by The Canadian Press
Former Quebec deputy premier to plead not guilty to fraud charges
Nathalie Normandeau is one of seven people charged in a scheme in which political financing and gifts were allegedly exchanged for lucrative government contracts
QUEBEC—Former Quebec deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau plans to plead not guilty to various fraud-related charges, her lawyer said Wednesday.
Normandeau is one of seven people charged in a scheme in which political financing and gifts were allegedly exchanged for lucrative government contracts between 2000 and 2012.
“It is still our intention to plead not guilty,” said her lawyer, Maxime Roy.
Normandeau was an influential minister who served as a Liberal member of the legislature from 1998 to 2011 and held key cabinet positions including municipal affairs, natural resources and Canadian intergovernmental affairs.
She served as deputy premier under Jean Charest between 2007 and 2011.
Defence lawyers in the fraud case will look at the evidence over the next few months before returning to court on July 5.
Crown spokesman Rene Verret says he would rather see a joint trial for the seven accused.
“The goal is to avoid holding seven preliminary hearings and seven trials with the inherent delays that would incur,” Verret said. “You also have to think of witnesses who will have to travel. Having one trial would help them.”
The accused, who were arrested March 17, face charges including corruption, fraud toward the government, conspiracy, breach of trust and using forged documents.
The others are Marc-Yvan Cote, a former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister; Bruno Lortie, Normandeau’s one-time chief of staff; Mario Martel and France Michaud, two former executives with engineering firm Roche; Ernest Murray, a former political aide to ex-PQ leader Pauline Marois; and Francois Roussy, an ex-mayor of Gaspe.