A well-known Quebec whistleblower says she has an explanation for why she and a Liberal MNA were arrested last week.
Annie Trudel, a former Quebec transport ministry analyst, told the Journal de Montreal she was arrested by the province’s anti-corruption squad UPAC, on the same day officers arrested MNA Guy Ouellette.
Trudel also claims she and Ouellette were being followed by police.
Hired by former transport minister Robert Poeti to do some digging at the transport ministry, last June, Trudel spoke out, claiming she uncovered irregularities.
She also claimed documents she prepared were tampered with and she faced intimidation because of her work.
On Monday, the Quebecor media chain reported that Trudel is now alleging there's a system of collusion between UPAC, the AMF (Quebec's financial markets regulator) and a firm of private consultants.
In an interview, Trudel said Guy Ouellette was about to go public with those revelations, which is why he was arrested last week in connection with leaked documents.
He has not been charged with any crime and has denied being the source of the leak.
Since 2013, firms that want to bid on government contracts require clearance from the AMF. That clearance is only granted after an analysis by UPAC.
Trudel is alleging UPAC referred at least two firms to private consultants and those consultants were charging up to $1 million.
During a news conference on Monday afternoon, Quebec Public Safety Minister Martin Coiteux said the government is taking the allegations seriously.
He said the province's auditor general would review the AMF's process for approving government contracts and would amend Bill 107, a bill that established UPAC's independence.
"Independence doesn't mean you don't have to be transparent," he said. "In order to increase the transparency of the system, we will propose in the context of that bill in particular, a new mechanism by which UPAC will have occasions... to answer the questions of parliamentarians."
He added that the allegations have not made him doubt UPAC's competence.
"There are investigations underway, those investigations have to go through their final conclusions," he said. "We have to be very careful about letting the process go, but at the same time, Quebecers have legitimate questions and those questions have to be answered."
Our concern is to maintain the trust and confidence of Quebecers in their instutions... when you read things like this or hear them like the allegations we've seen today. Confidence may be shaken. So our response is proportionate to this," he said.
On Monday morning, the AMF issued a statement calling the allegations totally false and gratuitous and damaging to the reputation and integrity of its entire staff.
Meanwhile, Trudel's interview also revealed she and Ouellette met in downtown Montreal last Friday and went into hiding at the offices of a Montreal radio station after, she said, they realized they were being followed by police.
Radio station 98.5 FM aired an interview with Guy Ouellette.
"The events of this week lead me to believe that UPAC will do everything it can to muzzle me - muzzle a parliamentarian - so I cannot give my version, or inform the population of all the intimidation tactics which are underway now in this same unit," he said in the interview.
UPAC hasn't confirmed Trudel was arrested last Wednesday. She claimed she was placed under arrest, but after a few minutes police let her go without any charges.