The PQ's position today was that Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard should have paid taxes to the Quebec government while he was practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.
The party weighed in on the debate over an offshore account Couillard had in the Channel Islands during his time abroad; he deposited over $600,000 to that account.
The PQ minister responsible for democratic institutions, Bernard Drainville, said it may not have been illegal, but it was morally and ethically wrong of Couillard to put his money in a jurisdiction known for being a tax haven, and just as wrong not to pay taxes to Quebec during that time. Drainville argued he paid taxes to Quebec when he worked abroad, though he couldn't remember which country he was in at the time (he was a correspondent for Radio-Canada in Mexico from 2001-2003).
"It would have been the right thing to do to pay taxes here in Quebec," Drainville told reporters.
"It is because it's Quebec taxpayers who paid for his training and I think it would have been the correct thing to do to give a little bit back to Quebec society during these four years where he made presumably a lot of money. He made a lot of money in Saudi Arabia. He could have taken a part of this money and give it back to the Quebec purse," Drainville said.
"Why did he make the decision not to pay taxes to Quebec? Why did he make a decision to put money into a tax haven?"
Drainville said he also wants to know how much money Couillard made at the time and how much tax he ended up avoiding. He said Couillard's actions regarding the tax haven show he's not worthy of being Premier and doesn't have the credibility to fight tax evasion, since he profited from it himself.
Earlier in the day, the CAQ and Québec Solidaire also condemned Couillard's actions. CAQ candidates said it showed a flagrant lack of ethics. Québec Solidaire spokespeople said, morally, it wasn't the right thing to do.
CJAD 800 consulted tax specialist Ernie Furt, partner at accounting firm Fuller Landau, who said that if Couillard declared himself a non-resident of Canada, there's no reason why he would have paid income taxes to his native province. Couillard did pay taxes on assets he brought back to Canada upon his return and a Liberal party spokesperson told CJAD 800 that "he had the status of non-resident" with Canadian tax authorities.
"If he's a non-resident of Canada, there would be no red flag because the employment income was earned outside of Canada," Furt said. "Effectively, it would have been a charitable contribution to the coffers of Quebec. I don't think anybody has that high a moral ground in order to pay taxes in a jurisdiction they're not required to pay taxes in."
Peppered with questions from journalists, the PQ Charter of Values author ends his press conference (audio below) by saying, in frustration, "oh please, Lord!"
Listen to Drainville's unedited comments on Couillard: