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Machines for revealing secrets

Everyone remembers the candidate of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) in the riding of Rimouski, in 2014, whose photos accessible on Facebook showed him sitting naked on a toilet or in positions of a sexual nature.

I think that candidate still remembers it!, laughs the director general of the CAQ, Brigitte Legault. In 2014, on the other hand, the CAQ laughed less. Three weeks before the vote, the leader had wasted precious time justifying this youthful mistake.

François Legault then said that the CAQ was wrong redo the past of its candidates. Eight years later, this statement is no longer true: the CAQ has moved up a gear when it comes to verifying its applications.

We got refined. We have more people checking. Social media has also evolved. Maybe that case wouldn’t happen again. »

A quote from Brigitte Legault, Executive Director of the Coalition avenir Québec

Brigitte Legault, Executive Director of the Coalition avenir Québec

Photo: Radio-Canada / Alexandre DUVAL

We can’t turn corners

To be a candidate for the CAQ, three forms must first be completed. Everything must be declared: criminal history, tenant history, employee history, etc. All of this is analyzed by the party’s candidacy secretariat, made up of research experts and lawyers.

Sometimes this leads to funny situations. 2012 qui avait affirmé avoir payé des gens au noir, dans nos formulaires, raconte Brigitte Legault. Il était assez honnête pour le spécifier par exemple. C’est sûr qu’il a été rejeté et il a compris pourquoi!”,”text”:”On a déjà eu un candidat en2012 qui avait affirmé avoir payé des gens au noir, dans nos formulaires, raconte Brigitte Legault. Il était assez honnête pour le spécifier par exemple. C’est sûr qu’il a été rejeté et il a compris pourquoi!”}}”>We already had a candidate in 2012 who claimed to have paid people on the black, in our forms, says Brigitte Legault. He was honest enough to specify it for example. It is sure that he was rejected and he understood why!

All of the candidates’ social networks are also scrutinized, which is more and more laborious. Because with each election that passes, the number of years to scrutinize Facebook increases, recalls Ms. Legault.

It’s still almost full time because you can’t cheat. You can’t turn corners. »

A quote from Brigitte Legault, Executive Director of the Coalition avenir Québec

These checks can take up to a week for a single application. If a person passes this stage successfully, they must then undergo an interview which serves, among other things, to cross-check their declarations.

We had no power

The CAQ is not the only political party to have tightened its ways. As recently as the 2018 election, the Parti Québécois (QP) did not yet have an internal structure to prevent a controversial candidate from running.

Even if checks were carried out, a person who wanted to be a candidate ran for nomination [dans une circonscription]and if she won the nomination, she was a candidatesums up Jocelyn Caron, president of the national executive board of the QP.

It happened that there were antecedents that we knew and […] we had no power over that question. »

A quote from Jocelyn Caron, President of the National Executive Council of the Parti Québécois

Jocelyn Caron, President of the National Executive Council of the Parti Québécois

Photo: Parti Québécois

To avoid repeating this situation, the QP therefore reviewed its internal structures in 2019 and set up a nominations committee. It is currently being called upon for the first time, in view of the elections this fall.

Composed of six members, this commission has 45 days to check the background and social networks of potential candidates and whether or not to grant them the right to stand for nomination.

The commission is looking for any element that could embarrass the party or who could wasting campaign dayssays Mr. Caron.

The memory of Muguette Paillé, for example, with her controversial remarks on Islam which forced her to withdraw her candidacy in 2018, is not far in the memory of the PQ.

It’s not fair to stop yourself from firing candidates in the middle of the campaign. It is also to know what is going to happen and to be able to react at that moment. »

A quote from Jocelyn Caron, President of the National Executive Council of the Parti Québécois

The other political parties also have similar structures. To the Liberal Party of Quebec (QLP), it is called the green light committeemade up of activists, former party employees, former ministers and deputies.

We’ve been using it for several yearsunderlines the chief organizer of the QLPJean-François Helms, who says he has very confident in this selection process.

At Québec solidaire (QS), the validation of candidacies is the responsibility of the general secretariat of the party. The process is similar to that of other political formations: submission of a CV, form to be completed, background and social network checks, etc.

Once that’s done, it’s really the local nomination process that gets underwayindicates the secretary general of QSNicolas Chatel-Launay.

As soon as we have something serious, even if the application has not been formally submitted, we will meet the candidate and act preventively. »

A quote from Nicolas Chatel-Launay, General Secretary of Québec solidaire

Nicolas Chatel-Launay, General Secretary of Québec solidaire

Photo: Radio-Canada / Quebec solidaire

This is what happened recently in the riding of Taschereau. Activists have traced old writings deemed masculinist by aspiring candidate Julien Cardinal. The party prevented him from running for the nomination.

QS is, however, the only party that allows rejected candidates to make a formal complaint.

Within the party, we have a dispute resolution procedure and an ethics committee. Any type of complaint could be filed and heard there. Of course, this is a confidential processexplains Mr. Chatel-Launay.

The growth challenge

It may be the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) that there are the most questions. Since the arrival of the new leader, Éric Duhaime, the number of members has increased from around 500 to more than 57,000.

Even today, the leader has the power to impose a candidate in each of the 125 ridings, but with the growth of his party, Éric Duhaime wants democratize the candidate selection process.

There is no one way to become a Conservative Party candidate, but let’s just say that we are slowly but surely implementing a slightly more democratic system for selecting our candidates. »

A quote from Éric Duhaime, leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec

Éric Duhaime, leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec

Photo: Radio-Canada

If there is not yet one one-size-fits-all“,”text”:”one-size-fits-all”}}”>one-size-fits-allas the chef says, is that the PCQ has not yet had time to adjust its statutes and regulations.

But roughly speaking, each local association must set up a candidate selection committee. This committee then recommends potential candidates to another committee, national this time, on which Éric Duhaime sits directly.

In the interview, people are asked, “Do you have skeletons?”, in good Quebecois terms, and most people […] will reveal to us all kinds of affairs, even sometimes far too many, including things that we have no business to knowhe said.

Criminal background checks are also done, as is a tour of social networks, but Mr. Duhaime is aware that the safety net of the PCQ is not yet as developed as that of the other parties.

It’s clear that parties like us, which have far fewer resources coming from the government and which have fewer people who are busy doing this kind of thing, to scrutinize all the candidates, we are more at risk.

New sensitivities

Beyond the mechanics specific to each party, themes that have recently imposed themselves in the news have also changed the situation in terms of the choice of candidates.

Harassment issues, for example, prompted the QLP to do much more thorough checks on the mental health and labor relations of their candidates in view of the October 3 election.

We make sure that all our candidates, throughout their professional journey, their personal journey, their journey as a volunteer, have always been able to promote psychological well-being. […] that they have always been respectful of their colleaguessays Jean-François Helms.

We ask for contacts, coordinates of former employers, former colleagues, references. »

A quote from Jean-François Helms, chief organizer of the Quebec Liberal Party

Jean-François Helms, chief organizer of the Quebec Liberal Party

Photo: Screenshot / Teams

On the issue of abortion too, which has come back to the fore in the United States, the QLP announced that it would not accept any pro-life candidates, as did the CAQ, QS and the QP.

the PCQ, officially pro-choice, however accepted a candidate opposed to abortion. Éric Duhaime defended this choice by saying that people have the right to hold personal beliefs.

Vaccination required

Regarding COVID-19, the PCQ also goes it alone by not requiring its candidates to be adequately vaccinated.

Conversely, at QLP, it’s an end of inadmissibility if there is someone who does not respect the health rulessays Jean-François Helms. QS made the same choice.

We ask candidates to confirm that they are vaccinated because we want to protect our teams, we want to protect citizens. »

A quote from Nicolas Chatel-Launay, General Secretary of Québec solidaire

the QP gives himself a little leeway: a person who is not adequately vaccinated could be a candidate, but only if the party deems the explanations valid.

This vaccination requirement has its limits, however, since the parties ask their potential candidates to declare their status, without providing proof. To the CAQtwo doses are considered sufficient.

” No risk does not exist “

Despite all these checks, No risk does not existadmits Brigitte Legault, of the CAQ. While this process serves to protect the party, it’s also a way to prevent a well-meaning candidate’s life from getting out of hand, she says.

Of course we’re going too far, but that’s the news we live in! They are scrutinized, they are looked at, everything can become something that is interpreted. »

A quote from Brigitte Legault, Executive Director of the Coalition avenir Québec

Besides, the CAQ has no tolerance for criminal history. A shoplifting committed 20 years ago would constitute an end of inadmissibility, illustrates Ms. Legault.

Conversely, the QP is ready to accept candidates who would have progressed after committing an offence. We are a party that believes in rehabilitationsays Jocelyn Caron.

We’re not going to bar anyone who’s had any offense or run-in with the law in the past. It’s also a question of the person’s attitude towards it.

As to QLPat QS and at PCQall indicate that when it comes to backgrounds, they do case by case.

dealbreaker, ce serait si un candidat m’a menti, précise Éric Duhaime. Par exemple s’il me dit “non, je n’ai jamais rien eu”, et là, je trouve quelque chose, c’est sûr que la confiance vient d’être rompue.”,”text”:”Le dealbreaker, ce serait si un candidat m’a menti, précise Éric Duhaime. Par exemple s’il me dit “non, je n’ai jamais rien eu”, et là, je trouve quelque chose, c’est sûr que la confiance vient d’être rompue.”}}”>the dealbreaker, it would be if a candidate lied to me, specifies Éric Duhaime. For example, if he says to me “no, I never had anything”, and there, I find something, it is sure that the trust has just been broken.

Brigitte Legault notes, however, that candidates are generally aware of the risks to which they are exposed. And they gladly accept the intrusion that political parties make into their private life.

People who take the audacity to send us their CV, I salute them. I hope there will be moreshe says.

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