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Former Quebec cabinet minister denies kickback allegations

Former Quebec Transport Minister Guy Chevrette is seen in a frame grab from the video feed at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Friday, May 9, 2014 in Montreal.

HO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A long-time Parti Québécois cabinet minister vehemently denied Friday he accepted money in exchange for political favours.

Guy Chevrette wrapped up his testimony at the Charbonneau Commission amid continued examination of allegations against him.

Gilles Cloutier, a former political organizer and engineering firm executive, alleged in 2013 that $100,000 went to Gilles Beaulieu, a friend of Mr. Chevrette, supposedly for access to the minister.

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Mr. Cloutier alleged the payment was split between a businessman and the engineering firm Roche for help in securing a $20-million road contract in St-Donat, north of Montreal.

He testified that he heard the money was earmarked for a vacation planned by Mr. Chevrette – a statement the former transport minister denied Friday.

"I never asked for money from anyone. I never asked someone else to go and get money from someone else," said Mr. Chevrette, who was transport minister between 1998 and 2002.

"I never received any money from anyone else and, in passing, Roche [Mr. Cloutier's firm] never offered me anything."

Coincidentally, Mr. Chevrette did take a 100-day vacation in 2002 after his retirement, with Mr. Beaulieu, which inquiry counsel said cost almost $100,000 in total. But Mr. Chevrette vehemently denied the money for the holiday came from a kickback. He said the trip cost him and his wife $49,200, a sum that included a $25,000 gift from the PQ in honour of his quarter-century of service. Mr. Chevrette was adamant that, as a sitting minister, he could not have planned or taken a 100-day trip.

Mr. Chevrette maintained that response when commission chair France Charbonneau asked him a second time whether anyone had paid for any trips during his time in politics.

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