Recently, a senior government official in Quebec, is facing his fifth investigation by the ethics commissioner. This is a possible breach of the Code of Ethics for members of the National Assembly.
This man is Pierre Fitzgibbon, former and current minister of economy, innovation and energy. Despite all these various investigations, it did not stop Mr. Legault from adding additional powers to Mr. Fitzgibbon. He was also appointed minister responsible for regional economic development and minister responsible for the metropolis and the Montreal region.
Mr. Fitzgibbon is a businessman with a number of investments and actions in various companies, which has caused him a number of problems when it comes to compliance with the Code of Ethics for members of the National Assembly.
Pierre Fitzgibbon was elected as a member of the National Assembly for Terrebonne in the general election of October 1, 2018.
On November 20, 2018, we learned that the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly had opened an initial investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving Pierre Fitzgibbon.
On December 8, Radio Canada reported that “Commissioner Ariane Mignolet has noted breaches in the statement of the minister’s interests in certain companies that do business with the government.”
On March 12, 2021, Radio-Canada set out the fourth investigation into Mr. Fitzgibbon’s ethics that said, “This fourth report will follow up on those produced by the Commissioner in June 2019, October 2020 and December 2020.”
On June 3, 2021, the press reported that Arianne Mignolet had concluded in her report issued on June 2, that Mr. Fitzgibbon was still to this day in violation of Article 46 of the Code of Ethics, which states that a minister may not have an interest in companies doing business with the state. Yet, the member has interests in two companies, White Star Capital and ImmerVision.
It was recommended by Ms. Mignolet that “Mr. Fitzgibbon be suspended from office until he divests himself of his interests or relinquishes his position as Minister and entrusts his interests to a blind trust.”
Even Mr. Legault wanted to amend the Code of Ethics in order to protect and allow the situation of the minister of economy. Of course, the opposition rejected that.
Finally, Mr. Fitzgibbon stepped down on June 2, 2021, and eventually returned to his position quickly on September 1, 2021, claiming that he sold his shares in the two companies above in order to comply with the requirements.
Everyone believed that the many issues had ended, especially since it caused the public to ask questions about the government. How does a man with so much conflict of interest manage to get away with it so easily and keep such an important position in government?
With these various setbacks, we are therefore not surprised to hear that on October 28 another case was opened regarding Mr.Fitzgibbon, who is now facing a fifth ethical investigation. This time, this investigation is about the minister’s authorization of a $24 million investmentin LMGP, including one of the shareholders and directors, Michel Ringuet. Ringuet is also the man appointed to Minister Fitzgibbon’s blind trust and he was also a director of the company between 2013 and 2017.
Yet the government of Quebec has sent this minister to the questionable past and present at UN Climate Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
This is the first time in the history of the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly that a man has been so investigated for conflicts of interest and interferes with the Code of Ethics.
So why did he receive even more power in the government on October 20 when he was sworn in? Why do we reward people who have committed offences? When will the sixth investigation be held?
Unfortunately, the government of Quebec seems to prefer to keep corrupt friendships instead of trusting people.