PQ defends Boisclair after testimony at corruption inquiry

QUEBEC – The Parti Quebecois government has brushed off a demand for the suspension of Andre Boisclair, a former party leader who now holds a diplomatic post.

The request came in a volley of incendiary innuendo from the Coalition party, which asked Wednesday that Boisclair be removed from his job as Quebec’s representative in New York.

It occurred after Boisclair’s name surfaced at the provincial corruption inquiry.

A controversial former construction boss has testified that Boisclair personally intervened to make sure he got a contract just four days before the PQ lost the 2003 election; the company that won the contract, LM Sauve, had ties to the Hells Angels.

That prompted the Coalition’s Jacques Duchesneau, a crusading anti-corruption investigator and police chief before he entered politics, to draw links between the criminal organization and the fact that Boisclair has admitted to using cocaine before.

Duchesneau wondered whether Boisclair might have put himself in a situation where he felt forced to hand out that $2.5 million contract just before an election.

“I am making a link between the $2.5 million, someone associated with the Hells Angels, and someone who consumed (drugs) and made decisions,” Duschesneau told reporters outside the legislature chamber, before making similar remarks in TV interviews.

“So that, and other questions too, will be asked at the opportune time.”

The PQ is fuming over what it describes as a defamatory smear job.

Boisclair’s boss said he has spoken with him and has been assured that the contract was awarded properly, and he said Boisclair is willing to testify at the Charbonneau inquiry.

But what especially angered Jean-Francois Lisee, the international-relations minister, were the links Duchesneau drew between that contract and drug use.

He noted that Duchesneau has been described as Quebec’s Eliot Ness. Lisee said he’s acting more like Quebec’s Joseph McCarthy, the anti-communist demagogue.

“He made crazy statements, without any proof, about a former member of this assembly,” Lisee said of Duchesneau.

“He dishonours himself and undermines his own credibility.”

He said Duchesneau should either offer proof of what he’s insinuating, or withdraw his remarks.

Boisclair was a cabinet minister until the PQ lost the 2003 election, then became the party leader, left politics after losing the 2007 election, and was appointed to his diplomatic post last year.

Duchesneau was working for the government anti-collusion unit under the Charest Liberals and he admits he leaked a devastating report to the media that pressured the government to call the Charbonneau inquiry.

The testimony of ex-construction boss Paul Sauve, which involved Boisclair, occurred last week but was under a publication ban until Tuesday afternoon.

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