Quebec’s opposition party, the Parti Quebecois, questioned the province’s governing Liberal Party during a national assembly held on December 9th, as to why the provincial transport ministry, the SAAQ, spent taxpayers’ money to spy on the Front Commun Motocycliste during the Quebec City motorcycle show last February.
The Front Commun is an amalgamation of three politically motivated
motorcycle associations intent on resisting the provincial government’s
anti-motorcycling legislation, which includes, among other things,
charging disproportionately high insurance and licensing fees to Quebec
motorcyclists compared to other road users.
According to deputy pequist, Nicolas Girard, the SAAQ paid $6,329 to the PR firm National to attend the Quebec City motorcycle and ATV show and secretly gather intelligence on the Front Commun, which had booths set up at the show. The SAAQ says it only paid $2,304 for the covert operation.
In a 175-word report the PR firm found that the Front Commun “occupied an important place in the Quebec City motorcycle and ATV show.” The report went on to declare, “they seem to be organized, informed, and very motivated.”
Knowledge of the spy mission commissioned by the SAAQ provoked a firm reaction by the Front Commun, which was unaware of their surveillance during the show. “We are outraged and shocked! Dammit, we’re not Al-Qaeda!” said Eric Lessard, spokesman for the Front Commun.
The SAAQ confirmed it did hire National to “visit” the Quebec City motorcycle show, though François Rémillard, assistant to SAAQ president Nathalie Tremblay, insisted that the firm did not spy, saying the SAAQ “wanted to see what was going on [to] feel the pulse of the message conveyed to the public by the motorcycle groups.”