The government refused to allow one of its employees to play a partisan role for the Parti Québécois and threatened to fire him. Paul St-Pierre Plamonton suspects a “political intervention” and worries about the freedom of expression of civil servants.
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The Ministry of Economy and Energy has been suspended without pay since February 23, as its staff member, Stephen Foging, was appointed department spokesman for the PQ for diversity, metropolitan and transport earlier in the year. Since then, to avoid any conflict of interest, the civil servant has only kept files related to diversity and citizenship that have nothing to do with his work. Remember that the Minister of Economy and Energy is also responsible for the metropolis.
Industrial Development Adviser for Space Department in Pierre Fitzgibbon’s Ministry, Mr. Fockeying had received favorable feedback from his superiors before accepting this volunteer position. He dedicates himself outside of his working hours.
“It’s been almost a month since I was victimized and suspended without pay with serious threats of dismissal if I don’t agree to give up my basic rights, my freedom of expression and political interference. […] Even if it is something provided by law,” says the official who was the PQ candidate in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in the last election.
Neither the Department nor Minister Fitzgibbon’s office provided him with legal arguments that would have allowed him to terminate his employment with the public service. A silence, an “omerta” that frightens the leader of the PQ so badly.
“It looks like a political intervention because it targets the ability of the PQ in its powers to ensure that members of the public service comply with the rules,” he underlines.
The PSPP insists that the CAQ has no problem with political interference in state institutions and the operation of many Quebec institutions. “Especially Pierre Fitzgibbon, he’s not shy at that level,” insists the PQ player.
Rights of Government Servants
The Sovereign Head is worried about the consequences of this government stance against the rights of public sector employees. He recalled that the law allows civil servants to be members of a political party, attend a political meeting, contribute to a political party or be a candidate in an election. After the electoral defeat, they have been reinstated. PQ has also obtained a legal opinion on the situation of Stephane Fogang.
“If we force all civil servants to remain silent from now on, either at the behest of senior civil servants or at the behest of Mr. Fitzgibbon’s office, we will have very important, far-reaching problems at the level of democracy.”
No one likes to see politics relegated to lawyers or business leaders, and Stephen Focaing, doesn’t want to bow to his boss. He feels the cause is bigger than his “little self”.
“I want to assert my right to be involved in politics and to respect the laws and regulations and do it well. For me, we should respect political involvement, especially at a time when we see that it is not enough. People are involved in politics, he says. I have no intention of lying about it.”
Pierre Fitzgibbon’s cabinet said Stephen Fogaing’s suspension would come under the “management of the ministry”. At the time of writing these lines, MEIE has not responded to questions from our Parliamentary Bureau.
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