Pauline Marois says fundraising allegations are an act of vengeance
Published Monday, March 31, 2014 6:53PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 1, 2014 6:29PM EDT
The leader of the Parti Quebecois says the accusations of shady fundraising by her husband are the act of someone determined to prevent her re-election.
A Montreal-area businessman claims that Pauline Marois' husband Claude Blanchet solicited $25,000 in campaign donations for his wife's party leadership bid in 2007, according to a report by Radio Canada.
The man, who works in an engineering consulting firm, said that he responded by supplying a series of cheques.
Marois was quick to respond to the allegations of shady political financing on Monday evening, but on Tuesday morning continued to face question after question about the use of false front political donations.
"I completely deny it and so does my husband," said Marois a few hours after the report was first aired.
"My husband has collected funds for the Parti Quebecois from time to time but he has always, I want to emphasize this, respected the rules of party financing," said Marois.
Claude Blanchet has denied that he solicited funds for his wife’s campaign and denied receiving an envelope of donations.
Most of the cheques were for $3,000, the maximum donation permissible by law, according to the report.
The man, who swore to the veracity of the story on March 25, said that he handed Blanchet an envelope full of cheques expecting that it would give him privileged access to Marois.
Marois was acclaimed as leader of the Parti Quebecois in 2007 after Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe opted not to run against her.
The man, who said that he had known Blanchet for 15 years at the time, was not identified in the report.
The alleged solicitation by Blanchet is not illegal.
According to the report, two of the company’s employees confirmed that they gave $3,000 and were reimbursed by the company later. They said that they felt uncomfortable making the donations.
Claude Blanchet has denied the story and sent a lawyer's letter threatening legal action against Radio Canada Monday.
The same report also stated that another engineering firm representative said that he was solicited by Blanchet in a similar manner in 2008. He said that he wrote $5,000 in cheques from employees who were later reimbursed or compensated.
Quebec's electoral law forbids reimbursing employees who make political donations.
Marois said that she, her husband and the PQ have always respected the law on the financing of parties.
Marois repeated Tuesday that her husband Claude Blanchet did not raise funds for her leadership bid in 2007 and said that they had no memory of him doing any fundraising during that period, even though he was registered as a fundraiser and would have been legally permitted to do so.
On Tuesday Quebec's Director General of Elections declined to comment on whether their office had written a report on the PQ's 2007 Parti Quebecois leadership race.
Marois told reporters Tuesday at a press conference in Drummondville that the current election campaign is the dirtiest she has ever seen and she blamed former Liberal premier Jean Charest for introducing the attack tactics to the Quebec electoral scene.
“I’m deeply saddened, very deeply,” said Marois about the mudslinging. "We live in an unimaginable climate of suspicion such as we’ve never before seen in Quebec,”
She addressed the reports concerning Blanchet Tuesday through the use of irony.
“I was so scared of others scrutinizing me and my party that I never hesitated to stand up dozens of times in the National Assembly to demand a commission to investigate the construction industry and the handing out of contracts and financing of political parties,” she told reporters.
-With a file from The Canadian Press