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Marois's spouse solicited $25,000: report

Marois's spouse solicited $25,000: report Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois and her husband Claude Blanchet are pictured in Beaupre, Que., on September 4, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MONTREAL - Pauline Marois flatly denied a report on Monday that her husband solicited $25,000 from an engineering executive before her successful bid for the Parti Quebecois leadership in 2007.

Radio-Canada reported the executive said in a signed affidavit that Claude Blanchet approached him and asked for the money.

The various cheques were for up to $3,000, which at the time was the maximum individual contribution in the PQ leadership race.

Radio-Canada said the man wrote in the affidavit that his company gave him the cheques and that he in turn handed them over in an envelope to Blanchet because he "wanted to have special access to Madame Marois."

Marois reacted shortly after the report was broadcast and denied the allegations.

She said she, her husband and the PQ have always respected the law on the financing of parties.

"The chief electoral officer looked at all the numbers and never found anything untoward," she said as she campaigned in Drummondville.

Blanchet also denied in the Radio-Canada report that he solicited the $25,000.

Radio-Canada said the man, who did not want to be identified, told the French-language network of the CBC he has known Blanchet for 15 years.

The network also reported that another engineering executive was asked for money by Blanchet ahead of the 2008 provincial election.

The man said he gave Blanchet cheques totalling $5,000 from employees of his firm.

Testimony at the provincial corruption inquiry has indicated that engineering firms have been generous contributors to political parties.

For example, testimony said that between 1996 and 2011, the Dessau firm gave a total of $1 million to the two major parties — $600,000 to the Liberals and $400,000 to the PQ.

It's not the first time Blanchet's name has come up during the Quebec election campaign.

In the second televised leader's debate last week, Marois was questioned about possible dealings between her husband and the province's largest labour federation.

The controversy revolves around a 2009 wiretap that was played recently at the provincial corruption inquiry and that hints at an arrangement between Blanchet and the Quebec Federation of Labour.

The recording captures Michel Arsenault, who was then president of the labour federation, saying he was ready to enlist the aid of the PQ to help thwart a corruption probe and that the labour union had a "deal with Blanchet.'"

"The PQ won't touch this," Arsenault is heard telling another union boss. "I'll talk to Pauline."

Marois was in opposition at the time of the recording.

She told the televised debate what she has repeated over and over since the testimony: there was no deal.

"Mr. Arsenault told the Charbonneau Commission that when he met me, he ran into a wall, a brick wall," she said. "I can assure you that there was no deal."

Marois has boasted that her government has attacked corruption since coming to power 18 months ago.

Pierre Karl Peladeau, a star PQ candidate who is majority shareholder of media giant Quebecor, defended Marois although he said he didn't know all the details of the report.

"Madame Marois, she's completely honest," Peladeau said as he entered a local candidates' debate in St-Jerome. "She's been in politics for so many years and no one during all those years has questioned the way she's been doing politics and the way she's been financing."

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