SQ investigated 2008 Liberal Party fundraiser in luxury condo

An investigation by Radio-Canada has revealed that provincial police once turned their attention to a fundraiser for a member of Quebec's Liberal Party that took place in one of Montreal's most prestigious condo buildings.
Radio-Canada has learned the provincial police investigated a fundraiser for the Quebec Liberal Party held in 2008. 2:15

An investigation by Radio-Canada has revealed that provincial police once turned their attention to a fundraiser for a member of Quebec's Liberal Party that took place in one of Montreal's most prestigious condo buildings.

The Sûreté du Québec investigated the May 2008 fundraising event because two people with links to organized crime were allegedly in attendance.

Two cabinet ministers in former premier Jean Charest's government also attended the event.

The cocktail party was held to raise money for former revenue minister Jean-Marc Fournier, currently the interim leader of  Quebec Liberal Party.

That event, which brought in more than $25,000 in donations, took place at a lavish $5 million condo located at 1000 de la Commune in Montreal's Old Port.

According to Radio-Canada, about 20 units in the building were occupied by members of organized crime in recent years.

A retired police investigator, Sylvain Tremblay, compared the building to a bunker for some involved in organized crime.

Former Liberal MP Serge Marcil organized the 2008 event. The former vice-president of Groupe SM died in a building collapse when an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010.

In recent testimony at the province's corruption inquiry, engineer Michel Lalonde, identified SM as one of the companies who took part in a collusion scheme.

However, there is no evidence that Marcil was aware of the alleged arrangement that saw political donations swapped for municipal contracts.

According to Radio-Canada, representatives from engineering firms were present at the cocktail party along with two people with links to organized crime.

Sources told Radio-Canada that one of the two men was Louis-Pierre Lafortune. He was charged with laundering money for Normand Ouimet, a member of the Hell's Angels.

Lafortune was also charged with gangsterism. Both charges were laid a year after the cocktail party.

Sources told Radio-Canada that Lafortune attended the fundraiser because he wanted to meet Fournier.

The same sources said he was only able to greet Fournier, but was not able to speak with the minister at length.

Fournier said he does not remember speaking with Lafortune and does not know him.

"We didn't screen the people we met, whether it was during a fundraiser, or on the street, or at the party's general meetings. We don't screen the buildings we are in," said Fournier.

Mark Bruneau, the owner of the condo who once ran under the Federal Liberal Party banner, has hosted several political fundraising events for parties, including the Federal Liberal Party and the Coalition Avenir Québec.

He also told Radio-Canada he does not know Lafortune.

Bruneau said Tremblay's comparison of the building as a bunker for organized crime is disappointing.

"It's disheartening that there could be undesirable people in a luxury building. I hope police have done their job and caught those that needed to be caught," said Bruneau.

Radio-Canada has the SQ has handed over information from their investigation into the fundraising event to the Charbonneau commission.

It is unclear whether the findings will come up during the inquiry's public hearings.