Quebec-Ottawa relations: Minister Sonia LeBel deleted her text messages

Text messages were the preferred means of communication between the two ministers at the center of Québec-Ottawa relations. They communicate via texttestified the press secretary of the federal minister.

Some official letters

Last year, there was only one official letter from the Minister on the subject of federal health transfer, and no letter on the subject of the return of cultural powers, a declaration of income or the transfer of a point in taxes.

During a study of her ministry credits, on April 27, Sonia LeBel also could not say whether she wrote an official letter to her counterpart on immigration, a major government issue.

We can also work via textexplained the minister, asked the next day by Parti québécois spokesperson for Québec-Ottawa relations, Véronique Hivon.

We are in constant communication with important files. »

An excerpt from Sonia LeBel, Quebec Minister responsible for Canadian Relations, April 28, 2022

Following this statement to the National Assembly, we sent an access request to government information to retrieve these text messages from the past four years, unique written traces of relations between the federal government and provinces, which we sometimes call storms.

Dominic LeBlanc, sits next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault, during the First Ministers ’Meeting in December 2018.

Photo: The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson

After verification, the Quebec Secretariat for Canadian Relations responded that it was does not hold corresponding documents at our request.

Even if the targeted message exchange occurs, it is not stored or archived. »

An excerpt from Hélène Trottier, Director of the Office of the Associate Secretary General, Quebec Secretariat for Canadian Relations

The Minister does not systematically store all his text messagesexplanation to press officer Sonia LeBel.

Absolutely patheticreaction to the Parti Québécois

Not only is there no longer formalism in real public requests, real letters, but moreover, there is no even the existence of text messages that are important and essential to keep them.reaction by PQ MP Véronique Hivon.

He said, that said a lot about the incompetence of the Legault government and about the mirage it gave Quebecers a glimpse for federation changes, […] while he cannot make a profit.

Hivon looking at the camera.

Véronique Hivon, PQ spokeswoman for Quebec-Ottawa relations.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Even the text messages were deleted because they lacked very important content, revealing the Legault government’s lack of depth in its claims; or they would be embarrassing, because this was the end of unacceptability for the Quebec government. »

An excerpt from Véronique Hivon, Member of the Parti Québécois

Other texts had to be preserved, said the former minister

Professor of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa Benoît Pelletier judges wondersand not dramatic deleted text messages.

This former Quebec Minister of Intergovernmental Relations from 2003 to 2008, in Jean Charest’s Liberal government, did not believe that Sonia LeBel should keep all these letters. But it carries a downside.

The most strategic text messages, if any, should be stored, of course. »

An excerpt from Benoît Pelletier, former Quebec Minister of Intergovernmental Relations, from 2003 to 2008, and professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa
Interviewed by Mr.  Pelletier of the CBC.

Benoit Pelletier.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Benoît Pelletier lamented that the official letters were not prioritized by the minister: In a letter, you can do your project, you can do your request … Through meetings and through letters the files go on.

Like Véronique Hivon of the PQ, the former Liberal minister thinks it all shows thatthere is a lack of relationship or shallow relationship between the two levels of government.

He noticed a cooling relations between Quebec and Ottawa, with several files in Quebec that have not progressed, which have not been unblocked.

At the National Assembly, at the end of April, Minister LeBel defended himself not to get results. In particular, he cited the labor market agreements signed and the $ 6 billion raised as compensation for the daycare network.

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