Quebec corruption inquiry shifts focus to provincial party financing

MONTREAL – A Quebec construction boss says he gave generously to municipal and political parties of all stripes, but never expected contracts in return.

Joe Borsellino says he viewed the various events as a networking exercise.

He contributed to the provincial Liberals, and to a lesser extent the Parti Quebecois, along with municipal parties in Montreal.

He says his contributions were always made by cheque, never with cash, though he admitted he may have reimbursed people outside his family for donations they made on one or two occasions. It is illegal to funnel donations through third parties in order to hide contributions that exceed the limits.

Testifying for a fourth day today, the owner of Garnier Construction says the fundraising cocktails were a great way to meet different people: engineering-firm executives, land developers, accountants and law firms were all present, he says.

But he was vague when asked a followup question: In what way was it useful?

He was asked repeatedly by commission lawyers what the political parties could do for him. He replied that it was good to be seen attending such events, and being able to network was good for business.

He denies that he ever sought favours, such as kickbacks or help in gaining contracts.

Borsellino says he no longer attends cocktails today because it gives the impression of a conflict of interest, to be bidding on contracts while being cosy with the political class.

He says the requests for political donations dried up around 2007 or 2008.




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