Candidate called to explain allegation of ‘political interference’ in policing
MONTREAL — A star candidate’s claim that he’d experienced political interference when he was a police officer made waves on the Quebec campaign trail on Sunday, as members of the opposing parties called on Ian Lafreniere to clarify his remarks.
Lafreniere, a longtime Montreal police spokesman and current Coalition Avenir Quebec candidate, told TVA on Saturday that the thing he hated most about being a police officer was the “political interference” — though he did not go into details about the allegation.
Reaction among the other parties was swift, with Liberal party candidate Marc Tanguay accusing Lafreniere of undermining confidence in public institutions and questioning why he didn’t denounce the interference as it occurred.
“If he had been a witness of political interference, which is unacceptable, it was his duty to denounce it at the time,” Tanguay told a news conference on Sunday.
He also suggested that Lafreniere’s statements were hypocritical, because one of the Coalition Avenir Quebec’s commitments is to review the nomination process for the heads of the province’s police forces, including the anti-corruption squad, the Montreal police and the provincial police.
In Vaudreuil, west of Montreal, Coalition Leader Francois Legault said his plan is to ensure the head of the anti-corruption unit, known as UPAC, would be confirmed through a two-thirds vote of the legislature in order to ensure neutrality.
“The (Parti Quebecois) is in agreement with that, the only one who is not in agreement with that is Philippe Couillard and the Liberal Party,” Legault said of his rival, the outgoing premier.
“So why do the Liberal Party want to choose the UPAC boss alone?”
Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee, meanwhile, questioned Lafreniere’s credibility and called on the candidate to provide proof of the serious accusations he made.
“I’m ready to believe it, but show it,” he said at a campaign stop in Sept-Iles, in the Cote-Nord region of eastern Quebec.
On Friday, Legault said he was considering whether to offer police protection to Lafreniere after campaign-style posters depicting the ex-police officer with a bullet in his head were recently displayed at a junior college north of Montreal.
- Morgan Lowrie
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018
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