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Canadian ‘Mata Hari’ faces House

The woman who has been described as the “Mata Hari of the 450” (area code of capital Ottawa) for bringing down the foreign affairs minister will appear before a parliamentary panel this week.

world Updated: Jun 10, 2008 00:25 IST

The woman who has been described as the “Mata Hari of the 450” (area code of capital Ottawa) for bringing down the foreign affairs minister will appear before a parliamentary panel this week.

Foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier resigned last month after reports that his girlfriend Julie Couillard had past links to criminal biker gangs. What compounded Bernier’s (and the government’s) embarrassment were the revelations that he had left sensitive classified documents at her apartment where they stayed for five weeks before the woman returned them to the government.

Political parties seized on it, saying the minister compromised national security by leaving sensitive documents with someone with a criminal past.

The 39-year-old woman’s criminal past came to light early in May when a newspaper reported that she once married and divorced a Hells Angels biker gangster in the late 1990s and had a live-in relationship with the gangster.

Her former husband also told The Globe and Mail newspaper that she had links to a long list of criminals, some of whom he said carried out illicit deeds while living with her. She was also linked to a mafia member.

Experts say the Royal Canadian Mounted Police knew about Couillard’s past, but are not sure if they informed the prime minister when she attended Bernier’s swearing-in last August.