Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) has asked the deputy minister of public security to call a police investigation into allegations that two Liberal MNAs were investigated for an illegal political fundraising scheme in 2012, but a decision to charge them "was somehow blocked at the highest level."
The head of Montreal's police union, Yves Francoeur, dropped that bombshell in an interview on 98.5 FM last week.
Francoeur said one former and one sitting Liberal MNA had been enmeshed in an illegal fundraising scheme involving a real-estate company with ties to organized crime.
He said the Crown was blocked from pressing charges, saying two representatives of the "judicial system" told him "if they weren't two elected Liberals, the charges would have proceeded to court."
Need more information, DPCP says
In a statement released Tuesday, the DPCP said "in spite of the gravity of those allegations," Francoeur hasn't shared his concerns with the Crown nor with the province's anti-corruption squad, UPAC.
The statement said the DPCP has tried to verify what Francoeur said, with little information to go on.
Francoeur claimed police had gathered enough evidence from electronic surveillance and other investigative techniques for the Crown to proceed with charges, but they were never laid.
The potential charges could have included fraud, influence peddling and modifying legislation in exchange for contributions to the Quebec Liberal Party, he said.
When the story broke last week, both the DPCP and Liberal Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée encouraged Francoeur to share any information he had with the Crown and with UPAC.
The DPCP said Tuesday that Francoeur has yet to do so, but the Montreal police union said Francoeur has been in contact with UPAC.
Tensions rise in justice committee
The request for a criminal investigation comes as DPCP director Annick Murphy faces the National Assembly's justice committee to answer questions about the union leader's allegations.
Those hearings have seen tense exchanges between Murphy and Parti Québécois justice critic Véronique Hivon.
Hivon has asked repeatedly that the DPCP consult its registry of wiretaps in order to determine which Liberal MNAs had been under investigation, but Murphy has maintained that to do so, she needs more specific details.
On Tuesday, Hivon welcomed Murphy's request for a police investigation, suggesting it contradicted claims by Liberal Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée that Francoeur lacked credibility.
"[The DPCP] clearly attributes enough credibility to him to order a criminal investigation," Hivon said.
She said she was surprised by Vallée's contention that the opposition was undermining the Crown's integrity by questioning its independence.
"We're just doing our job to respect and protect our institutions, to ask the questions that the public wants answered," Hivon said.
"In a democracy, these kind of questions have to be asked when such serious allegations are made."
Last week, Murphy fired back at Francoeur and members of the opposition.
"I deplore the statements in the media by certain people, by certain politicians, that insinuate, that the analysis and direction of certain files by prosecutors may be influenced or dictated by partisan political considerations," the DPCP said at that time.