Liberal Gaétan Barrette's $1.2M severance cheque raises eyebrows

Political opponents say a massive severance cheque paid out to Liberal candidate Gaétan Barrette is "unreasonable" and should be repaid.

La Pinière candidate defends payout, says it was based on a formula voted on by union members

Liberal candidate Gaétan Barrette responds to reporters' questions while party Leader Philippe Couillard looks on. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

Political opponents say a massive severance cheque paid out to Liberal candidate Gaétan Barrette is "unreasonable" and should be repaid.

The Quebec Liberal candidate for La Pinière confirmed to CBC’s Daybreak this morning that he received just under $1.2 million when he left his job as president of the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec in March to run in the provincial election. 

This is the second time Barrette has sought political office. In 2012, he ran under the Coaltion Avenir Québec banner.

On Wednesday, CAQ Leader François Legault said if Barette was still a member of his party, he would force the candidate to reimburse the federation or leave the party.

We still live in a country where everybody  can and should be successful- Gaétan Barrette, Liberal candidate for La Pinière

“In my opinion, it’s not reasonable to give $1.2 million,” Legault said. ​

He said it raises questions about the judgment of Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard.

"We already knew that Mr. Couillard has a lack of judgment being partners with Mr. [Arthur] Porter. I think that today we have to know from Mr. Couillard, is he in agreement with this $1.2 million given to the president of the union of doctors?"

Barette told CBC's Daybreak that the size of the severance cheque was not up to him. 

He said it was based on a formula voted on years ago by federation members.

"In order for everyone to have their fair share in society, you need to have a strong economy. You have to develop our economy," Barette told Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.

"We still live in a country where everybody can and should be successful."

The Liberal party leader jumped to Barette's defense at a campaign stop in Trois-Rivières.

"[Legault] would have had the same issue to deal with, had Mr. Barette been elected [as a CAQ candidate]," Couillard said. 

He said he's comfortable with the payout, despite its size.

"It's paid by the [federation] members membership money. Half of it is already back in the government's coffers. It severs the ties between Dr. Barette and his federation ... I am very proud to have him in our service," Couillard said.