MONTREAL - A Quebec cabinet minister will donate one of the salaries he's collecting to a social cause.
Jean-Francois Lisee says he will give away deferred pay he's been collecting since his departure from the Universite de Montreal's international-relations institute. Once his pension from that old job kicks in, as of March, he says he'll give that away too for as long as he's an MNA.
Writing on his blog Wednesday, Lisee said he'll give the money to an organization in his riding that helps high-school dropouts get job training.
Lisee is the minister for international relations, with responsibilities for the City of Montreal and for outreach to anglophones.
The payments from his old job had stoked some controversy. A front-page headline in the tabloid Journal de Montreal on Wednesday said: A Minister Gets Double Pay; Lisee Also Gets Money from the U of M Despite (University Funding) Cuts.
Lisee responded by announcing on his blog that he'd already been planning to give away the money, anyway, and would start doing so.
He also took a shot at the newspaper. Lisee said that last spring, before entering politics, he'd negotiated a deal to work for its parent company, Quebecor, and was certain that had he been working there his salary would never have made the front page of the Journal de Montreal.
"But I'm elected. And I'm one of the lucky ones," Lisee wrote.
"I'll give this money, in a stable and predictable way, to the (training programs) ... that work miracles to give a second chance — and sometimes a third — to young people who need a helping hand to get started in life... Mine is off to a (relatively) good start. Theirs need some help from us."
The newspaper revealed that, since September, Lisee had been collecting $150,924 in salary from the legislature, a $16,000 expense account, and payments from the university at a $104,000 annual rate, and was set to receive a $27,000 retirement bonus.
The continued payments were part of a confidential deal that Lisee negotiated with his former employer, and he described them as a deferral of previous salary.
The news emerged after the new Parti Quebecois government announced spending cuts at universities, following an elimination of tuition increases planned by the previous government.