QUEBEC CITY – A Quebec politician’s vacation while on paid leave is raising eyebrows at the National Assembly.
Treasury Board Chair Sam Hamad is facing allegations he gave privileged information to a firm run by Marc-Yvan Coté, one of seven people arrested by Quebec’s anti-corruption squad last month that include former deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau.
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Now, Hamad’s decision to take a vacation in Florida is generating criticism.
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“He should be here. He should be in a position to do his job and his job is here. It’s not to be in Florida,” said Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau.
“You cannot, when you’re asking yourself for an inquiry about yourself, go out of Quebec, come on,” added CAQ leader François Legault.
Hamad maintains he has done nothing wrong, but stepped away from his cabinet duties on Saturday while calling on the ethics commissioner to conduct an investigation.
Even members of the Liberal cabinet questioned Hamad’s trip to Florida.
“I think he took the good decision to come back to Quebec. It is important for him to be here in place and to answer the questions of the Commissaire à l’éthique,” said International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre.
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Other ministers tried to distance themselves from the Hamad issue, while some cabinet defended their colleague.
“He needed some time because as a human being, seeing what people say that you are – knowing you are not that – that can create a reaction,” said government house leader Jean-Marc Fournier.
Premier Philippe Couillard was tight-lipped, repeating Hamad will be returning soon to Quebec.
“The only thing I will say again, is he’s coming back on Thursday and that’s good,” he said.