POLITICS
12/06/2011 06:42 EST | Updated 02/05/2012 05:12 EST

Port Of Montreal Corruption Case Closed: Conservatives

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OTTAWA - The Conservative government said the case is closed in an ongoing controversy over corruption in Montreal, even as reports emerged Tuesday that the RCMP has launched an investigation that could reach into the Prime Minister's Office.

The Globe and Mail and Radio-Canada quoted unnamed police sources who said the Mounties are investigating allegations of corruption around the appointments process at the Montreal Port Authority, a federal body.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former aide Dimitri Soudas has acknowledged that the government indicated a preference for Robert Abdallah as president of the Montreal port board, as did the City of Montreal.

But during the spring election an audio recording surfaced purporting to be the voices of two Montreal construction executives discussing how Soudas and his friend Leo Housakos could help get Abdallah appointed in 2007. Housakos, who is referred to as "Leo" throughout the recording, was appointed to the Senate in 2009.

The two executives, Tony Accurso and Bernard Poulin, have never commented directly on the recordings other than to underline that making recordings of private conversations without the consent of the parties is against the law.

"I'll start talking to (Housakos), if you want, if he's ready to put his buddy Soudas in the business. His buddy Soudas, he can twist arms harder than anyone else," Poulin says in the recording to someone cited as Accurso.

He refers to Soudas as the "real boss of Quebec," as opposed to the former Conservative lieutenant for Quebec Lawrence Cannon.

The NDP and the Liberals raised the issue during question period.

"The prime minister's entourage are in it up to their necks: Dimitri Soudas, for Leo Housakos, with Bernard Poulin and Tony Accurso, tried to faciliate the appointment of Robert Abdallah to the Port of Montreal," said interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel.

"Can the prime minister confirm that there was political pressure and threats made by his entourage?"

Harper responded that the Port Authority's board selects the president, and that's precisely what they did