MONTREAL — Yves Michaud, who was denounced more than 12 years ago by the National Assembly for his comments about Jews, is now in trouble with Quebec’s director-general of elections (DGE).
“L’Affaire Michaud”, as the brouhaha over the one-time Liberal MNA turned hard-line separatist’s provocative remarks became known, is not over yet, at least as far as the fiery Michaud, now 82, is concerned.
The DGE fined Michaud $6,264 for illegal electoral expenses during the campaign for the Sept. 4 Quebec election.
Last August, in the middle of the provincial election campaign, Michaud placed an advertisement in the newspaper Le Devoir singling out 13 MNAs, from the Parti Québécois (PQ), Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) and, the largest number, from the Liberal Party, whom he deemed “unworthy” of being re-elected.
The reason Michaud gave is that they were sitting MNAs when the National Assembly unanimously voted on Dec. 14, 2000 to censure him for chiding Jews for claiming that they are the only people to have suffered.
This and his subsequent criticism of Jewish opposition to sovereignty and of B’nai Brith Canada fuelled a heated public debate that culminated in the legislature’s motion and, indirectly, to then-premier Lucien Bouchard’s resignation a month later.
Michaud accused the 13 MNAs of supporting a “defamatory” action against “a citizen” and for not having since apologized. Over the years, 59 PQ MNAs have expressed regret for voting for the motion.
Michaud was a private citizen at the time, although he had tried unsuccessfully for the PQ nomination in a byelection that year. He has made numerous attempts over the years to have the motion revoked, including appealing to the Supreme Court, which in 2006 refused to hear the case.
Among the 13 he listed were then-premier Jean Charest, D’Arcy McGee’s Lawrence Bergman and then-justice minister Jean-Marc Fournier among the Liberals, CAQ leader François Legault (who was a PQ MNA in 2000), and PQ members Nicole Léger and Stéphane Bédard, current president of the Treasury Board and parliamentary leader.
The DGE decided that the ad put these candidates at a disadvantage in the election and, therefore, constituted an electoral expense, which can only be authorized by an official agent.
Michaud, a former journalist and diplomat, said he intends to contest the fine and to sue the DGE for $100,000 for “this attack on freedom of expression and the honour of a citizen.”
Michaud continues to insist that his late-2000 remarks were taken out of context and that he is, in fact, an admirer of the Jewish People.
“I am the godfather of a Jewish boy…I have lived in a Jewish neighbourhood for 50 years. I am more semitic than antisemitic,” he told Radio-Canada.
Meanwhile, Bédard said that a revision of the regulation that allowed the National Assembly to censure an individual without the person having the opportunity to defend himself or herself before that body is being considered.