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'If I didn't marry you, you'd be dead' Add to ...

The Hells Angels biker associate who was married to Julie Couillard for nearly two years has emerged from a decade in hiding in the witness protection program to give a rare insider's portrait of the woman to whom he was married - and the dangerous criminal biker world of betrayal and suspicion she frequented.

In an exclusive interview, Stéphane Sirois gave his take on Ms. Couillard's life, and the details will only add to the questions now before Parliament about how she was able to become a partner of the now-disgraced former foreign affairs minister, Maxime Bernier.

Further, The Globe and Mail has learned that Ms. Couillard was known to the RCMP a full decade before she appeared in public with Mr. Bernier because they ordered a surveillance operation on her home in 1998 as part of a drug investigation, court papers show. This is the first evidence showing that Ms. Couillard was known to the RCMP, the force responsible for protecting cabinet ministers.

Opposition parties have been informed that officials from the RCMP will be the first witnesses to appear Tuesday when the public safety committee of the House launches its inquiry into Mr. Bernier's misplaced classified documents at Ms. Couillard's home.

Court documents also show that by 2004, Ms. Couillard wanted to be involved in politics. In a February, 2004, application to have her driver's licence reinstated, she said she was the president of a numbered company where she got to do promotional work "and see to the organization of special events such as volunteering for federal elections."

Last night, Radio-Canada reported that Ms. Couillard was seen in 2006 dining with Normand Descôteaux, a loan shark who was an associate of the criminal figures she knew in the 1990s.Jean-Claude Hébert, a prominent defence lawyer representing Ms. Couillard, declined comment to The Globe and Mail yesterday, saying he would wait to read what Mr. Sirois had to say.

Mr. Sirois, a police informant who lives in an unknown location under the auspices of the witness protection program, gave pointed, if tardy, advice to Mr. Bernier during a four-hour interview with The Globe and Mail at a prearranged neutral venue.

"Stay away from her."

Ms. Couillard has been at the centre of the sex and security scandal that has swirled around Ottawa - a scandal that forced Mr. Bernier to resign last month and will be the focus of parliamentary hearings next week.

"I came here to set the record straight," Mr. Sirois said. "I ain't no saint - but neither was she . . . She's attracted to people with money and power."

It is the first time Mr. Sirois has spoken since he testified in 2003 that Hell Angels leader Maurice (Mom) Boucher had considered having Ms. Couillard murdered because he suspected she had close ties to police.

Mr. Sirois is also the first of those close to Ms. Couillard to speak out - and few people were as intimate with her as he was. Of the five men she has been recently revealed to be associated with - a convicted Mafia gangster, a loan shark, a biker, a security consultant who trafficked in stolen goods and finally a former Tory cabinet minister - Mr. Sirois is the only one she married.

Now working as a self-described "successful businessman," Mr. Sirois - praised by police as one of their best undercover agents and trial witnesses - spoke in fluent English, occasionally slipping into Québécois joual to describe his crime years. Throughout the four-hour interview, he wore dark sunglasses and a baseball cap to hide his face and agreed to be photographed only in silhouette. The bikers have killed several informants in the past.

Details of his life with Ms. Couillard are difficult to verify, because she has so far given only two carefully scripted interviews to the Quebec media and has declined all further inquiries. But much of what Mr. Sirois says can be corroborated by court testimony, police wiretaps and his police handlers.

DIFFERENT KIND OF WOMAN

However, this is Mr. Sirois's version of events. To this day, Mr. Sirois says he remembers the first time he set eyes on a young Julie Couillard when she strolled into a bar in Montreal's north end on a Tuesday night, in the middle of 1997.

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