Monday, June 29, 2009

Maxime Bernier Exposed: The Rest of the Story

When it was first learned that Maxime Bernier left sensitive NATO documents in the home of his former girlfriend, Canadians were shocked at his carelessness.

They were even more shocked when they learned that this former girlfriend had ties with the Hell's Angels.

From Wikipedia:

Bernier came under even more intense scrutiny after the media discovered that his girlfriend had past romantic links with members of the Hells Angels.

Although the Prime Minister initially dismissed this as irrelevant, Bernier was ultimately forced to resign, when it was revealed that he had left sensitive briefing notes for a then-upcoming NATO meeting at Couillard's house after having broken off the relationship.

Foreign Affairs was apparently unaware that NATO briefing papers were missing for five weeks. Couillard returned the package to Foreign Affairs on the advice of a lawyer, and went to the media. The Liberals and the NDP are calling for a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigation into possible security breaches, including Bernier's. Bernier consequently resigned from Cabinet on 26 May 2008, though he retains his seat in the House of Commons.

As with so many other things this government does, there is far more to this story then the mainstream media was willing to cover. Or maybe they just preferred the sensationalism of a cabinet minister dating a biker chick, and nothing else really mattered.

Either way they did not do their job.

Questions surround Bernier's former girlfriend
Woman who dated minister was once married to outlaw biker
May 08, 2008
Sean Gordon in Montreal
Allan Woods in Ottawa

Tongues first wagged over Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier's striking companion at last summer's cabinet swearing-in, and Parliament Hill is buzzing anew with revelations she was once married to an outlaw biker and lived with another gangster murdered during a bloody turf war in the 1990s.

The divorced Bernier, 45, first began dating former model and aspiring actress Julie Couillard, 38, during the summer of 2007, and the pair caused a minor furor with her revealing attire at last August's cabinet ceremony. According to newspaper reports, officials in the Prime Minister's Office admonished Bernier over her choice of outfit.

A spokesperson for Bernier said the minister is no longer involved with Couillard, and another government official warned against drawing conclusions over her past associations.

But that didn't stop the opposition parties from questioning the judgment of a cabinet minister they clearly see as politically vulnerable, given recent missteps on the Afghanistan file.

According to documents, trial transcripts and newspaper archives, Couillard was romantically involved with two men with strong ties to the Hells Angels biker gang, La Presse reports.

In 1995, Quebec's elite anti-biker squad stormed the house Couillard shared with her then-boyfriend Gilles Giguère, a well-known underworld figure, in a pre-dawn raid.

Couillard was questioned in connection with a murder and extortion plot allegedly involving Giguère, a Hells Angels lawyer, and a Montreal loan shark named Robert "Bob" Savard, key lieutenant to jailed Hells Angels kingpin Maurice "Mom" Boucher.

After a long interrogation, she was released, later filing a complaint to the provincial police commission. She talked of her ordeal in a 1996 interview with Allô Police, a now-defunct Montreal crime tabloid.

Couillard lived with Giguère for three years beginning in 1993, until he decided to become a police informer after being arrested with a cache of machine guns and 20 kilograms of marijuana.

But Giguère was gunned down in April of 1996, before his trial could begin. Police discovered his body in a ditch east of Montreal.

The next year, Couillard began dating Stéphane Sirois, another gangland figure who would later become her husband.

Sirois was a member of the Rockers, a Hells Angels puppet club that biker experts say was responsible for taking over drug territories in and around Montreal and eliminating the Hells Angels' competitors.

Sirois later admitted to being a member of a Rockers "baseball team" – who intimidated rivals with baseball bats and smashed up bars that refused to allow the gang to deal drugs – and testified against more than a dozen of his former associates in a 2002 mega-trial.

During that testimony, Sirois contended Boucher had presented an ultimatum: he had to choose Couillard or his gang. He chose the former, but after their 1999 divorce, Sirois became a police informant, and returned to the gang as a mole.

The circumstances of how Couillard met Bernier are unclear, but the two reportedly holidayed in the Caribbean in 2007. Couillard was seen on Bernier's arm as recently as February, at a gala in Ottawa.

When reached by La Presse, Couillard declined to answer questions and hung up the phone.

The newspaper and other Quebec media outlets have been investigating Couillard's past for several weeks, and it was the subject of television and radio reports yesterday.

There is no suggestion Bernier was aware of her ties to the criminal underworld, which seemingly ended with her divorce in 1999. Neil Hrab, a spokesperson for Bernier, dismissed inquiries about the allegations. "This is a private matter," he wrote in an email.

In Ottawa, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said he had no independent confirmation of the allegations, but what he had heard caused him concern. "Certainly, Mr. Bernier needs to explain because we want to know if there were any matter of national security involved," he told reporters.

Allegations of this sort are particularly grave considering Bernier's responsibilities, Dion said.

The suggestion that Bernier wasn't aware of her past is either ludicrous or overly cautious. He was the minister for foreign affairs and everyone connected with him would, or should have had extensive background checks. However, the rest of the story reveals why he was allowed to date her despite her past(?).

I'm breaking it down in several related articles.

More Postings on Maxime Bernier

1. Michael Fortier and Why a Fund Raiser Should Never Head up Public Works

2. Maxime Bernier Would Have Joined a Great Family

3. Was Maxime Bernier a Mere Puppet?

4. Bernier's Ex Scores Huge Government Contracts in SECURITY!!!

5. RCMP Knew That Couillard Posed a Security Threat to Bernier

6. Couillard`s Ex Warns Bernier 'Stay Away From Her' But Too Late

7. Bernier's Ex Also had Ties to the Montreal Mafia

8. Bernier Exposes Truth About Drugs and the Afghan Mission

9. Bernier Exposes Truth About Drugs and the Afghan Mission

10. Stockwell Day, Maxime Bernier, and the Call Girl

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