Former PQ minister defends 'road to nowhere'
Published Thursday, May 8, 2014 2:35PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 9, 2014 8:13AM EDT
The Charbonneau Commission heard from a familiar face Thursday, as Guy Chevrette, who sat as PQ MNA for 25 years, answered allegations made yesterday that he meddled with bureaucrats to promote the building of a road deemed unnecessary.
Chevrette, who served as Transportation Minister between 1998 and his retirement in 2002, denounced a narrative made a day earlier by former bureaucrat Mario Turcotte.
Turcotte said that Chevrette had intervened to greenlight an unnecessary $18 million stretch of road between the small municipalities of Saint Donat and Lac Superieur.
The 50 km road between two towns with a combined population of about 6,000 goes through Mont Tremblant national park and is little used.
Chevrette noted that his underling Turcotte signed his approval onto the document. "Why didn't he tell me that he was against the road?" asked Chevrette, who said that the road was meant to promote economic development to the area.
Chevrette also passionately refuted testimony made one year earlier by Gilles Cloutier of the Roche construction firm, who said that Chevrette took part in a cocktail fundraiser to raise money for Prevost MNA Lucie Papineau in 2001.
Cloutier said that certain construction company administrators paid $1,000 to attend and said that Chevrette made changes to the construction contract submission schedule following the event.
The former PQ MNA said that Cloutier was somebody he consciously avoided and that he never sat next to him.
He also questioned the timeline of the narrative and described Cloutier’s claims as “crazy,” “unthinkable” and “libelous.”
Chevrette said that he sought financing from company employees, as he was aware that soliciting donations from companies was not permitted. Then-leader Jacques Parizeau asked him to raise money in a legal manner on the eve of the 1995 referendum and he complied.
Chevrette also noted that when a cabinet minister speaks at a fundraiser, he usually does not know how much tickets costs, who will attend and how many people will attend.
“I wish I had a UPAC (anti-corruption unit) to say ‘don’t shake such-and-such-a-person’s hand,’ or ‘that person is rotten stay away,'” said Chevrette.
Chevrette, who served as a minister in the Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry governments, was Minister of Transportation from 1998 until he retired in January 2002.
"I left in complete disagreement with the government and I'm writing about it now," said Chevrette. "If you want to know why you can read my book."
His testimony will continue Friday.
Next week the Commission hopes to hear from Liberal MNA Julie Boulet, who served as Transportation Minister from 2003 until 2007.