Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The canadian Press
If the findings show that the minister Lamontagne has acted improperly and overstepped its powers, Gaétan Barrette is expected to be fined and kicked out of the council of ministers.
The Quebec liberal Party was asked Friday to the ombudsperson to investigate the dismissal by the department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the whistleblower, Louis Robert.
“[Thursday], at the end of the day, the prime minister François Legault has not only contradicts his minister of Agriculture, but also the official letter that was sent to Louis Robert. Before this new incoherence of the government, we hope that the ombudsperson to make all the light in this folder “, stated by way of a press release the spokesman of the official opposition for the treasury Board, Gaétan Barrette.
The agronomist Louis Robert is at the origin of the leak of a confidential document which has led journalists to reveal the interference of private sectors in the scientific research in the agri-environment at the Centre for research on grains (CEROM), which is funded in majority by Quebec. Mr. Robert had first denounced the situation in-house before finally turning to the media.
On the 24th of January, he was dismissed for “lack of loyalty to his employer” had transmitted a confidential document to a reporter, and for having breached its “obligations of confidentiality” states the letter of dismissal that was made public Wednesday.
In the aftermath, the minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, had been found to have “personally authorized” the dismissal of Mr. Robert. The premier of Quebec, François Legault has, however, clarified later that his dismissal was the result of a” combination of factors “, thus contradicting the letter received by the agronomist.
A situation deemed “unacceptable” by the liberal opposition, which demands therefore an investigation. If the findings show that the minister Lamontagne has acted improperly and overstepped its powers, Gaétan Barrette is expected to be fined and kicked out of the council of ministers.
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For its part, the québec ombudsman recalled that it was an independent body and that it had no duty to make investigation under the request of the government or of an opposition party. “It is sure that a public demand like this can alert us to a situation, but we will investigate on our side if there are matters to investigate or not,” said the communications advisor of the organization, Tania-Kim Milot.
Even the public Protector would embark on an investigation, it would remain confidential until the publication of the findings.
Since the entry into force of the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoing against public agencies, in may 2017, the organization has the mandate of investigations into the disclosures. But its role does not seem to be known of all, is Ms. Milot, saying that if Mr. Robert had written to the agency rather than to turn to the media, he would have been able to benefit from its protection.
Between 1 may 2017 and 31 march 2018, the québec ombudsman has received 136 disclosures of wrongdoing. To march 31, 2018, 101 cases were closed, 12 investigations were ongoing and 23 files were in the verification or analysis of admissibility.