Marois unveils ethics plan

Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois has unveiled an ethics plan for the province that includes term limits for some political offices, stronger electoral oversight and a public inquiry into allegations of political corruption.

Parti Québécois calls for term limits, oversight, corruption inquiry

Pauline Marois, centre, announces her ethics plan Tuesday in Quebec City. ((CBC))
Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois has unveiled her party's plan to reduce corruption in the province.

The plan, unveiled Tuesday in Quebec City, includes term limits for some political offices, stronger electoral oversight and a public inquiry into the allegations of political corruption that have been dogging Quebec's Liberal government.

The government has been mired in scandals this year, driving Premier Jean Charest's poll numbers to historic lows.

The scandals revolve around allegations of collusion and influence-peddling in the construction industry linked to Liberal Party financing and several levels of government.

After surviving a non-confidence motion last month, Charest passed an ethics bill in the national assembly that covers conflicts of interest and establishes an ethics commissioner to oversee legislators.

But Marois says those measures are not enough and that instituting term limits on the premier would ensure a flow of new ideas and progressive policies. If the PQ were to come to power, it would limit the amount of time a premier can serve to two mandates, meaning a maximum of 10 years, Marois said.

Charest, who was first elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2007 and again in the 2008 early election he called to give his minority government a majority mandate, is two years into his third mandate as premier.

Under Marois's plan, mayors of municipalities with more than 5,000 people would be allowed to serve a maximum of three mandates.

Marois says she wants leaders to have fresh ideas.

"When you want to have a new regard on the government, on the policies, on the organization of the government, I think it's important to have new people at the head of the government, and it is why we think 10 years is enough," said Marois.

Charest backs police probe over inquiry

Marois says she would call a public inquiry into the corruption allegations that have surfaced in the past year and have an independent prosecutor advise the government on the inquiry's mandate.

Marois has been pressuring the Charest government to call such an inquiry, but Charest has said he favours police and task-force investigations, which he says are more effective.

The provincial police launched an anti-corruption probe in October 2009 dubbed Operation Hammer, which is looking into the accusations of collusion and influence-peddling connected to various construction and public works contracts.

The PQ plan also includes increasing the number of inspectors at the office of the chief electoral officer and protecting whistleblowers.

With files from CBC's Salimah Shivji