Former Quebec lieutenant-governor facing charges

Rhéal Seguin
Globe and Mail Update
Last updated on Friday, Sep. 25, 2009 08:48PM EDT

Quebec’s former lieutenant-governor Lise Thibault is facing criminal charges involving fraud, breach of trust, forgery and fabrication of false documents related to the misspending of public funds during her ten years in office.

Quebec Court judge Pierre Verdon ruled Friday that there was enough evidence uncovered during a preliminary investigation to warrant the charges against Ms. Thibault. She has been ordered to appear in court on October 27.

“The total amount of funds involved in the charges will be unveiled during the trial,” said Quebec prosecutor Martine Bérubé.

Federal and provincial audits released in June 2007 concluded that Ms. Thibault misspent as much as $700,000 in federal funds during her tenure from 1997 to 2007. It has yet to be clearly established the amount of provincial funds that may have also been misspent.

Part of the alleged fraud could include the $129,000 in federal living expenses that according to the federal and provincial auditors were reimbursed although they had already been covered by the provincial government.

And there’s the matter of $239,000 of out-of town expenses which according to the audits were not linked to any official duties. Portions of another $219,000 for in-town expenses according to the audits were not supported by documents and showed the money was not used for official functions.

“Since lieutenant-governors serve as heads of state of their provinces, they should be expected top show prudence in the use of the public funds entrusted to them,” said federal Auditor-General Sheila Fraser at the time. “It is disappointing to find that the former Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec failed to meet this reasonable expectation.”

Ms. Thibault, a paraplegic who needed special assistance in performing her duties, was an avid golfer and often received reimbursements for golf tournaments that had nothing to do with any official functions.

The audits uncovered tens of thousands of dollars in unjustified expenses for golf tournaments, barbecues, gifts and vacation trips during her years in office.

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