Pierre Karl Peladeau's new position within the PQ could bring a new set of possible conflict of interest issues, say a number of experts in ethics and governance.
Last Friday, Peladeau was named party critic for the economy, entrepreneurship, small and medium-sized business, and export.
Penny Collenette says this is a tough situation because the Parti Quebecois clearly wanted to take advantage of his knowledge and experience, but the move has a downside, says the adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa who has written extensively on ethics.
Peladeau may encounter files that could have a direct impact on his own business interests. "How does he address public policy initiatives that may be put forward by the government if in fact he knows that it's something that could hurt his company?"
Collenette, who once worked for the prime minister's office under Jean Chrétien, says the Liberals could also exploit Peladeau's situation. "He is open to any allegation from the government that 'oh, of course you would be opposed to this because it would hurt the interests of Quebecor'."
Collenette says Peladeau would be wise to remain aware of any possible conflicts of interest in his files.
"Oh, they have to think about that for sure," agrees Denis Saint-Martin, a political scientist at the University of Montreal who has published on matters of ethics and governance. He says the Parti Quebecois has to keep these matters in mind in order to maintain its own credibility.
No report from the ethics commissioner
The PQ maintains that Pierre Karl Peladeau will submit to the findings of the ethics commissioner, who will meet with all of Quebec's MNAs, including Peladeau.
However, commissioner Jacques Saint-Laurent says his findings or requirements will not be released to the public.
He will also not say whether he intends to instruct Peladeau on how to handle possible conflicts of interest as an economy critic, or on any other matter.
He will not say whether he will consider the situation of Quebecor political reporters who will cover their company's major shareholder, or explore whether Peladeau's intention to put his shares in a blind trust, with instructions not to sell Quebecor shares, is sufficient.
But, the commissioner says when a summary of an MNAs' holdings are published, it should be seen as a confirmation that the commissioner is satisfied with the file. "There will not be a written text that says 'I met with Jacques, the MNA, and I asked him to make such-and-such and adjustment'."
Saint-Laurent says he does not want to appear to comment on any issues, since he also conducts formal investigations and produces binding decisions.