Montreal

Charest defends against WikiLeaks report

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is on the defensive after a leaked Wikileaks cable implies the premier is unduly influenced by Montreal-based conglomerate Power Corporation.

Cable from U.S. ambassador questions corporate influence on Quebec premier

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is on the defensive after a WikiLeaks cable implies the premier is unduly influenced by Montreal-based conglomerate Power Corporation.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is on the defensive after a WikiLeaks cable is made public. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

In a cable obtained by WikiLeaks and published in French-language daily Le Devoir, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, wrote the influence that Power Corporation has on the energy policies of provincial and federal governments is "undeniable."

The cable was sent after the 2009 Copenhagen conference on climate change, and in it, Jacobson questioned "whether [Jean] Charest was influenced by Power Corp to tone down his criticism of the federal government," according to the extract published in Le Devoir.

Power Corp. is the largest individual shareholder in French company, Total S.A., which had invested heavily in Alberta's oil sands.

In the cable, Jacobson writes: "by the end of the conference [Charest] lay low, passing on further media opportunities to criticise Harper...".

At the national assembly Wednesday, Charest refused to answer questions from reporters on the matter, but the premier produced an article written several weeks after the conference in which Charest is praised for his tough stance on defending the environment during the summit.

During question period, Charest dismissed the allegations of corporate influence.

"I have no inhibition regardless of where I am, whether it be in Cacouna or Copenhagen, to defend Quebec’s interests," Charest said.