News broke yesterday that Pierre Karl Peladeau has been lobbying the Quebec government on behalf of Quebecor, the company he kinda-sorta has a majority stake in. Whoops. While this is clearly a conflict of interest (he’s a sitting MLA advocating for his own company to receive special privileges from the government, without mentioning that it’s his own company), any alleged corruption charges can be forgiven if there’s was a good reason for being corrupt. PKP’s reason is a doozy.
You see, Mel’s Studio, a production company that has worked on a variety of films and TV shows (the latest X-Men, for example), is for sale. Naturally, there is more than one player looking to buy, in this case, PKP’s Quebecor, and a US company called Clearlake Capital. Imagine that you’re in this scenario: you want to buy Mel’s, but so does some other competitor. What do you do? Well, you, upstanding Canadian citizen, would probably lobby the company in question, especially if you had “known the owners and directors of Mel’s Studio for years.” PKP? He lobbied the government, specially Investment Quebec, claiming that foreign ownership would destroy Quebecois society, and that only a Quebec company (in fact, the one you own!) is suitable. How heroic.
Let’s check Article 16 of the National Assembly’s code of ethics just to check how wrong he was here.
16. When carrying out the duties of office, a Member must not […] use the position of Member to influence or attempt to influence another person’s decision so as to further the Member’s private interests
Okay, so he clearly has no idea what he’s doing. Thankfully, this is only the 2nd or 3rd most offensive thing he’s done in the past two weeks, so this is no big deal. To refresh your memory, on Wednesday, he announced that he’s thinking of running for leader of the PQ, and if he won, he would put his Quebecor shares in a blind trust. That means, despite a CAQ motion to try to force him to stop influencing the decisions of Quebec’s largest media company, he’s still only thinking about it.
But, his best move came last week when he compared the Canadian constitution to communism in East Germany. I don’t know what that means either, but it certainly ruffled the feathers of everyone sensible. It’s Yalta all over again.
Now, yesterdays bombshell revelation came on the heels of an announcement of a $316 million sale of 175 papers (including those under the Sun News banner) to Postmedia. Quebecor’s sale might seem to the uninitiated as some kind of concession, or downsizing. Au contraire, they’re just getting together some cash for a potentially dubious acquisition. Shouldn’t all corporate CEOs make personal appeals to bureaucrats to ensure their business dealings succeed? Otherwise, we may start getting the idea that whim isn’t everything. Thankfully, Pierre Karl Peladeau is here to ensure the process is as shady as possible.