‘I was framed,’ Que­bec politi­cian says

Guy Ouel­lette not charged with any crimes fol­low­ing his ar­rest last week

Toronto Star - - CANADA - AL­LAN WOODS QUE­BEC BUREAU

MON­TREAL— A for­mer cop-turned politi­cian, a venge­ful anti-cor­rup­tion po­lice force and a mys­tery in­ter­view recorded by a politi­cian fear­ing he will be jailed be­fore he can go pub­lic with the find­ings of his own probe.

This is no back-page de­tec­tive-novel sum­mary, but the con­tours of a real-life cloak-and-dag­ger drama play­ing out in Que­bec that could cli­max in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture this week.

The politi­cian, a for­mer Sûreté du Québec biker gang de­tec­tive named Guy Ouel­lette, has shared the al­leged find­ings of his own rene­gade cor­rup­tion in­quiry with a Mon­treal ra­dio host. The con­tents, which have not been in­de­pen­dently con­firmed, could be ex­plo­sive.

Ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal de Mon­treal, Ouel­lette was prob­ing com­plaints that two of the pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions tasked with root­ing out cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties in Que­bec — the po­lice and the pro­vin­cial se­cu­ri­ties reg­u­la­tor — are them­selves en­gaged in im­proper be­hav­iour.

On Mon­day af­ter­noon, the Que­bec gov­ern­ment said it would ask the province’s au­di­tor gen­eral to look into the two agen­cies.

“Con­fi­dence in our in­sti­tu­tions is pre­cious and ex­tremely im­por­tant and, on a day like to­day, that con­fi­dence can be se­verely tested. But in a con­text like this, it is im­por­tant to keep a cool head and take the right de­ci­sions,” said Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Martin Coi­teux.

The de­tails of the af­fair have only come to light af­ter Ouel­lette him­self was ar­rested by in­ves­ti­ga­tors with Que­bec’s anti-cor­rup­tion squad, known as l’Unité per­ma­nente an­ti­cor­rup­tion, or UPAC, last week.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors were re­port­edly prob­ing the leak of con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia that had to do with for­mer Que­bec premier Jean Charest and the fi­nances of the pro­vin­cial Lib­eral party. Speak­ing about the leak ear­lier this year, the head of the anti-cor­rup­tion squad, Robert Lafrenière, vowed to bring to jus­tice “the ban­dit” re­spon­si­ble for the leak.

Ouel­lette was not charged with any crimes fol­low­ing his ar­rest last week, but UPAC said in a state­ment that the ar­rest was “nec­es­sary, among other rea­sons, to se­cure pieces of ev­i­dence and to pre­vent the in­frac­tions from con­tin­u­ing or be­ing re­peated.”

That po­lice vig­i­lance re­port­edly con­tin­ued af­ter Ouel­lette’s ar­rest and a search of his Que­bec City apart­ment.

Last Fri­day, the politi­cian walked into the of­fice of Mon­treal ra­dio host Bernard Drainville, claim­ing that he had been un­der sur­veil­lance ever since his ar­rest and didn’t know where else to turn.

Af­ter sev­eral hours in the com­pany of Drainville, who is a for­mer Parti Que­be­cois mem­ber of the Que­bec leg­is­la­ture, Ouel­lette recorded his al­le­ga­tions for safe keep­ing, in case he did not get to re­peat them in Que­bec City on Tues­day.

As an elected mem­ber speak­ing in the leg­is­la­ture, Ouel­lette would ben­e­fit from par­lia­men­tary im­mu­nity and be able to speak with­out fear of a li­bel or defama­tion law­suit.

“The events of this week have led me to think that UPAC will do ev­ery­thing to muz­zle me, to si­lence a par­lia­men­tar­ian . . . so that I can­not give my ver­sion or in­form the pop­u­la­tion about all the in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tics that are un­der­way right now by this same unit,” he told Drainville, ac­cord­ing to an ex­cerpt of the in­ter­view that was played on the 98.5FM ra­dio sta­tion Mon­day morn­ing.

Ouel­lette also de­nied he was in­volved in the leak of con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion about Charest. In­stead, he said he was be­ing pun­ished for try­ing to stand up to a po­lice force that has grown too pow­er­ful and is no longer ac­count­able to its elected masters.

“I never could have thought I could be framed like I was framed last Wed­nes­day,” he said, re­fer­ring to his ar­rest. “I never thought that could hap­pen in 2017, par­tic­u­larly for an elected of­fi­cial who is only do­ing his work.”

Ouel­lette was ac­com­pa­nied at the

“The events of this week have led me to think that UPAC will do ev­ery­thing to muz­zle me.” GUY OUEL­LETTE IN AN IN­TER­VIEW WITH MON­TREAL RA­DIO HOST BERNARD DRAINVILLE

ra­dio sta­tion by a for­mer gov­ern­ment an­a­lyst, An­nie Trudel, who said she has been pro­vid­ing him with in­for­ma­tion about a scheme that forces com­pa­nies to pay ex­or­bi­tant sums to con­sul­tants be­fore they can ob­tain a manda­tory per­mit that al­lows them to bid on pub­lic con­tracts.

Que­bec’s fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tor, l’Au­torité des marchés fi­nanciers (AMF), is the pub­lic body that is­sues or de­nies the per­mits to com­pa­nies.

A di­vi­sion of the anti-cor­rup­tion po­lice force con­ducts the back­ground checks into com­pa­nies seek­ing the per­mit to bid on con­tracts.

Trudel told the Jour­nal de Mon­treal that the per­mits are granted by Que­bec’s fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tor only af­ter com­pa­nies have paid money to pri­vate con­sul­tants to come into com­pli­ance with UPAC’s rec­om­men­da­tions. In one in­stance, Trudel said a com­pany had to pay $600,000 in fees to the con­sul­tants. In another case, the price tag for com­pli­ance was $1 mil­lion to meet the re­quire­ments for a per­mit.

“If they don’t have their per­mis­sion from the (fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tor), they go bank­rupt,” Trudel said of the com­pa­nies. “If I look at the def­i­ni­tion of cor­rup­tion for the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, it fits.”

L’Au­torité des marchés fi­nanciers is­sued a state­ment Mon­day deny­ing the al­le­ga­tions.

The se­cu­ri­ties reg­u­la­tor said it is up the com­pa­nies alone to de­cide how to re­spond to the rec­om­men­da­tions nec­es­sary to ob­tain a per­mit. “In no case and at no mo­ment in the process does the AMF in­ter­vene to sug­gest a busi­ness go with a par­tic­u­lar con­sult­ing firm to help in its case.”

JAC­QUES BOISSINOT/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

MLA Guy Ouel­lette was not charged with any crimes fol­low­ing his ar­rest last week, but UPAC said the ar­rest was needed to “se­cure ev­i­dence.”

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