A former family minister in Premier Jean Charest's Quebec cabinet has been slapped with three criminal charges in the latest ethics embarrassment to befall the government.
Tony Tomassi faces charges of fraud and breach of trust. They stem from accusations that he accepted material rewards from a company that had received government money.
Tony Tomassi faces 3 charges:
- 2 fraud counts [Criminal Code 121 (1) a), article 121 (1) c)].
- 1 count of breach of trust [Criminal Code article 122].
The Montreal-area legislator was the most scandal-prone minister in Charest's scandal-plagued government.
Last year, he was forced to resign amid accusations that he had been using a credit card supplied to him by a private security firm — a firm that had received millions in government grants.
In the weeks before his departure, Tomassi had also been battered with allegations of cronyism in the awarding of contracts for public day-care permits.
He was the minister of families, responsible for running Quebec's iconic $7-a-day public day-care system.
Tomassi must now appear in court in Quebec City on Nov. 14.
Before that, he must appear at provincial police headquarters in Montreal to have his fingerprints taken.
Charest is out of the country on a 10-day European trip and was not immediately available for comment.
Corruption cloud hangs over Quebec
The premier has been under intense pressure to call a public inquiry into political corruption.
He has repeatedly resisted those calls and pointed to other measures he's taken — including new fundraising and contracting rules, in addition to creating an anti-corruption unit.
The charges against Tomassi stemmed from the work of that provincial anti-corruption unit, which comprises a police squad nicknamed Operation Hammer.
Tomassi is accused of using, from Nov. 1 2007 to May 6, 2010, a credit card supplied by the now-bankrupt Canadian Bureau of Investigations.
Better known as BCIA, the firm had received a $4-million grant from the Quebec government before it declared bankruptcy.
At the time, Charest called the accusation serious and said he had forced Tomassi to tender his resignation.
"These are troubling facts that raise questions," Charest said last year.
"As premier of Quebec and head of the government, I cannot accept a situation like that."
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Tony Tomassi was a former Quebec finance minister. In fact, he was a former family minister.Oct 13, 2013 2:25 AM ET