February 1, 2018 11:14 pm

Guy Ouellette testifies in corruption trial

WATCH: Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette is testifying in the corruption case against former party members Nathalie Normandeau and Marc-Yvan Côté in Quebec City. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

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MNA Guy Ouellette denied playing a role in media leaks about UPAC Thursday under oath. The politician was arrested last October by the anti-corruption unit, but never charged.

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Ouellette took the stand in a stay of proceedings for the Nathalie Normandeau and Marc-Yvan Côté fraud case. Normandeau was the former vice-premier under Jean Charest, and Côté was once a top Liberal fundraiser. The two were arrested alongside five others in March 2016.

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READ MORE: Nathalie Normandeau fraud trial likely to begin in early 2018

Côté’s lawyers are hoping to get the case thrown out, arguing that their client will not be able to receive a fair trial because of all the leaks to journalists concerning UPAC investigations. Over the past month, UPAC’s credibility has been called into question.

Guy Ouellette arrived at the courthouse Thursday afternoon, accompanied by whistle-blower Annie Trudel. Trudel was the independent auditor hired by former transport minister Robert Poeti to look into corruption at the transport ministry.

READ MORE: Guy Ouellette vs UPAC: What you need to know about Quebec’s biggest political scandal in years

Ouellette is protected by parliamentary privilege; on numerous occasions his lawyer interrupted to object to certain questions concerning his official role as an MNA and as a former president of a National Assembly committee. Ouellette’s testimony was very difficult to hear — in fact, one member of the media made a special request to the judge to adjust Ouellette’s microphone. Even so, the MNA was barely audible.

While most of what was said was not heard by media present in the courtroom, it was clear that Ouellette denied having any responsibility for the leak of information concerning Marc Bibeau, Jean Charest or Marc-Yvan Côté.

READ MORE: Former Quebec premier Jean Charest, Marc Bibeau investigated by UPAC: report

When asked if he knew who was responsible for these leaks, Ouellette replied, “no.”

Ouellette’s testimony followed that from two former UPAC officers — one who was fired in 2016, and another who was suspended in 2017.  Richard Despaties and Stephane Bonhomme were suspected of giving UPAC documents to Ouellette. Both men denied that and said they don’t know where the leaks came from.

Despaties spoke at length about the toxic work environment and complaints of “psychological harassment” at UPAC: “It’s leaking everywhere.”

For his part, Bonhomme testified he had two confidential UPAC documents at his home, which officers seized around the same time they arrested Ouellette. Bonhomme said he mistakenly carried these documents home with a stack of personal papers and when he realized his mistake, hid them in a closet because of their sensitive nature.

There’s another aspect of this case: as of April 2016 — just a month after Normandeau and Côté were arrested, a man who goes only by the name of “Pierre” has reached out to members of the media, allegedly offering up evidence UPAC has collected on the politicians. Two of those journalists, who Pierre supposedly contacted, have been given a subpoena to appear in court Friday. They are currently fighting the subpoena.

 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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