Jean Charest always claimed that Bellemare's allegations were full of crap, but since the Premier himself is no longer perceived as particularly trustworthy, his denial of the influence-peddling allegations, fell on the deaf ears of a jaundiced public, already battered by all sorts of scandals.
That being said, most experts agree that once Charest called the inquiry, it augured poorly for Bellemare, Charest knew full well what, or what not could be revealed. That is why to this day we don't have an inquiry into the construction industry.
In my last post about Bellemare, I warned that although he was riding high, with a whopping 68% of the public believing his testimony, he was in for a Humpty-Dumpty-like fall.
It happened Monday, as the wheels fell off the Bellemare express.
The two witnesses that Bellemare promised would back up his story, unequivocally denied the ex-Minister's story.
Michel Gagnon, Bellemare's former chief of staff, gave testimony that was so devastating, that Bellemare's lawyer jumped up and down with objection after objection, trying to break the momentum. At one point, he asked the witness if he was perjuring himself. The judge was not amused!
Gagnon testified that he never heard of, or saw any attempts to influence the appointment of certain candidates as judges, nor had Bellemare ever mentioned to him, anything about it. He was unequivocal about it.
As well, he directly contradicted other Bellemare testimony concerning the alleged influence peddlers, who Bellemare denied meeting with after he left office.
Gagnon told the inquiry that Bellemare did indeed meet with them in a Quebec city restaurant in an effort to raise money to fund his mayoral campaign. Link(French)
Jacques Tétrault, Bellemare's former press secretary denied that Bellemare never informed him of any inappropriate pressure being applied to the Minister, once again, in direct contradiction to what Bellemare testified, another crushing blow.
On Tuesday, the then deputy minister Michel Bouchard, delivered another stinging blow to Bellemare, indicating that he wasn't up to the job as Justice Minister and ran a 'tense' office. He became emotional when he described the way Bellemare removed Pierre Legendre from his longtime post in the Justice Ministry, all because his brother had been elected as an opposition PQ member of the National Assembly. Link(French)
To make matters worse, the commission is calling for an expert to look at the note Bellemare placed in evidence, one that he wrote in cryptic shorthand that purportedly documented his feelings about the so-called influence peddling. The suspicion among some commission lawyers is that the incriminating part, complaining about that pressure, was added to the note at a later date. LINK
The handwriting expert will testify today and tomorrow Bellemare is going to testify again at the commissions request.
For Bellemare it is likely a case of "Lucy, you got some 'splaining to do!"
The headlines and stories in yesterday's newspapers weren't particularly kind to Bellemare, even though he has enjoyed a somewhat free ride until now.
Montreal's Le Devoir daily, no friend of Mr. Charest, described the day's testimony as "dévastatrice," no translation needed. It also added that his two former employees "demolished his allegations"
Jean-Jacques Samson in the Journal de Quebec, described Bellemare as being "manhandled' and called the day's testimony a "demolition derby"
The only person rushing to Bellemare's defence was the PQ leader Pauline Marois who claimed that the commission was rigged against the ex-justice minister.
Trying desperately to cast aspersions on the testimony of the two ex-employees, she hinted at perjury cleverly, in that old tried and true backhand manoeuvre ; (I'm not saying he's lying but....)
"Obviously, we cannot accuse anyone of perjury.... but the evidence that both provided is very similar. The words were the same... " she analyzed. Link(French)If Bellemare doesn't counter the damage caused Monday, in his Thursday testimony, his goose is cooked.
He may as well start settlement talks in the $700k Charest defamation lawsuit that is looking more and more like a slam/dunk.
For Charest unfortunately, any vindication comes without political reward. Those who were convinced that Charest is a liar, won't jump back on his bandwagon. It's like being acquitted of child-molestation, the stink just doesn't wash off.
For some background information, see;