Health network employees believed they had won tickets to a Gregory Charles show as a thank you for their efforts during the pandemic. Instead, they found themselves this weekend at an election-related event hosted by a Liberal MP.
“You have won two tickets to a Gregory Charles show, an event offered by the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. Tickets are allocated by lottery and you are one of the winning collaborators”.
Gregory Charles. Artist
This was the e-mail that several dozen employees of this health institute received on April 28.
These workers therefore came in large numbers to the Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs church in Verdun on Sunday afternoon.
They quickly noticed that the event had a strong political twist, five months before the general election:
Leaflets were distributed throughout the church praising the achievements of MP Melançon.
- A color brochure with several photos, praising the achievements of Verdun MNA Isabelle Melançon, was distributed at the entrance and placed on every pew.
- The leader of the PLQ Dominique Anglade was present. She took the opportunity to chat with many citizens and posted photos of the event on Twitter.
- Member of Parliament Melançon gave a speech. She then shared her great pride in hosting the event on her Facebook page. “What a day! I’m still in cloud nine! I had the pleasure of welcoming nearly 600 people,” she wrote in particular.
At the exit, the spectators received this thank you card from the MP.
- When leaving the church, the staff who had attended the show received a thank you card with a photo of Isabelle Melançon.
“When we realized it was a political event, we thought about leaving. Several people wondered what they were doing there,” said one person who was sitting in the room and asked for anonymity.
According to this contestant, people still seemed to appreciate the artist’s performance.
“The concert was great. Gregory Charles is a good one to perform she adds.
According to Jeremy Ghio, communications director in Dominique Anglade’s office, the event was “organized by the church’s factory, with the help of Isabelle Melançon’s constituency”.
With public funds
Mr Ghio mentioned that the Verdun member had allocated $15,058 in public funds to the event from her discretionary budget, an expenditure approved by the National Assembly.
This amount was used to pay “the rent of the room and equipment” as well as a “small portion of Gregory’s stamp”, he added, without being able to state how much the stamp amounted to.
This email sent to CIUSSS employees made no mention of the political nature of the event.
The email we consulted, which was sent to the ‘winning collaborators’ of the CIUSSS, contained no indication of the political nature of the event.
Jean Nicolas Aubé, senior media relations adviser at CIUSSS, assures that when the invitation was first shared between managers, it was stated very clearly that “Mrs Isabelle Melançon is organizing a special event to express her gratitude to those who have been on the front lines from the start of the pandemic”.
According to him, it was possible afterwards that this information was not communicated to certain employees.
Not in his plans
Gregory Charles, for his part, makes sure that this event should not be taken as an indication of ties between him and the PLQ.
“I didn’t know Dominique Anglade was there. […] I’ve never done a political event. I don’t have a party card,” he explained, reachable by phone.
He sees this concert as a corporate event, “as I do 100 a year”.
The artist, whose public outing on education last week sparked a lot of comments, reiterates that he plans “zero” to run for election on October 3.
But he adds: [En politique] it’s like wartime. If we are asked, it would be foolish to just say no.”