Parti Québécois Member of National Assembly Guy Leclair has been discarded from the party’s caucus after being charged with drunk driving on July 13.
The Journal de Montreal reported on Tuesday that Leclair had refused to submit to a breathalyzer test after being stopped by police officers. He was found in a parking lot at the time of his arrest.
Leclair announced Wednesday night that he would not stand stand for re-election in his riding of Beauharnois.
While not denying that he had been arrested, Leclair rejected the idea that he had broken the law, and asserted that he had taken the breathalyzer–in contradiction with police reporting. He affirmed that a witness would be able confirm to corroborate his story.
“I maintain that I had in no case violated the law. Furthermore, I never refused to pass a breathalyzer test. On two occasions, I complied with the police’s demands to submit to their test.”
A dirty campaign
Leclair had been arrested once before for drunk driving in 2011. Although he proclaimed his innocence at the time of the arrest, Leclair finally pleaded guilty to the charges in 2013.
Bernard Drainville, a former Parti Quebecois Member of National Assembly and current radio host, advised his former colleague to withdraw from the political stage.
“The next few weeks, it’s going to be difficult. Do you really want to live through that? Do you really want to be part of an election with all that above your head?”
Drainville also went on to claim that the timing of the revelation was no coincidence.
“The political parties have gone there. They’re looking for skeletons in the closets of others… I’ll tell you this… [the campaign] will become more and more dirty.”
PQ leader Lisée left in the dark
According to TVA Nouvelles, Guy Leclair confirmed not reporting the arrest to party leader Jean-Francois Lisee until August 24, a month and a half after the incident took place.
However, Lisee has continued to stand by Leclair, although he had been discarded from the Parti Québécois’ caucus Wednesday.
“This man has the right to the presumption of innocence. If there is a trial, he has a right to his trial… so no, I won’t cede to the pressure that says ‘forget your principles of justice because you’re in an election campaign!”
Despite his support for Leclair, Lisee was nonetheless quick to denounce CAQ candidate Éric Caire for receiving a loan from a mayor in his riding.
“You’re a member [Éric Caire] of the National Assembly, you take a loan from an important mayor in your riding, if you did not understand that this wasn’t ethical, you have no business in politics. I think his career should be finished.”
Beauharnois, A Parti Quebecois Stronghold
Leclair’s riding of Beauharnois is one of the last remaining strongholds for the PQ. The party has held the seat with no interruption since 2003. However, recent projections for the next election predict that the CAQ has an advantage in the riding–holding 36.2% in voting intentions versus the Parti Quebecois’ 27.7%. This latest scandal for the PQ is unlikely to improve their chances of holding the seat.