Union Montreal fundraiser caught in contradictions at inquiry
Published Tuesday, March 12, 2013 11:27AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2013 11:18PM EDT
MONTREAL—The self-described “kingpin of political campaigns” for Union Montreal told the Charbonneau Commission on Tuesday that raising money for political reasons was "very easy, simple."
Christian Ouellet testified that from 2004 to 2008, his job was to run election campaigns for Union Montreal, the political powerhouse that was former Mayor Gerald Tremblay's party.
Ouellet explained some of the nuts and bolts of political life on a municipal level, including how each candidate had to raise $16,000 for their own campaign. However, commissioners were particularly interested in his relationship with Bernard Trepanier, the fundraiser known as Mr. 3%.
Other witnesses have testified that Trepanier amassed large amounts of money, so much that he couldn't close a safe because of the sheer amount of cash it contained.
Trepanier has also been accused of demanding kickbacks from contractors who wanted to work on major public projects in Montreal.
Ouellet said that Trepanier was an acquaintance that he would occasionally see in the hallways but that they did not have much to do with each other.
That's when commission lawyer Cainnech Lussiaà-Berdou, in what is becoming a common occurrence at the Charbonneau Inquiry, produced phone records contradicting the witness.
The phone records showed the pair spoke nearly 100 times—much more often that Ouellet had admitted.
"So, what did you talk about with Mr. Trepanier? With whom you never had contact with?" asked Lussiaà-Berdou.
Ouellet was visibly flustered.
"Oh my god. No, I don't recall what we spoke about from what you explained or poorly explained, but I don't remember what we chatted about at that time," he answered.
Mr. 3% to testify soon
Trepanier was subpoenaed at his residence in Florida to appear before the commission.
He was been instructed to be ready to testify this week, although given the known list of witnesses it is possible he will not actually speak until next Monday or Tuesday.
Sources among the commission say that so far Trepanier has not been willing to co-operate with investigators.