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Conservative Senator Leo Housakos is shown in Montreal on Jan., 9, 2009. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Conservative Senator Leo Housakos is shown in Montreal on Jan., 9, 2009. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Federal Tories tied to Quebec companies accused of corruption Add to ...

During Mr. Housakos' time with BPR, the firm was part of a consortium that won a $1.4-million government contract to study the future of Montreal's Champlain Bridge.

Mr. Housakos told The Canadian Press that while he was paid a salary by BPR, he never received shares in exchange for his performance.

An investigation by the Senate ethics commissioner cleared Mr. Housakos of any suggestion that he abused his position of influence.

In the spring of 2009, BPR employees were among the more generous donors to the Tories' Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding association.

By cross-referencing Elections Canada donor lists with other publicly available information, The Canadian Press was able to identify at least 19 different employees who made a donation on April 17, 2009. That netted nearly $12,000 in donations for the party.

None of the April 17 donors contacted by The Canadian Press responded to interview requests.

Asked if employees were ever encouraged to donate to a particular political party, a BPR spokesperson replied that political donations “are considered personal and voluntary actions.”

“The actions of employees are governed by law and the Company's code of ethics,” Kathia Brien added in an emailed response.

Mr. Housakos said he only ever solicited funds from one BPR employee – the firm's president and CEO, Pierre Lavallee.

“He made a contribution of approximately 600 bucks back in 2009 and it was in regards to the cocktail of 2009 – May 20,” said the senator. Mr. Lavallee's contribution of $666.66, recorded on April 17, represented the “equivalent of six tickets to that event,” Sen. Housakos said, referring again to the May 20 fundraiser.

Two BPR employees – Rosaire Fontaine and Claude Briere – were arrested in 2011 as part of the investigation into Boisbriand's awarding of municipal contracts. Mr. Fontaine, who was charged again in last month's police roundup, has the same name as someone who donated $500 to the Tories in 2009, and $950 in 2007. Mr. Briere donated $800 in 2007.

Another BPR employee, Andre De Maisonneuve, was charged this month with fraud and conspiracy in connection with his handling of municipal contracts in Mascouche.

BPR said that Mr. Briere has since left the company, while Mr. Fontaine and Mr. De Maisonneuve have been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. All three have yet to enter a plea in their cases. Mr. Fontaine and Mr. Briere are next due in court on May 11.

The Conservatives were not alone in tapping the lucrative engineering industry in 2009.

Four members of BPR's board also donated to the Liberal riding association of Chambly-Borduas, which itself pulled in $470,755.41 in total contributions in 2009 – $182,000 more than the Tories managed in Laurier-Sainte-Marie.

The Liberals attribute the spike in contributions in Chambly-Borduas to a large regional fundraiser held June 4, 2009, which the riding co-ordinated and was attended by then Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. It then transferred much of the money raised to other Liberal riding associations in the province.

Around the time of the Liberal fundraiser, the party received an influx of donations from leading Montreal law firms.

On June 11, Chambly-Borduas registered contributions from at least 26 individuals whose names correspond with lawyers at Fasken Martineau, including $438.69 from a Jacques Audette. A Fasken Martineau lawyer with the same name was among those arrested on fraud and conspiracy charges last month for their alleged role in the Mascouche collusion scheme.

Among the other Grit donors that spring was Guy Charbonneau, a board member at the engineering firm S.M. Group.

The firm's president, Bernard Poulin, was at the centre of a high-profile political controversy last year.

During the 2011 election, an audio recording surfaced that purported to be a discussion between Mr. Poulin and construction magnate Tony Accurso about influencing the appointment process to the Montreal Port Authority's board of directors.

The voice that is allegedly Mr. Poulin's is heard telling Mr. Accurso that he will talk to Sen. Housakos. Their plan was to enlist the help of Dimitri Soudas, then one of the most powerful employees in the Prime Minister's Office.

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