Party leaders cry foul after CAQ allegation of 'interference' in policing

Coalition Avenir Québec candidate Ian Lafrenière was asked to clarify comments he made about "political interference" he'd experienced while working as a Montreal police officer.

His comments, made in an interview with TVA on Saturday, sparked criticism from the Liberals, Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois.

"I hope he will be able to detail what he said with specific facts, because normally he would have to denounce it if he was witness to that in his career,'' said Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, Sunday.

Lafrenière left his job as a spokesperson for the Montreal police service in order to run for the CAQ in the election.

On Sunday, he walked back his comments, telling reporters that he was referring to meddling by politicians in general.

He said testimony at the the Chamberland commission, which was looking into the police surveillance of journalists, proves his point.

Former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre admitted he called then-police chief Marc Parent after journalist found out Coderre had been issued a ticket for an expired licence plate.

"I'm not about to reveal Watergate or something like that," Lafrenière said, adding he believes there should be a "wall" between politics and police and that he was surprised by the reaction his comments made among the other parties.

He also took the opportunity to re-emphasize the CAQ's proposal that the head of the province's anti-corruption unit, UPAC, should be selected through a two-thirds vote of the legislature.

CAQ Leader François Legault said his plan will ensure neutrality.

"Why [does] the Liberal Party want to choose the UPAC boss alone?''

Currently, the head of UPAC is chosen by cabinet after three candidates are recommended by an independent committee.

Couillard defended the current system, saying it was created based on a recommendation from the Charbonneau commission.​

"It's not up to the legislature to appoint police officers," he said.

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​With files from The Canadian Press