The Liberal government has tabled a motion in the legislature asking the centre for media studies at Universite Laval to look into the "influential effects" on democracy of a politician who also controls a media empire.
While Peladeau's name was not specifically mentioned in the motion, it clearly targets the Parti Quebecois leadership candidate, whose Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) owns newspapers, a TV network, a cable company and many other interests.
Peladeau, who is considered the front-runner in the PQ race, has rejected calls to sell his shares in the company founded by his father, but says he is willing to place them in a blind trust.
Jean-Marc Fournier, the minister responsible for democratic reform, said Wednesday he hopes the media studies centre accepts the government's offer.
Fournier added that giving a "credible" institution the mandate to study the issue ensures the government "is acting with caution" and receives analysis that is the "most scientific possible."
The centre's Daniel Giroux said his board "still has to decide if this is something that interests us" and will begin considering the offer Thursday.
He wouldn't give details about the mandate the government gave his centre because "it's too delicate to discuss (publicly)."
The PQ, which is the official Opposition, rejected the Liberal motion, arguing it directly targets one of its members.
If the media centre accepts the government's offer, its final report will be due at the end of May, around the time the PQ leader is selected.
One political scientist said that even if Peladeau has offered to put his shares in a trust, "there will be nothing blind" about it.
"Peladeau will always know he owns Quebecor," said Concordia University's Bruce Hicks, referring to any political votes or discussions related to the company.
Hicks said Peladeau, aside from putting his shares into a blind trust, should be required to leave the room when the PQ caucus is debating topics that affect Quebecor — be it communications, culture, printing or transportation.
Politicians are wrongly focusing on the question of whether or not a politician should own a media company, Hicks said.
Instead, they should be debating whether the potential leader of the main opposition should be required to be absent from so many important political discussions.Suggest a correction