André Boisclair, former Parti Québécois leader and sex offender, granted parole

MONTREAL — Former Parti Québécois leader André Boisclair, who pleaded guilty in June to sexually assaulting two young men, has been granted parole.

In a decision rendered Tuesday, the provincial parole board, the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles, concluded that releasing Boisclair would not compromise public safety.

"The commission believes that release at this stage of your sentence, with followups, conditions, and supervision, remains, in the long run, an appropriate measure to ensure the protection of the public, while promoting successful reintegration," it wrote.

Boisclair, 56, has served roughly one-third of his sentence of two years less a day in jail.

It was the second time Boisclair had sought parole. A previous application was denied in November because of what the parole board saw as Boisclair's “arrogant attitude” and his refusal to take part in a therapy program.

The board wrote this week that it believes the November denial has led to a change in Boisclair's thinking.

“The commission notes that your detention is proceeding properly since the refusal, that your attitude has improved. The judicial and correctional processes appear to have had the intended impacts,” the decision reads.

The board also noted that Boisclair has taken steps to deal with alcohol and drug consumption problems and mental health issues, and he has seen a sexologist — factors that it believes lower the risk he will reoffend.

Boisclair will face a number of conditions, including requirements that he undergo therapy and attend support group meetings for drug or alcohol addiction. He is also banned from consuming alcohol or drugs and from contacting his victims during his parole.

The former politician, who was ordered to register as a sex offender for life, will remain on probation for two years after the end of his sentence.

Boisclair pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two men who were in their early 20s at his Montreal apartment. The assaults took place in 2014 and 2015.

He was first elected to the provincial legislature at age 23, rising to become a cabinet minister and then PQ leader between 2005 and 2007, when the party was in opposition. He was later Quebec's delegate general in New York from 2012 to 2013 and was president of the Urban Development Institute of Quebec from 2016 until his arrest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2023.

Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press