Former Parti Québécois minister Jean-François Lisée is threatening to sue a current Liberal minister for defamation after she accused him of misusing government money to travel to Paris “an enormous” number of times.
Christine St-Pierre took over the position of minister for international relations and the francophonie from Lisée following the provincial election in April.
Last week, she questioned whether he had dipped into the public purse to take 11 trips to Paris during his 18-month term as PQ minister. She asked whether he had planned personal trips and then tacked on business meetings to justify the cost.
Lisée said his trips to Paris did not cost Quebec taxpayers a dime. Rather, he said, he visited France five times on government missions and had stopovers in Paris while travelling several other times.
He called the allegations false and unfounded and is demanding an apology and a retraction within a week. If he doesn’t get it, Lisée said he would sue St-Pierre for defamation of character.
“It’s insulting. It’s insulting to my family,” he said at a news conference, his pregnant wife Sandrine Perrot by his side.
St-Pierre responded late Tuesday afternoon, saying the questions she raised were legitimate and that she did not say anything defamatory.
“As minister of international relations and francophonie, I have a responsibility to act with rigour and transparency. My international missions are on behalf of Quebecers’ interests and since taking this job, I have rendered all my mission programs public," she said.
Never, she continued, had Lisée made mention of his family in his mission reports.
She said her intention was not to pry into Lisée's private life, but to account for audit documents flagged to her ministry at the end of June.
On CBC Homerun on Tuesday afternoon, Lisée said he did not accept St-Pierre's reasoning and that he would give her a week to rethink her statement.