Quebec environment minister resigns from cabinet
Daniel Breton faced fines for late tax returns
Environment Minister Daniel Breton confirmed this morning he is stepping down from his cabinet post after several embarrassing revelations from his past came to light.
Breton, the MNA for the central Montreal riding of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, will retain his seat in the legislature.
At a press conference, a somber Breton said he offered his resignation Thursday morning to Premier Pauline Marois so the issues of his past would no longer "interfere with his work and that of his government. "
The Environment Ministry confirmed yesterday that Breton committed various infractions before he went into politics.
He had several tickets for traffic violations – some for speeding and one for driving while his licence was under suspension. Until recently, most of those fines were unpaid.
He was also fined $100 on three separate occasions for making false declarations on employment insurance forms.
Between 2005 and 2009, Breton owed $7,000 in rent payments.
He was also fined for filing his taxes late.
At first, Breton denied all of those infractions except the speeding tickets. Later on Wednesday, he confirmed all were true.
Marois' office said yesterday the premier was aware of most of the infractions that Breton admitted to.
Today Marois said that she was "deeply saddened" by Breton's departure. She said that Breton made the decision to resign on his own.
Yesterday, a spokesperson for the premier's office said that Marois remained confident in the Breton.
First term as MNA
At the time of the infractions, Breton was an environmental activist and wasn't making much money according to the spokesperson.
He entered politics last winter, touted as a key candidate for the PQ on the environment portfolio.
Breton recently expressed his concerns publicly about a proposed plan to pump oil from Alberta to Quebec.
His past has drawn sharp criticism from members of the opposition, some of whom called for his resignation.
Gérard Deltell, an MNA for the CAQ, pointed out that Marois has insisted on a zero tolerance policy for ethical violations.
He said that as the head of state, Marois can't be concerned with protecting her friends.
Breton was recently criticized for interfering with Quebec's environmental review board, the BAPE.