Quebec’s second opposition party, la Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), is demanding Premier Pauline Marois recall André Boisclair from his post as Quebec’s chief trade representative in New York City, following newly released testimony from the Charbonneau commission.

CAQ MNA Jacques Duchesneau wants Boisclair to be suspended from his duties until “light is shed” on evidence that the former PQ municipal affairs minister awarded a contract to his close friend and political fundraiser, businessman Paul Sauvé, just four days before a provincial election call in 2003.

Sauvé raised cash for Liberal MNA

Sauvé's testimony has tainted the provincial Liberals as well, since they were left to find the money to honour the $2.5 million grant after the PQ lost the election.

Sauve said he received the money after organizing a fundraising event for Boisclair’s successor in the municipal affairs portfolio, Liberal MNA Jean-Marc Fournier.

Fournier denies that, insisting the commitment made by the outgoing PQ government left his ministry with no choice but to find the money for the project.

A letter from Boisclair to the minister of St. James United Church on April 10, 2003 promised $2.5 million toward major renovations at the historic church in downtown Montreal  a project spearheaded by Sauvé.

Sauvé told the commission last week he got the go-ahead for the project because of his friendship with Boisclair.

Subsidy 'sad and troubling,' Duchesneau says

“Giving a subsidy four days before an election you know you’re going to lose puts the burden on the next government,” said Duchesneau in an interview on CBC Montreal’s Radio Noon. “That’s sad...and very troubling.”

In the national assembly today, International Relations Minister Jean-François Lisée said he has no plans to recall Boisclair from New York.

“I talked to him Monday,” Lisée said. “He said he is available to the commission or the police to answer any questions. He thinks everything was done above board.”

Role of organized crime?

Duchesneau said Sauvé has also said he had business dealings with a known criminal organization, the Hells Angels.

“Was Minister Boisclair coerced?” Duchesneau asked, recalling Boisclair’s 2005 admission that he was a cocaine user. “Where do you get cocaine? ...Is it not through organized crime? That’s the link that really concerns me.”

Paul Sauvé

Businessman Paul Sauvé testified at the Charbonneau inquiry that he received a $2.5 million grant four days before the 2003 election call because of his friendship with André Boisclair. (Radio-Canada)

“To me, all these questions really affect his credibility and his judgment. And he’s our ambassador in New York.”

Boisclair demands apology

Lisée said Duchesneau's comments about Boisclair's past drug use and his connections smack of defamation, and he demanded the CAQ politician apologize.

"Creating accusations out of nowhere, with no proof whatsoever – a purely political statement," Lisée said. "I have esteem for Mr. Duchesneau. I'm very disappointed with what he did today."

"I hope he regroups and takes back his words."

Boisclair, too, is demanding a retraction and says he will send a lawyer's letter to Duchesneau Thursday, demanding an apology. 

Duchesneau is refusing to back down, saying he is simply posing questions.