Government not planning shakeup at the Caisse: finance minister

Quebec's finance minister is denying reports that the government is about to clean house at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Denies reports claiming Liberals want to fire fund manager's top VPs

Quebec's finance minister is denying reports that her government is about to clean house at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

Radio-Canada is reporting that the Liberal government is considering firing seven of the 11 senior vice-presidents at the pension fund manager.

The administrators are responsible for 80 per cent of the Caisse's investments, which are expected to show historic losses when 2008 results are released at the end of February.

Finance Minister Monique Jérôme-Forget replied to the report on Monday, saying that her government is not involved in any way with restructuring in the top offices of the Caisse, one of the largest institutional fund managers in North America.

"It's false … for many reasons. Among them, the government doesn't have the power," said Jérôme-Forget in an interview with Radio-Canada.

She added any personnel changes would be made by the next Caisse president, who is expected to be named in the coming months.

Radio-Canada reported Sunday that the government wants the vice-presidents gone before a new boss arrives.

The president's position is being temporarily filled by Fernand Perreault after former president Richard Guay resigned in early January.

"It is clear that all of the vice-presidents should stay in their places until we have someone permanent in charge," said Jérôme-Forget.

Opposition parties pressure government to get involved

The Liberal government has been under political pressure to do something about the troubles at the Caisse.

Late last week, both the Parti-Québécois and the Action Démocratique du Québec called on Premier Jean Charest to take action after La Presse reported that the Caisse will report its worst losses in nearly a half century when it releases its 2008 figures.

In addition to anticipated losses from the falling stock market, the Caisse is expected to take a large writedown from its holdings of asset-backed commercial paper.