Montreal

Sam Hamad, target of ethics probe, resigns from cabinet

Veteran Liberal politician Sam Hamad has stepped down from his cabinet post in Philippe Couillard's government, but he will stay on as an MNA.

Hamad temporarily stepped aside as Treasury Board president after conflict-of-interest allegations

Sam Hamad steps down from cabinet, but says he's done nothing wrong

7 years ago
Duration 0:23
Veteran Liberal politician Sam Hamad has stepped down from his cabinet post in Philippe Couillard's government, but will stay on as an MNA.

Veteran Liberal politician Sam Hamad resigned Thursday from his cabinet post in Philippe Couillard's government, but will stay on as an MNA. 

Hamad has been the target of criticism since Radio-Canada's Enquête reported last week that his relationship with a disgraced former fundraiser, Marc-Yvan Côté, placed him in a conflict of interest.

Hamad insisted he had done nothing wrong and said he feels unjustly targeted. However, he decided to step aside just the same – giving up for the time being his limousine, chauffeur and body guard, along with the $68,000 salary bonus that came with his cabinet position.

Libearal MNA Sam Hamad smiles as he stands in the legislature after stepping down from cabinet, Thursday, April 7, 2016 at the legislature in Quebec City. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, right, looks on, after shaking hands with Hamad. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
"I was hoping the situation would not become a distraction for the actions of government and the premier.  I have to admit that I have become one," Hamad told reporters on Thursday in Quebec City.

"So this morning I met with the premier and will sit solely as an MNA with no other privilege."

Last Saturday, Couillard announced that Hamad had temporarily stepped aside from his post as Treasury Board president.

Hamad drew further criticism for then flying to Florida to "refuel," while still retaining the privileges associated with his cabinet post.

The Quebec ethics commissioner is investigating the allegations that surfaced in the Radio-Canada report.  Couillard has said Hamad won't play a role in government until the ethics probe is complete.

Hamad has been a fixture in the Quebec Liberal Party for more than a decade. He was first appointed to cabinet in 2003, under former premier Jean Charest. 

Blow to Couillard government

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Couillard called Hamad's decision to resign "courageous."

"He made the right decision," the premier said.

Hamad's resignation represents another blow to the Couillard government, which has been haunted by allegations of corruption highlighted in the Charbonneau commission.

Last month, another key figure from the Charest era, former deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau, was arrested and is facing charges of conspiracy, corruption, breach of trust and bribery in connection with her political activities between 2000 and 2012. 

Normandeau's lawyer indicated she will plead not guilty.​

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