Normandeau's chief of staff pushed for project approval
A former senior advisor to deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau has confirmed that political interference in construction projects around Quebec was normal behaviour.
Michel Binette's specific task was to field calls from smaller municipalities across Quebec.
He told the corruption inquiry that he handled 40 to 50 calls each day from politicians seeking provincial assistance for construction projects in their own communities.
Like Yvan Dumont, who testified on Tuesday, Binette said that Normandeau routinely used her ministerial discretion to alter and approve projects, especially if they were taking place in ridings that had elected Liberal MNAs.
Binette said there were visual cues to determine if a request for provincial funding would be met, such as where on a desk a dossier would be placed.
"I would be led to believe that effectively there were political motivation to keep those dossiers on the [desk] corner, because for example it wasn't in a Liberal riding," said Binette.
"If it's on the corner, there are reasons that motivate the cabinet chief to leave them there and I can't explain them, but evidently all assumptions are valid."
However Binette said that while Normandeau ultimately approved projects, the decision about which projects to approve came from her chief of staff Bruno Lortie.
Binette called Lortie an "abrasive" man who was very pushy, especially when it came to getting project approval.
He also pointed out that Lortie was in control of fundraising for Normandeau, and that very often, companies that made contributions were more likely to get their work approved.
Defending his old boss, Binette also said that Normandeau may have given Lortie too much leeway to act independently.