PQ wants Jean Charest to appear before committee amid corruption report
QUEBEC -- The Opposition Parti Quebecois wants former premier Jean Charest to appear before a legislature committee amid reports the province's anti-corruption unit is investigating him.
The TVA network and Le Journal de Montreal reported the unit is looking into whether engineering and construction firms contributed to the Quebec Liberals between 2003 and 2013 in return for contracts and subsidies from the Charest government.
Charest was premier between 2003 and 2012.
The news outlets said the anti-corruption unit, better known in Quebec by its French-language acronym UPAC, has been looking at Charest's personal and banking information as well as his movements up until 2016.
No charges have been laid.
The media reports also said UPAC is investigating businessman Marc Bibeau, a longtime Liberal volunteer and a former fundraiser for the party.
Premier Philippe Couillard deflected questions Tuesday about his Liberal predecessor.
"Today, Quebecers are concerned first and foremost about their quality of life and their jobs," Couillard said, adding he will let institutions such as UPAC do their work.
On Tuesday, the anti-corruption unit said it had ordered an internal investigation into the leak of confidential documents in what it called an active criminal probe.
"It is not in the common interest that documents containing investigative material be distributed in the public arena," said UPAC chief Robert Lafreniere.
"This disclosure could have far-reaching consequences as UPAC investigators are now subjected to unnecessary pressure that could hinder their work."
Lafreniere said the investigation is ongoing and the evidence will be given to the Crown when it is completed.
PQ Leader Jean-Francois Lisee said Quebecers are "frustrated" by "Liberal immunity" and that he wants Charest and Bibeau to testify at a legislature committee.
"Mr. Charest and Mr. Bibeau did not take the stand, either publicly or privately, at the Charbonneau Commission (into corruption in the construction industry) and Quebecers want to get to the bottom of this," he said.
Lisee also noted that Charest's former deputy premier, Nathalie Normandeau, is awaiting trial on various charges after being arrested in March 2016.
Normandeau is charged with conspiracy, corruption, breach of trust and fraud in a scheme in which political financing and gifts were allegedly exchanged for lucrative government contracts between 2000 and 2012.
Her case is expected to resume in early June.
Bibeau's lawyer, meanwhile, reacted in a statement Tuesday.
"Our client is outraged by the fact that information, including personal information, obtained in a confidential investigation has been deliberately leaked to the media with the goal of attacking his reputation," William Brock said.
Charest had not reacted as of Tuesday afternoon.