Long-time ally of Quebec premier resigns from cabinet amid allegations of workplace bullying

·2 min read
Marie-Eve Proulx, former junior economic development minister, seen here in a 2019 picture. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Marie-Eve Proulx, former junior economic development minister, seen here in a 2019 picture. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Marie-Eve Proulx, a long-time ally of Premier François Legault, has resigned from cabinet amid accusations she was psychologically harassing her staff.

Proulx was the minister responsible for the Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions as well as the junior minister for economic development.

Several employees have left her office in recent months, including her press attaché, who quit Friday. One former staffer filed complaints with Quebec's workplace relations body, the Tribunal administratif du travail, claiming psychological harassment.

Those complaints were settled before a hearing was scheduled to take place. But French-language media outlets have frequently reported about other allegations of a difficult work environment in both Proulx's riding and ministerial offices.

In a statement released Tuesday, Legault's spokesperson said Proulx offered her resignation earlier in the day, which the premier accepted.

Proulx was among the original supporters of the Coalition Avenir Québec when Legault launched the party in 2011. She's seen here in a 2018 photo with Premier François Legault, left, and Legault's wife Isabelle Brais, right.
Proulx was among the original supporters of the Coalition Avenir Québec when Legault launched the party in 2011. She's seen here in a 2018 photo with Premier François Legault, left, and Legault's wife Isabelle Brais, right. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

But many were critical she remained in cabinet as long as she did, despite growing concerns about her behaviour.

At a news conference, Legault said he had been aware of the concerns since last year, and initially offered Proulx the support of a management coach.

"Unfortunately that didn't deliver enough results, and I was forced to come to the conclusion that she couldn't remain as minister," Legault said.

Long-standing complaints

Proulx was among the original supporters of the Coalition Avenir Québec when Legault launched the party in 2011, and their ties reach back to the early 2000s. She will remain in caucus and MNA for the Côte-du-Sud riding, located in the Lower Saint-Lawrence region.

The head of the Opposition Liberals, Dominique Anglade, said it took Legault too long to address the situation in Proulx's office.

"I think it's extremely worrying," Anglade said. "Psychological harassment, no matter the person, whether an MNA or a minister, cannot be tolerated."

Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon also remarked on Legault's patience. "I want to underline that as of February 2020, we all already knew that 12 people had left during the 14 months of Mrs. Proulx's leadership. So we're talking about a recidivist here," he said.

In a Facebook post, Proulx said she was sorry if her actions had hurt anyone. "I am driven, that's true. I am demanding, that's true, especially toward myself," she wrote.