27 March 2013. In his first day on the witness stand at Quebec’s corruption inquiry, Bernard Trepanier described his role in municipal elections where private companies illegally financed campaign bids.

Trepanier said that he was an organizer for municipal parties on the outskirts of Montreal and political parties got cash from companies. Meanwhile, he got cash from parties. And he would be listed as a volunteer organizer, while the payments he received were mostly undeclared and illegal.

The appearance by the man nicknamed Mr. Three Percent was one of the most anticipated since the commission began sitting last spring. Previous witnesses have identified the former director of finance for Union Montreal party as key to a collusion scheme that funnelled 3% of the value of municipal engineering contracts into party coffers.

When Trepanier went on to work for Union Montreal, he even got paid as a lobbyist from a big engineering company, Dessau Inc., at the same time that he handled fundraising for the party. Trepanier explained that the money from Dessau — about $100,000 a year — was for opening doors to contracts at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

The airport is federal property, and the inquiry declined to explore those contracts because its mandate is limited to the provincial and municipal levels.