'Maxime knew' of biker ties, Couillard says

A former girlfriend of Maxime Bernier says he knew about her past ties to Quebec biker gangs from the beginning of their relationship last summer.

'I am definitely not a biker's chick': Bernier's ex

The woman at the centre of the controversy surrounding ex-foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier says he knew about her past ties to Quebec biker gangs right from the beginning of their relationship.

Julie Couillard is seen in this August 2007 file photo accompanying Maxime Bernier to a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. ((Paul Chiasson/CP))
In an interview aired Monday night on French-language network TVA, Julie Couillard also said she feels as if someone has been watching her since the scandal broke.

Couillard said she had security experts sweep her home and they told her a microphone had likely been planted in the seam of her mattress.

She also said Bernier did not press her on her past relationships, but seemed somewhat surprised when she told him last summer.

"Maxime knew about it," Couillard said during the interview, which was taped on Sunday.

Bernier resigned from his cabinet position ahead of the interview's airing, after informing Prime Minister Stephen Harper he had inadvertently left a classified document at an unsecured location.

Couillard, 38, said Bernier left the document behind when he visited her house sometime in April. She said she consulted a lawyer, who told her it was Canadian government property.

"The document was given back," she said.

She did not disclose what was in the document, but said it was addressed to Bernier and not to her, and it made her "very uncomfortable."

She added it was Bernier who picked out the infamous low-cut dress she wore to his cabinet swearing-in ceremony last August.

Couillard met Bush at UN

Couillard insisted she was doing the interview to re-establish her dignity and credibility after intense media scrutiny following revelations she had links to Quebec bikers. "I've never been accused of any criminal wrongdoing," she said. "I am definitely not a biker's chick."

Couillard talked about having tea with the prime minister's wife and meeting U.S. President George W. Bush at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

She said Bush approached Bernier and her in a corridor and, glancing at her, jovially told Bernier, "Well, well, well, haven't you been busy."

Couillard lived with Gilles Giguère, a well-known Montreal crime figure, for three years beginning in 1993. He was gunned down in 1996 when he decided to become a police informer after being arrested with a cache of submachine-guns and marijuana.

Couillard insisted that Giguère was not a biker and only knew Bob Savard, who knew Hells Angels kingpin Maurice (Mom) Boucher.

In 1997, she began dating and later married Stéphane Sirois, who admitted to being an enforcer for the Rockers, a Hells Angels puppet club. He later turned informant and testified against a dozen of his former colleagues in a 2002 trial.

During the interview, Couillard acknowledged Sirois was a biker when she met him, but said he left the gang at her insistence. Couillard and Sirois divorced in 1999.

With files from the Canadian Press