MONTREAL – The fast-growing list of people tarred by testimony at Quebec’s corruption inquiry has now expanded to include a sitting judge.
A major witness is continuing with testimony after having implicated politicians of all stripes, at various levels, and explained how he used celebrities like hockey stars to corrupt officials.
Now he says Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Deziel once helped orchestrate an illegal political financing scheme at the municipal level.
Gilles Cloutier says Deziel was still a lawyer at the time, and was organizing the election campaign for the incumbent mayor of Blainville in 1997. Cloutier says Deziel summoned him to his office, handed over $30,000 and told him to find strawmen to pose as donors contributing $750 each.
Cloutier says that Deziel knew that he could easily find people as they’d worked together previously. At one point today, Cloutier said he was “good” at working out collusion schemes — although, he soon added, he wasn’t proud of it.
Cloutier, who worked for Roche Engineering Inc. at the time, says he was told the money — $100 bills in a white envelope — came from rival firm Dessau Inc.
He says he did as he was told and found people to write legal-looking cheques in about a week.
Cloutier says Roche was hard-pressed to get any work in Blainville, a suburb north of Montreal. He says the mayor was constantly on fishing trips with Dessau executive Rosaire Sauriol, and that company got the contracts.
So Cloutier said he started investing in the opposition party. And when it took power, the contracts started coming to Roche.
Deziel, a Blainville lawyer, was appointed to Quebec Superior Court in November 2003. His colleague, Justice France Charbonneau, is presiding over the corruption inquiry.
After sharing the anecdote, it was Cloutier who pointed out that his former ally had been named to the bench in 2003.
“It was fraud. I had to mention it,” the witness said.