Former premier among growing list of politicians offered cash in Laval

Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête reports former PQ Premier Bernard Landry turned down a cash-stuffed envelope from a would-be donor in Laval in 1976.

Bernard Landry tells Radio-Canada's Enquête he told would-be donor, 'You're crazy'

Former premier Bernard Landry says he was offered an envelope of cash. 1:56

Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête has discovered that the practice of offering cash-stuffed envelopes to politicians in Laval dates back decades, with former a PQ premier adding his personal story to the growing collection.

Bernard Landry says in 1976, when he was the newly-elected MNA for the Laval riding of Fabre, an individual approached him with an envelope.

"He said, 'I want to help you in your politics,'" Landry recalled. "'Here's some money.'"

Landry told Enquête he turned the man down flat.

"'Are you crazy?'" Landry said he told him, adding with a laugh: "I might have added a 'Christ!' to that."

All these years later, Landry says he can’t remember who approached him or other precise details. 

The former premier was first interviewed about the envelope by Enquête last year.  Asked about it again this week, Landry said he believes the man was a former federal or provincial elected official.

Landry said he mentioned the incident to political colleagues, but he didn’t go to the police — noting the would-be donor didn't ask him for any favours in return for the envelope.

The incident also predated the Quebec's electoral-financing law, which was only passed by René Lévesque's Parti Québécois government the following year.

Landry said he suggested the donor offer his gift to an orphanage instead, and he said he received confirmation later that indeed, the donation was made to a charitable organization.

Another one-time politician who has shared his story with investigators is François Gaudreau, who was defeated in 2012 as the Coalition Avenir Québec candidate in the Laval riding of Ste-Rose.

Gaudreau said police have questioned him about envelopes, but he was never offered any.

However, he said after he won a seat in 2002 for l'Action Démocratique du Québec, a political organizer passed on a message, saying someone was willing to pay him.

"I didn't really understand at first," Gaudreau said.

The man told him there were businesses willing to pay him and ultimately help him get re-elected.

Gaudreau told Radio-Canada he turned the man down but didn’t judge it worth reporting to police.

Eleven years later, he said he no longer remembers who it was who approached him with the financial offer.