NEWS
05/08/2014 02:27 EDT | Updated 07/08/2014 05:59 EDT

Guy Chevrette, ex-transport minister, testifies at corruption commission

A long-awaited witness, former Parti Québécois transport minister Guy Chevrette, took the witness box at the province's corruption commission today to address questions about the awarding of provincial contracts on his watch. 

His name has surfaced several times in testimony at the commission, particularly in connection with multi-million dollar roadwork contracts that were awarded while he served as minister.

No witness has told the commission they gave any bribes directly to Chevrette, however. 

Last year, a political fixer who worked for the engineering firm Roche testified before the commission that someone in the former transport minister's entourage demanded $100,000 to ensure his firm got access to the minister's office. 

Gilles Cloutier told the commission in May 2013 that his firm got a $30 million contract because he helped stack the selection committee that was reviewing the bids.

Cloutier said he never discussed money directly with Guy Chevrette, who was transport minister in the Parti Québécois government at that time.  

However, after the contract was signed, Chevrette named a paving firm that he wanted to work on the project, Cloutier said.

Chevrette denied the allegations and issued a statement calling Cloutier's claims, "false and defamatory." He said he was eager to testify before the commission himself to "restore the truth and thwart this attack on my reputation."

He demanded the opportunity to cross-examine Cloutier before the commission. That request was denied and later shot down again after Chevrette appealed to the Quebec Superior Court. 

Chevrette was first elected in 1976 and left politics in 2002. 

The commission, which has a broad mandate that includes municipal and provincial contracts, has recently been focused on the awarding of large roadwork contracts by the MTQ.