Engineer says no political party immune to illegal financing
A new witness at the Charbonneau Commission says representatives from all of Quebec’s political parties have accepted gifts and illegal campaign contributions.
The engineer, who cannot be identified, worked at both Roche and BPR. He said while at BPR he maintained his political contacts by bringing them on hunting and fishing trips.
Those contacts, he said, include Westmount MNA Jacques Chagnon, who is a Liberal and is now speaker of the National Assembly.
The witness alleged BPR paid for two trips Chagnon took with company representatives. Fellow Liberals Real Gauvin, a former MNA, and Norbert Morin, a current MNA, were also invited on similar trips, he said.
The key was to influence the awarding of contracts from whoever was in power, and so political parties were treated like business partners, the witness said.
He likened the parties to private clubs that act as suppliers of services to the government, and said things "haven't changed since the 1950s."
And he didn’t only focus on Liberal Party members who allegedly broke the rules. He said former Parti Quebecois MNAs Guy Lelievre and Jean-Guy Pare also received free trips.
The engineer also said he gave $10 000 to Pauline Marois' campaign in 2009.
And BPR offered the now-defunct Action Democratique, led by Mario Dumont, $100 000 when the party was riding high in the polls. The witness says the party accepted roughly $75,000.
Earlier in the day, the witness spoke of how pressure to give on the part of businesses was enormous, and no different from the Mafia collecting a pizzo - extortion money to ensure nothing bad would happen.
He said there was always a fear among businesses that refusing to donate to political parties at financing cocktails would result in being cut off from public contracts.
"Many have mentioned it here, the fear or hesitation of business people to say no. It was real," said the engineer.
The Charbonneau Commission has been spending a lot of time questioning engineers about political financing because it is trying to show a link between political donations and receiving contracts.
The witness’s testimony will continue Friday.