Wednesday, June 11, 2008



As of yesterday yet another federal Conservative luminary has fallen in the "Couillard affair". Bernard Côté, a Québec Conservative advisor was asked to resign by Public Works Minister Michael Fortier when it became known that he had been involved with Couillard last spring. At that time Couillard was acting of behalf of property developer Groupe Kevlar (even though she was not registered as a lobbyist), and Côté had access to federal government business that Kevlar was bidding on.

The whole affair actually gets more amusing week by week. It turns out that Couillard was being considered as a Conservative candidate herself, and that she made a $1,000 donation to the party in March 2007. Apparently the cheque bounced. Now this takes some gumption. It is one thing to have the lights come on in one`s head and realize that the real money is in politics rather than in organized crime (or are they really the same thing). It is quite another to piss off Sneaky Stevie as well as `Mom' Bouchard. Perhaps the Kevlar Group is into fashion wear as well as property development. It would seem appropriate. As a little afterthought, yesterday the federal government finally got around to removing Couillard's "designated person" status that would allow her basically diplomatic immunity on travel. Ooops. I guess one can't accuse the Conservatives of rash action. Slow but steady. Slow but steady.

Anyways, here's the story from the CTV Network.


Conservatives' troubles increase over Couillard
The federal government's headache over former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier's relationship with his ex-girlfriend Julie Couillard, who has ties to organized crime, just got a little more painful.

Bernard Cote, a top Quebec advisor for the Conservatives, was fired by the party on Tuesday after it was revealed he dated Couillard while she was vying for at least one multi-million dollar Public Works contract for property developer Groupe Kevlar Inc.

Public Works Minister Michael Fortier dismissed Cote on Tuesday after receiving a call from a Quebec reporter asking about a link between Cote and Couillard.

Fortier told The Toronto Star that Cote was in a conflict of interest and should have recused himself from all dealings that affected her, but he failed to do so.

Fortier told The Star that Cote, who was a special assistant in charge of his Montreal office, offered his resignation on Tuesday, and he accepted.

According to reports, Cote and Couillard dated briefly in the spring of 2007.

The former real estate broker and property manager ran unsuccessfully for the Progressive Conservatives on two previous occasions.

Commons hearings
Meanwhile on Tuesday, a House of Commons public safety committee heard that the RCMP was aware of Couillard before the scandal erupted over her relationship with Bernier.

On Tuesday, Raf Souccar, the RCMP's assistant commissioner for federal and international operations, appeared before the committee examining the affair.

He did not specify what the RCMP knew about Couillard, or whether any information had been passed on to the government.

Bernier stepped down on May 26, hours before Couillard revealed he had left classified briefing materials in her apartment in mid-April.

The committee is trying to determine the extent of the security breach. Bernier and Prime Minister Stephen Harper said they will not participate, although Couillard is expected to make an appearance next week.

Former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya told the committee that Bernier is being held to a lower security standard than a bureaucrat would be.

"What I wanted to bring to the committee ... is that there is a double standard," he told CTV's Mike Duffy Live Tuesday.

"There is a standard well established for federal employees, where we have procedures, we have policies to execute a security clearance, and how you behave after you obtain that security clearance.

"It is very obvious to me, with the information obtained, that there is a different way to proceed with an elected official. And alternatively, they do carry some of the most sensitive information the government has."

No comments: