Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis said he wasn't informed before attending a fundraiser in Montreal in 2009 that the guest list was mainly comprised of officials in the construction industry working on federal contracts.
Mr. Paradis told a parliamentary committee that his expectation as he went to the event was that he was about to meet "Conservative supporters."
Still, he rejected opposition allegations he used his position as the Conservative Party's Quebec lieutenant to "shake down" companies that had dealings with the federal government.
Mr. Paradis, who was minister of Public Works at the time of the event, said he did not discuss federal contracts with guests. "I made sure that there was no lobbying going on," he said.
The event was organized on behalf of a Conservative Party riding association in Montreal by Paul Sauvé, the president of construction firm LM Sauvé, which was working on a $9-million contract to restore a historic building on Parliament Hill.
The RCMP is investigating allegations Mr. Sauvé hired a Conservative supporter to act as a lobbyist during the tendering process.
Public Works gave LM Sauvé the contract in 2008. Mr. Sauvé says he paid Tory-connected businessman Gilles Varin $140,000 to help get the job. Mr. Varin insists he got only $118,000 for his efforts.
Mr. Sauvé's company went bankrupt a year later and lost the contract. The RCMP is investigating the deal, and a parliamentary committee is hearing witnesses on the matter.
Mr. Sauvé says he threw the January, 2009, cocktail party at the behest of Mr. Varin and the head of the Conservative riding association, Gilles Prud'Homme, as a thank-you for getting the West Block contract months earlier and under a different public works minister.
With a report from The Canadian Press