QUEBEC - The premier of Quebec is defending the presence of Pierre Karl Peladeau, the media baron, at cabinet committee meetings.
Pauline Marois confirmed he has participated in two meetings in his role as chairman of Hydro-Quebec, the position she appointed him to at the provincial power utility.
The committee of seven ministers, which includes senior cabinet members including the finance minister, is looking at the electrification of transport, a sector that Marois announced on Monday would receive $516 million over three years.
Peladeau is also vice-chairman of the board of Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B), the conglomerate founded by his father which owns the Sun tabloids and the Sun News Network in English Canada.
Marois says she will continue to work closely with Peladeau on the transportation project.
She made the remarks Wednesday in reaction to a story by The Canadian Press about Peladeau's presence at cabinet.
Peladeau is the only chairman of a government agency to have access to such meetings, where the major strategic priorities of the government are discussed.
This week he denied rumours that he was being courted to take on a cabinet portfolio in the Parti Quebecois government. Last year, his wife Julie Snyder appeared at a PQ campaign event to endorse Marois.
"The (chairman) of Hydro-Quebec ... and some of his associates participated in meetings — because that's also my way of bringing together the different partners," Marois said.
"Don't forget that the Quebec government is a 100 per cent shareholder of Hydro-Quebec. As chairman of the board, Mr. Peladeau will continue to participate in this kind of meeting."