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Jacques Duchesneau refuses to apologize for Boisclair comments

Coalition Avenir Quebec legislature member Jacques Duchesneau comments on former Parti Quebecois minister Andre Boisclair, Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at the legislature in Quebec City. .
Coalition Avenir Quebec legislature member Jacques Duchesneau comments on former Parti Quebecois minister Andre Boisclair, Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at the legislature in Quebec City. . Jacques Boissinot, The Canadian Press

QUEBEC CITY – CAQ MNA Jacques Duchesneau is refusing to apologize for comments he made about former PQ minister André Boisclair.

Duchesneau suggested Boisclair’s past use of cocaine influenced his awarding of public subsidies. Boisclair quickly denounced the comments as defamatory and served Duchesneau a legal notice urging him to retract.

Not only did he not retract, he went further on Thursday, digging into André Boisclair’s past.

“Where was Boisclair buying his cocaine when he was minister?” asked Duchesneau.

Following Paul Sauvé’s testimony at the Charbonneau commission, Duchesneau drew links between Sauvé, his good friend Boisclair, the Hell’s Angels and Boisclair’s admitted use of cocaine. He wondered out loud whether Boisclair was pressured into granting his friend a $2.6 million subsidy to renovate St. James church, just days before the PQ lost the 2003 election.

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The allegations scandalized the Parti Québécois and earned Duchesneau a legal notice from Boisclair urging him to retract or face legal proceedings.

“These are serious accusations,” said Premier Pauline Marois. “Mr. Duchesneau has to explain and apologize.”

On Thursday, Duchesneau responded: “My point is this morning I have questions, rightful questions and he has to come forward and give us the answers to the questions we have, not try to bully me by sending a petition.”

Boisclair, now Quebec’s representative in New York, denied any wrongdoing and launched a petition asking for public support. More than a thousand people have signed.

“Mr. Boisclair has the right to put a petition together but we have the right to ask questions,” said CAQ leader François Legault.

A war of allegations erupted at the National Assembly, with the PQ firing back and producing documents showing their former colleague, François Legault, awarding $14 million to a hospital during that same election campaign. Legault admitted he did award that contract, but said he did not give money to a company run by a friend.