05/16/2013 10:06 EDT | Updated 07/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Mulcair explains meeting with embattled ex-Laval mayor

In a written statement, federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says he met with the embattled former Laval, Que., mayor Gilles Vaillancourt in 1994.

Vaillancourt has been the subject of investigations by Quebec's anti-corruption unit and appeared in court last week to face 12 charges, including conspiracy, fraud, influence peddling, breach of trust and gangsterism.

French language newspaper La Presse is reporting that Mulcair was targetted by the former mayor. The article says Vaillancourt offered Mulcair an envelope and said he could help him. It goes on to quote Mulcair as saying he did not see the contents of the envelope but was certain it contained money.

At the time Mulcair was a Liberal member of Quebec's national assembly, representing the Laval riding of Chomedey.

A statement issued today by a spokesperson for the NDP leader says Mulcair put an end to the 1994 meeting immediately and recounted the events to police investigators two years ago.

The Mulcair statement says he will not elaborate since Vaillancourt is before the courts.

In an emailed party memo, Conservatives slammed Mulcair for having "kept this sordid affair to himself for seventeen years" and pointed out that he denied having ever been offered a bribe in 2010. Tories accused him of issuing his statement on a day when "he felt the media would be distracted by other stories."

"Thomas Mulcair could be called before the Charbonneau Commission to explain his (in)action," the memo said.