02/07/2013 12:17 EST | Updated 04/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Construction boss says political fundraisers were chance to network

Construction entrepreneur Giuseppe Borsellino told Quebec's corruption commission that political parties "sold" fundraising events as networking opportunities in order to attract more donations from the construction industry.

"They should have made the law in the 1800s, that someone working for the government, neither him or anyone in his family should contribute," Borsellino, the head of Garnier Construction, told the commission during his fourth day on the witness stand.

"We can still contribute to political parties, but we don't because we think we're in conflict …Because we are working for a government contract, and the political parties were probably using us to collect their funds."

Borsellino said he attended several cocktails as a means of raising his business profile. He said he was actively solicited by the political parties to buy tickets to the events.

"In reality, it was a political party business model to get some contributors to the party," he said of the events.

"Eventually, we stopped doing [it.] The reasons are because it's not ethically correct."

$10,000 donation

Borsellino said that he knew Union Montréal'sformer finance head, Bernard Trépanier, and occasionally saw him at events or when they both happened to be at the same restaurant.

He said he never gave Trépanier money or cheques.

Commission prosecutor Simon Tremblay addressed phone records which showed Trépanier and Borsellino spoke to each other five times before the 2005 municipal election.

Tremblay pressed Borsellino about those exchanges and what actually occurred during the conversations, suggesting that Trépanier was soliciting donations.

Borsellino said he couldn't remember, snapping at Tremblay that he was probably "too tired for this."

He told the commission that Martin Dumont, a former Union Montréal organizer who has previously testified before the commission, came to his home to pick up a $10,000 cheque from his company.

"That’s why he was probably calling me," Borsellino said, adding that he had forgotten about the donation until the commission refreshed his memory.

Borsellino said he was told he was allowed to make out a company cheque for the fundraiser, and it may have been related to a de-amalgamation event, a movement he supported.

RAW VIDEO: Heated exchange over $10,000 donation

Publication ban arguments

This afternoon, the commission is expected to hear arguments relating to the partial lifting of a publication ban that was imposed on the testimony of several witnesses who appeared at the inquiry over the past two weeks.

The publication ban applies to testimony concerning an east-end Montreal development project that is the focus of a criminal investigation.

The hearings will proceed behind closed doors until a decision is made on what portions of that testimony will be made public.