May 16, 2014 4:01 pm

Party financing: Liberals again on the defensive

Quebec Liberal Party Leader Philippe Couillard, right, gets a hug from local candidate Julie Boulet on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 in Trois-Rivieres Que.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

QUEBEC CITY – Philippe Couillard and Thomas Mulcair, both former ministers in the Charest cabinet, wanted to see on Friday if they could work together again.

Couillard was hosting Mulcair at the National Assembly in Quebec City.

“I think it’s tremendous that Philippe Couillard is showing an openness, that desire to get back to a leadership position. I encourage him, he’ll have a willing ally in the NDP official opposition,” said Mulcair at the end of the meeting.

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The two men don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to the Senate but agree the Champlain bridge shouldn’t have any tolls. However, it’s Mulcair’s fundraising for the Liberal party that generated the most interest.

“They were objectives that were established at the time, yes, and we were made aware of that,” he said.

Former Transport Minister Julie Boulet told the Charbonneau commission this week she knew nothing of party financing. Her colleague Sam Hamad is also pleading ignorance. Hamad was vice-president at the engineering firm Roche in the 1990s.

“I never asked to reiumburse my contribution and I never assist meetings with vice-presidents regarding political contributions,” said Hamad.

CAQ MNA Sylvie Roy said she believes Quebecers deserve to know whether Liberal ministers acted illegally.

“I think amnesia is contagious at the Liberal party,” Roy told reporters. “I’m a lawyer, I know what lies of omission are.”

While the Liberals scramble, business leaders are growing nervous. Quebec’s Conseil du patronat said on Friday with a budget coming, the priority should be on cleaning up public finances and shoring up investor support.

“It becomes very difficult, it’s very hard to have a communication and a dialogue because now everybody is shy to communicate with someone and being seen as influencing decisions for specific private interest,” said council President Yves-Thomas Dorval.

Dorval added he is glad that Couillard’s majority government is finally bringing in some stability, but he said he hopes corruption allegations dogging the party won’t stall its progress.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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