of the people of Québec with regard to their Members of the National Assembly (MNAs). It also states the key values of the National Assembly, to which the Members must adhere. It states the rules of ethics and conduct to be observed by Members and Cabinet Ministers (Conseil exécutif) and defines how these rules will be monitored and enforced. It establishes that the Ethics Commissioner is responsible for the administration of the Code.
In 2013, two sets of rules applicable to political staff came into force: the Rules of conduct applicable to the staff of Members and House officers of the National Assembly (Rules) and the Regulation respecting the rules of conduct applicable to the office staff of Ministers (Regulation). The implementation of such rules was planned in the bill enacting the Code. The provisions of these two texts are substantially similar. They reflect the values stated in the Code, as well as some of its rules of conduct.
The Ethics Commissioner is responsible for enforcing the legal provisions and regulations provided for in these texts.
On May 18, 2017, the Québec National Assembly appointed lawyer Ariane Mignolet as Ethics Commissioner. Her five-year term began on May 29, 2017. She is the second person to hold this position since the adoption of the Code of ethics and conduct of the Members of the National Assembly in 2010.
For nearly 17 years, Ms. Mignolet held a number of positions in the National Assembly, during which she developed thorough knowledge of the issues related to the parliamentary procedure. Between 2000 and 2007, she successively held the positions of Clerk of the Committee on Public Finance and Parliamentary Procedure Adviser. She was then appointed Director of the Assembly Secretariat. In 2009, she became Director of Parliamentary Procedure and then headed the new Parliamentary Affairs Directorate created in 2010.
When she was appointed Ethics Commissioner, Ms. Mignolet had been Director General of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of the National Assembly since 2011. As such, she acted as a legal adviser to the Secretary General and administrative units in all areas of law related to the National Assembly and its Members’ activities. She also organized the activities for all the directorates of the parliamentary sector and acted as table officer when it convened.
Throughout her career at the National Assembly, Ms. Mignolet shared her expertise both with Québec and countries abroad. She has trained high-ranking government officials and representatives as part of activities sponsored by the École nationale d’administration publique and the Secrétariat aux emplois supérieurs, among others. She also participated in numerous missions abroad, especially as part of activities of the Association des secrétaires généraux des parlements de la Francophonie.
Ms. Mignolet is a law graduate from the Université de Montréal and has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1998.
To ensure the independence and impartiality of the person holding the position of Commissioner, the appointment must be approved by two thirds of the Members of the National Assembly.
In addition, the nomination must be jointly proposed by the Prime Minister and the leader of the official opposition, after consulting the leaders of the other authorized parties represented in the National Assembly.
The Commissioner is appointed for a five-year term, which can be renewed by the Members of the National Assembly.
Appointed unanimously by the National Assembly on December 9, 2010, lawyer Jacques Saint-Laurent was Ethics Commissioner from January 6, 2011, to May 28, 2017.
A graduate from the Université Laval, Mr. Saint-Laurent began his career as a lawyer at the Rivard Hickson firm. In 1981, he was a lawyer for the legal services of the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST), and in 1985, he became the first director of the CSST’s peer review board.
In 1987, Mr. Saint-Laurent continued his legal career with the Ministère de la Justice’s administrative law branch. From 1988 to 1993, he was the Director of Legal Affairs for the Ministère de la Sécurité publique and then held a similar position at the Ministère des Ressources naturelles from 1993 to 1995.
From 1995 to 2001, the Ministère de la Justice assigned Mr. Saint-Laurent to the Québec Courthouse as director of the legal department. He was then promoted to Assistant Deputy Minister and Directeur de l’état civil du Québec for the Ministère des Relations avec les citoyens et de l’Immigration.
He was unanimously appointed chair of the Commission d’accès à l’information by the National Assembly in 2004. Mr. Saint-Laurent was still in this position when he was appointed Ethics Commissioner.
The Act respecting the National Assembly established the office of jurisconsult, which is now provided for in the Code. The Code states that the jurisconsult must be appointed unanimously by the members of the Office of the National Assembly for a term of five years.
The jurisconsult is responsible for providing advisory opinions on ethics and professional conduct to any Member who requests it. The advisory opinions provided by the jurisconsult are confidential, unless the Member concerned consents to their disclosure.
The advisory opinions provided by the jurisconsult are not binding on the Ethics Commissioner. Further, the jurisconsult may not provide an advisory opinion to a Member who is under verification or inquiry until the verification or inquiry process is completed.
The current jurisconsult is lawyer Jean-Louis Baudouin, who was appointed to this position on December 3, 2015.
For more information on the jurisconsult’s role, see the section on this topic on the National Assembly’s website (French only).