The DGEQ denies having wanted to exclude documents requested by the deputies in connection with the 1995 referendum campaign. And it asks to meet the elected officials to make them aware of the difficulties it says it faces in responding to their request.
In a motion adopted by the National Assembly, elected officials asked the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec, Jean-François Blanchet, to lift the veil on the documents of the Grenier Commission, which had investigated allegations related to expenses of the No camp during the 1995 referendum.
The DGEQ responded in writing to MPs last week and its letter was made public on Tuesday.
First, the DGEQ maintains that “the evidence we hold remains confidential without time limit, unless it is presented in court during a trial.”
He asserts that the investigation which was entrusted to retired judge Bernard Grenier “was not a public commission of inquiry like the Charbonneau commission, for example”.
“The Chief Electoral Officer does not have the power to hold a public inquiry. Investigator Grenier acted with the same powers as all our investigators,” he adds.
As a result, he says he is in a difficult situation, which he wishes to better explain to elected officials.
“We are thus facing an impasse which leads me to request a meeting with parliamentarians in order to present in more detail all of the issues that concern me, all from a perspective of collaboration,” he wrote.
He adds that under jurisprudence, even an order from the National Assembly does not immunize the DGEQ against possible prosecution.
Sorting is not discarding
He also denies having wanted to exclude documents targeted by the elected officials’ request, although his initial response, transmitted through the media, referred to the fact that he had to first “sort through” the requested documents.
The Parti Québécois, among others, which was in power at the time of the 1995 referendum, was indignant to hear the DGEQ office affirm that it must first sort out the requested documents.
“Over the past few weeks, we have carried out a review, summary classification and evaluation of all the thousands of documents in our possession. There was never any question of excluding documents covered by the request of elected officials,” assures the DGEQ in its reply.
The DGEQ did not want to comment further, “out of respect for the elected representatives of the National Assembly”.