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Former Quebec premier Jean Charest was under surveillance from police anti-corruption unit: report

Quebec Liberal Party Leader Jean Charest waves goodbye after he announced he resignation at the Quebec legislature Wednesday, September 5, 2012. Charest made the announcement in Quebec City Wednesday, a day after losing his own seat in the provincial election and seeing his party form the official Opposition.

QUEBEC — Former premier Jean Charest and a key fundraiser, Marc Bibeau, were under police surveillance right up until 2016 as part of an investigation into party fundraising and public contracts, the Journal de Montréal and TVA reported Tuesday.

The police also contemplated putting a wiretap on Charest and Bibeau’s calls but there is no indication that ever happened, the network said.

Based on leaked documents from the province’s anti-corruption unit, l’Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC), the media reported Charest and Bibeau were among 30 people targeted in the investigation called Mâchurer.

That same investigation also examined the activities of former Liberal minister Line Beauchamp and the former Liberal fundraising director Violette Trépanier.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard responds to Opposition questions over former premier Jean Charest and Marc Bibeau, during question period Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at the legislature in Quebec City.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

The documents do not explain exactly what the police were looking for and what became of the data gathered.

UPAC has refused to comment on the leaks but the news will feed the rumour machine at the National Assembly, which resumes sitting Tuesday following an Easter break.

Opposition parties are already calling for explanations on the nature of the investigations which have not resulted in any charges against Charest or Bibeau.

The documents, however, reveal the nature of the surveillance.

Among other things they show:

In January 2016 investigators asked for and obtained from Canadian officials the list of about a dozen border crossings by Bibeau and Charest dating back to 2003.

Detailed information cards on both were created. The data includes family information and personal finances.

Police obtained Charest’s passport information.

Police indicated their intention to intercept personal communications between Charest and Bibeau in early 2016. There is no indication that actually happened.

The investigation discussed is the same which resulted in the arrest of former deputy-premier Nathalie Normandeau and six other persons last year.

Investigators were looking into allegations large engineering and construction companies had made significant illegal contributions to political parties in return for government contracts and grants while the Liberals were in power between 2003 and 2012.

Charest has not commented on the report but Bibeau’s lawyer, William Brock, told La Presse Tuesday his client is furious such confidential information was deliberately leaked to taint Bibeau’s reputation based on conjecture.