Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The PQ MP Joël Arseneau had worn complaint over a decision by Pierre Fitzgibbon (pictured) to authorize a $24 million investment in LMPG, the company that controls the Lumenpulse business.
Cleared after a fifth investigation by the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly, Thursday, the Minister of Economy and Energy Pierre Fitzgibbon continued to cast doubt on a pheasant hunting trip , which is currently the subject of a sixth investigation due to alleged appearances of a conflict of interest.
In a report filed Thursday, Commissioner Ariane Mignolet concluded that Mr. Fitzgibbon was not in breach of a $24 million equity investment in a company in November 2021 through of the Fund for the Growth of Quebec Enterprises, which comes under his ministry.
In a press briefing, Mr. Fitzgibbon was delighted with the conclusion of this investigation, which Ms. Mignolet had agreed to open to the request of the Parti Québécois, based on information published by Le Journal de Montréal last fall.
“I think that Le Journal de Montréal< /i>and the oppositions have an interest in better understanding what a conflict of interest is,” he said, adding to journalists that he wanted to “send them to school to understand what it is. a conflict of interest”.
Last fall, PQ MP Joël Arseneau filed a complaint about the authorization given by Mr. Fitzgibbon for the investment of $ 24 million in LMPG, the company that controls the company Lumenpulse. Mr. Arseneau pointed out that Mr. Fitzgibbon was a director of LMPG from 2013 to 2017, and that an administrator of his personal assets, Michel Ringuet, was also a director and shareholder of the company.
In her document, Ms. Mignolet considered that the Minister did not place himself in a situation where his independence of judgment was compromised, since he ” had no personal interest in the matter.”
“He did not act or exercise influence in a way that improperly furthered the interests of Mr. Ringuet or the business to which he is connected,” she concluded. /p>
From 2018 to 2022, Mr. Ringuet held a blind mandate to manage the assets entrusted to him by Mr. Fitzgibbon in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.
During the previous term, Mr. Fitzgibbon escalated his run-ins with the Ethics Commissioner. His situation earned him three reprimands for breaches of the code of ethics in addition to forcing him to temporarily relinquish his ministerial duties while disposing of assets that exposed him to an appearance of conflict of interest.
Despite this, Mr. Fitzgibbon maintained on Thursday that his conduct was beyond reproach.
“There was no breach, there was no wrongdoing that was made by the Minister of Economy for four years and there won't be any others either,” he said.
A sixth commissioner's investigation is still ongoing into a pheasant hunting trip to an island in Lake Memphremagog for which the minister declined to say on Thursday who paid for it.
“That don't look at you, he said. We'll wait for the commissioner. I am under investigation, it is judicialized, we will wait for the commissioner's report and we will talk about it afterwards. »
The code of ethics prohibits MPs from accepting a gift that could influence their independence of judgment. It also requires them to disclose any gifts worth more than $200. Ms. Mignolet agreed to open an investigation into the matter in December, at the request of Québec solidaire and the Liberal Party of Québec.
The report on the LMPG investment indicates that a director of the Ministry of Economy had identified Mr. Fitzgibbon's ties to the company as a potential source of questioning. Without identifying him, the report quotes an excerpt from an email sent to the Deputy Minister.
“For sure the Minister will have questions because he has already been on the board of the company,” she wrote.
According to the report, the Deputy Minister then concluded that the fact that Mr. Fitzgibbon was a former director of LMPG had no impact on the analysis of the LMPG file.
Regarding the links between the minister and Mr. Ringuet, Ms. Mignolet asserts that he had the necessary independence to exercise the function of agent.
“In light of the evidence gathered, their relationship does not illustrate a strong attachment that could constitute a personal interest”, he said. she indicated in her report.
A few days before the conclusion of the agreement on the investment in LMPG, Mr. Ringue notified Mr. Fitzgibbon that he no longer wished to act as his agent.< /p>
“It is apparent from his testimony that he wished to cease serving as an attorney due to the negative media attention it was receiving,” writes the commissioner e.