Ouimet calls for improvements to Péquiste anti-corruption bill

By Robert Frank

Fabre riding’s elected representative in Quebec City rose, March 19 to warn fellow legislators about flaws he sees in the Parti québécois’ new draft law to combat corruption.

Gilles Ouimet told the provincial parliamentarians that “with a few additions” Bill 17 is, for the most part, the same as another draft law—Bill 79—introduced by the previous, Liberal government.

He nonetheless singled out a clause “where it is proposed to create a new offence…in order to root out collusion, conspiracy, corruption and the misappropriation of funds.”

While Ouimet expressed the support of the Liberal caucus for stamping out such acts, the former president of the Quebec Bar Association reminded the lawmakers that “a laudable goal may produce a counterproductive measure. And, Mr. Speaker, I unfortunately am obliged to tell you that this is the case.”

He explained that putting the provision in the new law in its current form would throw a monkey-
wrench into the works of professional corporations’ existing ethics bodies.

“In short, it will create delays, which is the opposite of the objective that we’re trying to achieve with Bill 17,” he described the current wording.

“We support the goal of rooting out collusion, corruption and the misappropriation of funds from the professional system,” he continued, “but unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I think that if Bill 17 remains in its present form, not only will we not achieve it, but we will actually will impair the ability of ethics officials.”

“So I hope that the Minister [of Justice] has listened attentively and has taken good notes, because I’m eager to see what he will suggest we do, when we reach the point where we review [this draft legislation] line by line.”

“If the Minister of Justice keeps an open mind, and we work together and cooperate with the other opposition party, I’m convinced that we can quickly pass this law and improve our professional justice system,” Ouimet concluded.

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