Max Bernier comes out clean as snow
Julie Couillard, the former girlfriend of Maxime Bernier, was lobbying illegally for a Quebec real estate company to rent a huge office building to the Conservative government.
That's the finding of Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd, after a lengthy investigation of the infamous "Couillard Afffair."
But since all she did was illegal lobbying, there will be no prison, not even a fine. This is Ottawa. Her activities will be reported to Parliament and she'll be told "Don't do this again Miss Couillard."
The Lobbying Commissioner determined that back in 2007 Couillard worked for the Groupe Immobilier Kevlar Inc. She was paid $ 7,500 a month, and stood to get another $ 100,000 if she could convince government officials in Ottawa to rent 200,000 square feet of office space in a huge building that Kevlar was building in Quebec City.
The deal never went through, and Couillard only got $51,177 in monthly salaries. She admitted she repeatedly discussed the lease with Bernard Côté, a senior advisor to the Minister of Public Works, between March 2007 and June 2008.
Couillard told the Commissioner that her relations with Côté and Bernier were not those of a lobbyist.
Côté had no decisional power for renting offices in Quebec, and she thought rental contracts for government offices were awarded by the Treasury Board, not by Public Works.
Couillard said her work for Kevlar amounted only to obtaining information on whether it was worth it for Kevlar to submit a rental proposal.
She said she never influenced the Harper government.
Commissioner Karen Shepherd rejected her arguments and said Couillard was indeed lobbying illegally.
In Ottawa, lobbying is a legitimate activity but lobbyists must register. There are more than 3,000 registered lobbyists in Ottawa. Couillard was not one of them.
The investigation found no evidence that Couillard talked about Kevlar with Bernier. He came into her life a year later.
And besides, it seems their relations were of a completely different nature.