January 24, 2017 5:39 pm
Updated: January 24, 2017 6:07 pm

CAQ MNA Claude Surprenant kicked out of caucus over expense claims

WATCH ABOVE: During its pre-sessional caucus, Coalition Avenir Quebec leader François Legault punished one of his MNAs over questionable expenses. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

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Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) MNA Claude Surprenant faced the media Tuesday to speak about his questionable expense claims.

Party leader leader François Legault had announced the Groulx MNA would no longer be part of caucus.

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“I’ve made those mistakes with good faith,” Surprenant said.

While he didn’t do anything illegal, he was forced to reimburse the National Assembly about $500.

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“I have a good reputation. I’ve been in the financial business about 27 years and everyone you talk to will tell you that my past is OK,” Surprenant said.

Legault defended Surprenant Monday, but replaced him early Tuesday morning as transport critic with Deux-Montagnes MNA Benoit Charette.

Some caucus members said they believe the bad publicity hurt the party.

“The message we try to send to the population is not the good one this morning,” said Eric Caire, MNA for La Peltrie.

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Tuesday afternoon, Legault announced he had kicked Surprenant out of the caucus pending an ethics commissioner report.

“I founded the CAQ based on the importance of integrity,” Legault explained.

He insisted he was willing to overlook what he calls “small errors,” but said there were just too “many problems” with Surprenant’s expenses.

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“One, you say, ‘I can understand that it was done in good faith. When you have two, you say ‘it’s a bit tough to believe,’ but when you have four, or five or six,” Legault said.

Legault said while the choice to get rid of Surprenant was personally difficult, he has to protect the image of his party.

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The party is trying to gain momentum after Monday’s Leger poll showed they are still trailing behind the Liberals and the Parti Québécois (PQ).

During the pre-sessional caucus in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal, Legault criticized the provincial Liberal government for not doing enough to close the wage gap between Quebec and Ontario.

Without more high-paying jobs, especially in the manufacturing industry, Legault argued Quebec’s economy is in a precarious position to face Donald Trump‘s administration, which could threaten Quebec exports to the United States.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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