Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel
There’s more going on in the Julie Couillard and Maxime Bernier story. It turns out Julie Couillard’s ex-boyfriend’s security company, DRP, was awarded a contract in 2006 by Quebec’s public security ministry. Click here for CBC’s article. Robert Pépin, who had ties to organized crime and a criminal record, owned the company, while his father, Denis Pépin, a retired police officer, ran it. (Robert Pépin committed suicide in 2007 while apparently in serious financial debt to the Hells Angels). Robert Pépin was Ms. Couillard’s boyfriend in the early 1990s. On a side note, Neil tells me that there’s something organized crime call “suiciding”, which is that the victim appears to have committed suicide; whereas, in fact, the person was murdered. Nice. Thank goodness for those shoot ‘em up, bang ’em up movies! I learned me somethin’!
Anyway, “So, what?” you ask. Well, according to a Globe and Mail article, DRP Investigation and Security Services bid on two airport security contracts, and met with the Canadian Airport Transport Security Agency – CATSA – in 2004. Julie Couillard, Robert and Denis Pépin and senior officials with CATSA met to discuss the contract. It was a “courtesy” meeting, according to a spokesperson for CATSA, and DRP wasn’t awarded the contract. However, the head of CATSA at the time, Jacques Duchesneau, and who was at the meeting, had worked closely with Robert’s Pépin’s father on the Montreal police force, and had helped set up the anti-biker task force called Wolverine.
An exclusive interview was done with Couillard’s ex-husband Stéphane Sirois, by the Globe and Mail’s journalist, Julian Sher. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available for free to read on the Globe’s site, but thankfully a blogger copied and pasted it and put it here. Look for “If I didn’t marry you, you’d be dead” posted on June 6, a little ways down the page. The link to the original article is here, if you want to pay for it. Now granted, the guy is a former criminal and police informant, so in the end, it’s hard to know what the truth is or what to believe. But what’s interesting is that he alleges Couillard was already familiar with organized crime circles, and met him at a known biker hang-out. She was young at the time, and as I said, was already familiar with the scene. Here’s another interesting article detailing some of her involvement as a possible police informant.
According to an article in the Montreal Gazette, sited here in the Guelph Mercury , in the early 1990s she apparently dated Tony Volpato who allegedly had ties to the mafia. Here’s some info on him from the National Post. What was a young girl in her early 20s doing with a guy like him? Who knows. Did she know who she was dealing with? Maybe, it’s possible, I would say even likely. She might have been a little naïve at the time, as all young people are, but also aware and learning, as all young people are.
Then there’s the matter of Julie Couillard’s father, who was arrested at a grow-op (Globe and Mail story here) that she might have had something to do with, although she was never directly implicated; and, there’s the convoluted real estate dealings she had with her brother, father, boyfriend and banker. For info on that little tid-bit, click on this link for a pdf from a June 14 Globe and Mail article.
The image that’s emerging of Julie Couillard is one of a beautiful, motivated woman, who was involved with motivated men who were involved directly or indirectly to organized crime.
And the media is eating it up. Probably because she has great assets.
But what about Bernier? Here’s what I know: Bernier, then-minister of Foreign Affairs, had been at a NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, in April, 2008. He returned home, went to his ex-girlfriend’s and left classified documents at her house for five weeks. What did those documents contain? We’ll probably never know, but an article in the Embassy Magazine speculates. The National Post’s blog has an opinion on Bernier’s blunder: National Post blog. No matter what, Maxime Bernier got involved with someone who has had connections (and possibly still does) with organized crime. The person who introduced them was Philippe Morin, according to La Presse, cited in this article on thestar.com. Morin is one of two owners of the Kevlar Group, a Montreal property development firm of which Julie Couillard is an affiliated agent. He and some friends apparently wanted to set Bernier and Couillard up, and brought her to a dinner held in Bernier’s honour by “a handful of young Montreal business people” who meet weekly at a swank Montreal restaurant called Cavalli. What is the relationship between Morin and Bernier? Who are the members of this dinner group?
What do we know about Bernier? This is as much as I’ve been able to figure out, so far: Bernier is from Beauce, Quebec, and is a lawyer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and a law degree from the University of Ottawa. He is a Conservative. He was elected to the House in 2006. According to Wikipedia, he’s a businessman and a lawyer, and a “former vice president of the Montreal Economic Institute, a Quebec think-tank advocating smaller government. He was regarded as belonging to the libertarian wing of the party.”
We know an awful lot about Julie Couillard, and very little about our own government official. What’s his past? Who has he hung around with? Does he have direct or indirect ties to organized crime, besides the government (please see my past post)? Okay, he does now, in the buxom beauty that is Julie Couillard. Babe-o-licious Julie is a much easier target than Max, it would seem, which is why the media and the opposition is after her more. And maybe that’s why politians are playing it safe, only puffing themselves out and beating their chests for dramatic effect; after all, there are others in the House who probably have the same connections as Mad Max, and God forbid those connected should be exposed too, thus implicating them in who-knows-what.
What a tangled web we weave. I’d love to read a clever and thoroughly researched article by a sharp journalist who could untangle some of this mess. I hope someone looks a little deeper into Bernier’s past and affiliates. They might discover that, although Couillard ain’t no wallflower, Ol’ Max baby has a thing or two going on as well that flies under the radar.
Pondering the preposterous political puddle