Revenu Québec intends to tighten the ethical rules imposed on its key employees when they leave to work in the private sector, explains the CEO of the agency. But for the opposition, the measures she mentions represent “the minimum”.
The head of the tax authorities, Christyne Tremblay, spoke about the changes to come on Tuesday during the study of budgetary appropriations, accompanied by the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard.
“We are talking, for example, about our people who work in aggressive tax planning, she explained. We could have statements for them that would be more substantial. The lawyers and accountants who work on this team try to detect elaborate schemes that help millionaires pay as little tax as possible.
The CEO and the minister were responding to a question from MP Frédéric Beauchemin mentioning a La Presse report published in February. The investigation1 focused on Mathieu Gendron, a lawyer who left the aggressive planning department in October, before joining the BCF firm and taking a mandate for the former CEO of Gildan Sportswear Greg Chamandy, to whom Revenu Quebec claims more than 10 million.
The tax expert is on his second round trip between private and public. He was already working for the controversial millionaire until 2014 at the firm Heenan Blaikie, then in 2016 during the eight months he spent at Deloitte.
“I’m surprised that such a thing is possible. But we have to believe that we should not be surprised by many things today, “said the judge in charge of the trial, Daniel Bourgeois, on learning about Mathieu Gendron’s career on February 6.
The CEO of Revenu Québec wants to put in place a “more elaborate follow-up” of civil servants who leave the tax department “to add a little robustness, especially in these strategic jobs where we see more mobility between the agency and the private sector”.
La Presse wanted to know more clearly how it intends to carry out these intentions, but Revenu Québec refused our request for an interview with the CEO.
The communications department has a policy of never granting a telephone interview and did not offer further details by email.
“It is premature at this stage to discuss the details of the modifications and improvements envisaged since the work is still in progress and these modifications will be submitted to the board of directors of Revenu Québec before they are applicable”, writes the holder. -words by Claude-Olivier Fagnant.
The next board meeting of the agency should take place in June.
Official opposition finance critic Frédéric Beauchemin considers that Revenu Québec is only committing to the “minimum” for the moment. “In my head, she leaves the door open for there to be more conversations about it,” he said. We’ll give the runner a chance. »
For one year, a lawyer who works for Ottawa must obtain approval before “intervening on behalf of another person with a department or agency with which he has had official dealings”.
By applying these criteria, Mathieu Gendron would have needed permission to work on any litigation against his former employer, the tax authorities.
In studying budgetary appropriations, Christyne Tremblay suggested that the Quebec rules were “superior to the federal public service”, since they do not contain any deadlines. “There is no time limit,” she said. The restrictions written into the code of ethics would not only last for a year, but would be eternal.
In other words, under this code, if Mathieu Gendron was not working on the Chamandy tax file, nothing prevents him today from helping the millionaire to fight against his former colleagues.
According to Liberal MP Frédéric Beauchemin, an employment restriction must in any case contain a time limit to be valid.
“They can’t ban something ‘for the rest of your career,'” he said. With a clause like that, you go to see a lawyer and a judge, and it’s automatically overturned. »
Mathieu Gendron’s firm, Heenan Blaikie, is dissolved. Mr. Gendron joins Revenu Québec. He therefore ceases to represent the former CEO of Gildan, Greg Chamandy.
Mathieu Gendron leaves the tax department for a short foray of eight months at Deloitte, where he reconnects with Chamandy, before returning to Revenu Québec.
The lawyer leaves the tax office again to join the BCF firm and advise Chamandy in his litigation of more than 10 million against his former colleagues.