October 29th 2020 - Today, the President of the National Assembly tabled an inquiry report from the Ethics Commissioner regarding the Minister of Economy and Innovation and Member for Terrebonne Mr. Pierre Fitzgibbon (the “Minister”). The report focuses on the Minister’s interests in MOVE Protéine, on the appointment of Investissement Québec’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and on the Minister’s exchanges with Mr. Luc Laperrière, a long-time friend, on matters in respect of which Mr. Laperrière also acts as a lobbyist. These issues were raised in inquiry requests made by the Member for René-Lévesque Mr. Martin Ouellet in April 2019, the Member for Rosemont Mr. Vincent Marissal in April and June 2019 and the Member for Acadie Ms. Christine St-Pierre in September 2019.
The Commissioner determined that the Minister was in violation of section 53 of the Code of ethics and conduct of the Members of the National Assembly (the “Code”), in relation to the transfer of his shares in MOVE Protéine to Mr. Laperrière, by failing to notify the Commissioner of this material change within the time required by the Code. However, no sanction was recommended in this regard.
In the case of the appointment of Mr. Guy Leblanc as President and CEO of Investissement Québec, the Commissioner found that there had been no violation of sections 15 and 16 of the Code. Indeed, the Minister did not place himself in a situation where his private interest might influence his independence of judgment in carrying out the duties of office. Furthermore, he did not act or exercise influence to improperly further the interests of Mr. LeBlanc.
Lastly, on the issue of the exchanges and meetings between the Minister and Mr. Laperrière, the Commissioner found that there had been no violation of sections 16 and 29 of the Code. Indeed, the Minister did not improperly further the interests of Mr. Laperrière, and the transfer of shares in MOVE Protéine was not made in exchange for the Minister speaking or taking a certain position on any issue. However, there was a violation of section 15 of the Code, given that the Minister placed himself in a situation where his private interest may impair his independence of judgment in carrying out the duties of office. In this case, and taking into account the importance of this section in the prevention of conflicts of interest, the Commissioner recommended that the Minister be the object of a reprimand. Maintaining independence of judgment is fundamental in carrying out a public office, and Members of the National Assembly are expected to take all reasonable means at their disposal to avoid putting themselves in a situation where their private interest may influence their independence of judgment in carrying out the duties of office.
Importance of Preventing Conflicts of Interest
Strict boundaries between an elected representative’s private interests and their duties of office as a Member of the National Assembly or as a minister are imperative in ensuring and maintaining the public’s trust. The Commissioner underscored that “[Translation] In a democratic society such as ours, it is important for all to have an equal opportunity to gain access to a person elected by citizens to represent them. When, in addition, that person is a Cabinet member, with the level of influence and responsibility such an office entails, the measures aimed at preventing situations of conflicts of interest and at offering equal access to all must be all the more rigorous.” In that respect, the Commissioner offers her full co-operation, and that of her office, to Members of the National Assembly for the implementation of such measures.
Report (in French only)
Report Summary (English version available soon)
Code of ethics and conduct of the Members of the National Assembly
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Source and Information:
Communications and Institutional Relations Adviser
Ethics Commissioner’s Office