Quebec provincial police have arrested a man in connection with the alleged theft of sensitive documents from the vehicle of the province’s immigration minister.
Simon Jolin-Barrette described the situation as frustrating and worrying to reporters on Thursday at the National Assembly.
“When we are the victim of a theft, it’s not a pleasant experience,” he said.
The alleged theft took place late Wednesday night in the parking lot of Complexe G at the provincial legislature. Jolin-Barrette said the documents — which were reportedly both work-related and personal — have since been returned.
The reportedly stolen items included an iPad, according to Jolin-Barrette. When asked if he left his car doors unlocked, the immigration minister did not answer.
Quebec provincial police have launched an investigation into the alleged theft. Police say the suspect, who was quickly arrested, does not have any connection to Jolin-Barrette.
Police said the suspect had no ties to the vehicle’s owner, the province’s Public Safety Department, and investigators believe the man had been trying to break into several cars in search of money.
The suspect has since been released and will return to court at a later date.
When asked about the incident, Premier François Legault said he doesn’t know if there are rules about transporting government documents. He said he has also sometimes left them in his car.
“It’s a question of judgment,” he said. “But very often we have to travel to many places but I don’t think we bring all documents every time.”
‘It’s mistake after mistake’
Marwah Rizqy, the Liberal MNA for Saint-Laurent, said the incident shows that Jolin-Barrette is “too busy” and has too much on his plate in his role in the Legault government.
“It’s totally unacceptable that he left the documents in his car,” Rizqy said. “It’s mistake after mistake.”
Last week, Jolin-Barrette announced he was backtracking on his proposed changes to a popular immigration program following public outcry. He issued an apology Tuesday, saying he had made a mistake.
“I think after last week Mr. Simon Jolin-Barrette has to understand he has too many things to handle,” Rizqy said.
Parti Québécois interim leader Pascal Bérubé told reporters he doesn’t leave work-related documents in his vehicle, but doesn’t want to blame Jolin-Barrette. He said the immigration minister takes the situation “very seriously.”
“We don’t know yet what happened,” he said.
—With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and the Canadian Press