Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is defending himself against allegations he demoted his transport minister for uncovering mismanagement and intimidation in the Ministry of Transport.

The opposition accused Couillard today in the National Assembly of demoting Robert Poeti after the minister flagged a series of irregularities in his department, including the way public contracts were awarded.

Couillard said he demoted Poeti in January because he wanted to make room in his cabinet for more women and young people.

Quebec's L'actualité magazine reported that Poeti had discovered transport employees were being intimidated by their superiors and that embarrassing cost overruns on public projects were hidden.

The magazine also reported that former employees were given no-bid contracts worth slightly under $25,000, which is the legal limit that triggers a call for tenders.


Former transport minister Robert Poeti was demoted Poeti in January. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Poeti said today he believed Couillard when he said he was demoted to make the cabinet more diverse.