Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette says he didn’t break any rules in naming a friend of his as a Quebec court judge.
Speaking to reporters Saturday at the first of a two-day Coalition Avenir Québec policy convention in Sherbrooke, Que., Jolin-Barrette said he respected “all the rules” when he named his longtime friend Charles-Olivier Gosselin to the bench last week.
Jolin-Barrette said his friendship with Gosselin was no secret and insists that it did not influence the nomination process earlier this month.
He said Gosselin was the best candidate and he was selected based on his competence after an independent committee recommended him and two other people.
Despite this, Jolin-Barrette did not warn Premier François Legault or the cabinet that he was about to appoint a close friend.
Opposition parties have raised questions about the nomination process and the Liberal Party is demanding an inquiry.
Finance minister says he too appointed friend
Following the news Saturday, Finance Minister Eric Girard spoke out, saying he too appointed a friend.
Last week, Girard reappointed his “personal friend” Jean-François Blais to the board of directors of Loto-Québec, where he was first appointed by the minister in 2019.
The men have known each other since high school.
Unlike Jolin-Barrette, however, Girard warned Legault about his friendship.
“I certainly said that this person, I knew him,” said Girard, defending himself from accusations of conflicts of interest by praising the competence of his friend.
“He is someone with exceptional skills,” he said.
Defending Jolin-Barrette, Girard said the process for appointing judges was “very different” from the process of appointing board members of Crown corporations.