Quebec Votes·Q & A

Gilles Duceppe defends PKP's choice to hold on to media interests

The former leader of the Bloc Québécois is among 12 high-profile sovereignist who are publicly defending Pierre Karl Péladeau's candidacy and his decision to hold on to his Quebecor shares.

Pierre Karl Péladeau is following the law, former Bloc leader tells CBC's Daybreak

Former leader of the Bloc Québécois, Gilles Duceppe, said media mogul and PQ star candidate Pierre Karl Péladeau would be held to the same standard as all MNAs if he is elected.

A group of 12 high-profile members of the sovereignty movement, including Louise Harel, Bernard Landry, Jacques Parizeau and Gilles Duceppe, have publicly stepped forward to throw their support behind the controversial candidacy of billionaire media mogul, Pierre Karl Péladeau. 

Duceppe, the former leader of the Bloc Quebecois, spoke with CBC's Daybreak Montreal host Mike Finnerty this morning, saying "the law is the law is the law," and Péladeau should be held to the same standard as any MNA, regardless of his business interests. 

Q: Why would it be going too far to ask Pierre Karl Péladeau to divest himself of that bulk of media interests?

A: He’s respecting the law and the power of the national assembly… And he said he will respect the decisions made by the ethics commission. If there is new prescriptions on that, we’ll respect them. But it’s tough to ask someone to do more than respecting the law. And the other thing is that we don’t want Quebecor to be sold to a foreign company… I think it’s important that it stays in Quebec and it’s important to make sure that head offices are in Quebec.

Any country is trying to do so. Why not Quebec?

Q: Are you not worried about the hyper-concentration of media in one company’s hands?

A: If I look at the mission of the CBC, it is to protect and to reinforce the political structure of Canada. Does that mean that you can’t do independent journalism? I don’t think so. I think CBC and Radio-Canada are doing a pretty good job. But it’s in the law. It’s in the mission of CBC/Radio-Canada. 

Pierre Karl Péladeau initially said he would not sell his media holdings, but later said he would abide by any ruling issued by the ethics commissioner.

I have full confidence in the Quebec institutions in the national assembly and the ethics commission to make sure that everything is preserved.

Q: But when the PQ brought up this issue with Pierre Arcand, he divested himself of them. He sold off the shares.

A: Yes, but there was no ethics commissioner at the time. Since then a law was passed supported by everyone at the national assembly unanimously. So if they have to change it, they will change it.

Q: You were extremely critical when you were in the House of Commons of Paul Martin when he was the Liberal leader and the prime minister regarding Canada Steamship Line. You accused him of conflict of interest.

A: The conflict was quite different. The company was registered outside of Canada in a tax haven country.

And the law was made by people like Paul Martin themselves, by the Liberals, to make a fiscal arrangement with those tax havens. We said this is not acceptable. As a matter of face, Quebecor has not a single penny in a tax haven.

Q: Do we know everything we need to about Pierre Karl Péladeau’s finances? How much disclosure should there be on his tax affairs?

A: The same thing as for the others. We don’t live in a society where you have a law for everyone but a special law for an individual. The law is the law is the law…Why should we ask more from him than we are for Trudeau?

Why are we so worried about the kind of intervention he could make in the communications sector when the only one I know who did that in politics was Pierre Elliott Trudeau when he said there’s too many separatists in Radio-Canada and we have to change the bulletin news and show Chinese cultures, we’ll do that.

Q: You have to recognize that since the era of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the way media is is so vastly different and here’s a man who has a controlling interest in Vidéotron, the Journal de Montréal, TVA, QMI, Sun News Network… I just get the impression that you’re defending him because he’s on your side.

A: For me, I think it’s quite the opposite. You’re questioning that because he’s a sovereignist. Period. The law is the law is the law. He’s respecting the law.

If the law has to be changed, if the ethics commissioner should have more power, then lets do it.

But I think it was a full silence radio all over Canada when Trudeau made that statement saying he will control the bulletin news. And Trudeau is a hero in Canada on the Federalist side. Nothing was said to denounce that. Curious isn’t it?

Q: What’s your feeling on Silvio Berlusconi?

A: There’s no comparison at all with Berlusconi. The kind of question you are asking is the kind of question a man like Berlusconi would ask someone. By quoting Berlusconi, I think it’s the kind of question a journalist from the National Enquirer would [ask]

What is astonishing now I would say is for the federalist side and the echos on the English newspapers is showing there’s a lot of people nervous in Canada and on the federalist side. This is the reality.