PQ and CAQ want the departure of the president of the Commission of human rights

PQ et CAQ veulent le départ de la présidente de la Commission des droits de la personne

QUEBEC — The Parti québécois (PQ) and Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) have both called Tuesday for the resignation of the president of the Commission of human rights and droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ), Tamara Thermitus.

They made the announcement after the minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée, had made public an independent report on the situation to the commission, on the occasion of the consideration of the estimates of his ministry.

The CDPDJ is experiencing several challenges related to the governance, management, human resources and communications.

According to the author of the report, the former assistant minister Lise Verreault, Ms. Thermitus has a management style that “tends to create resistance and the demobilization staff.” It would not have the capacity nor the skills to make changes and to “rectify the situation”.

This is a report on “very hard” and “unequivocal”, has found the vice-leader of the PQ, Véronique Hivon, who, with the deputy caquiste Simon Jolin-Barrette, promptly asked for the resignation of Ms. Thermitus.

“We have lost all confidence in the person of the president, said Ms. Hivon. We believe that Ms. Thermitus must resign now.

“If she does not resign today [Tuesday], it is our opinion that the national Assembly will have to withdraw its confidence in the place of the president”, she added. It would be a gesture without precedent.

The minister of Justice tabled the report Verreault in the blue Room, on Tuesday, in order that all members can read and discuss. “The status of the presidency is not of me but of the national Assembly,” she argued.

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Tamara Thermitus has been named chair of the CDPDJ in February 2017 by the national Assembly. She is off work since last October.

The report Verreault paints a picture of the situation in the fall of 2017, and recognizes several qualities to Ms. Thermitus, including its “excellent reputation in law and great legal skills”. The report identifies, however, serious deficiencies in the management of staff.

“The way the president handles his staff has raised a significant number of negative comments during the interviews. The discontent is widespread,” one can read there.

“The allegations raised against the president are often compared to unethical behaviour, use of inappropriate language and the adoption of practices disrespectful,” says the ex-deputy minister in his report, adding that an investigation by the ombudsman is still in progress.

The report “makes important recommendations”, for its part, has responded to the acting chairman of the commission, Philippe-André Tessier.

“We will examine these with seriousness and openness, he writes in a press release. Currently, to improve the quality of our services is at the heart of all our actions. It is therefore with the greatest attention that we are going to analyse the report in order to take advantage of this external advice on the functioning of our institution.”

Regarding governance, the commission points out that apart from two departures recent, all the positions of the members of the Commission and managers that were vacant last year have been filled.

“The employees of the commission are committed and professional. They have continued their excellent work despite the recent changes in senior management, and looking to the front. Beyond the presidency, there is a whole organization that ensures the day to day running of the operations of the commission,” added Mr. Tessier.

The CDPDJ has the mandate to ensure the respect and promotion of the principles enshrined in the Charter of rights and freedoms of Quebec. It also ensures the protection of the interests of the child, as well as the respect and promotion of the rights conferred by the Act on the protection of the youth. It also ensures the application of the Act respecting equal access to employment in public bodies.

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