NEWS

Donations to Quebec Liberals spark allegations

05/03/2012 06:23 EDT | Updated 07/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Quebec Premier Jean Charest's Liberals were under fire Thursday over large donations being made to the party.

On the eve of what is considered a potential election call, the Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire are accusing the provincial Liberals of using their power to attract generous donors in exchange for political favours.

On Thursday, PQ critic Stéphane Bergeron pointed to a private Liberal fundraising breakfast in 2009 which raised $60,000 from 20 people in one hour. Bergeron said he believes such events are covert lobbying operations by donors trying to buy a better chance of landing big government contracts.

Quebec Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre, like other Liberal ministers, denied any wrongdoing.

"Everything is legal, and when someone wants to give to our party, it's because they believe in our party," said St-Pierre.

Donations came from specific firms: Quebec Solidaire

Quebec Solidaire said it compiled 30 years of data on political donations, indicating that the Liberals are far and away the most successful fundraisers.

Quebec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir said the lion's share of donations comes from employees of a small group of engineering and legal firms. He argued that those contributions have had some dire consequences.

"(It's) total control of the political agenda by lobbies of the private sector, and we don't want that," said Khadir.

The PQ and Quebec Solidaire are calling for stricter rules governing how much political parties are allowed to collect and spend in election campaigns.

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