05/07/2015 04:52 EDT | Updated 05/07/2016 05:59 EDT

Quebecor board members distance themselves from PQ leadership hopeful Peladeau

MONTREAL - The shadow of Quebecor Inc.'s controlling shareholder loomed large over the company's annual meeting Thursday despite efforts of board members to distance themselves from the man who will likely become leader of the Parti Quebecois.

Pierre Karl Peladeau, who owns the majority of voting shares in Quebecor (QBR.B), hasn't been involved in the governance of the company for "months and months," said Pierre Dion, president and CEO of the media conglomerate.

Since being elected to the legislature last year, Peladeau and Quebecor have been dogged by conflict-of-interest allegations, while calls for him to divest his shares have increased ever since he launched his bid for the PQ leadership.

"I don't remember the last time I met with Pierre Karl," Dion told reporters after the meeting. "It's been a very long time. Mr. Peladeau is not involved in the day-to-day operations of this organization."

Peladeau maintains he is willing to put his Quebecor shares in a blind trust, but has steadfastly rejected the idea of selling his stake in the company.

Quebec's national assembly is currently studying what to do about Peladeau or any future politician who owns large business assets.

Quebecor chairman Brian Mulroney said Peladeau is sometimes consulted on company matters, but that such an approach is normal.

"We have to consult because he is the controlling shareholder," the former prime minister said. "If the board decided to sell (TV network) TVA or did something else that was dramatic, it would be appropriate that he be consulted because he would vote on it."

Mulroney added: "(Peladeau) has been very good in not interfering at all and that's been my experience for the last year."

Dion also talked about TVA Sports, Quebecor's fledgling all-sports station, which recently lost a CRTC decision to Bell Canada over distribution rates.

"TVA Sports is here to stay," Dion said, repeating it several times because Quebecor initially told the broadcast regulator the outcome of the issue of distribution rates was crucial for the future of TVA Sports.

Quebecor announced Thursday that first-quarter revenues rose 5.7 per cernt to $948.6 million from a year earlier.

Per-share profit fell to $29.4 million, or 24 cents a share, from $39.1 million, or 32 cents a share.