According to both Conservative party sources in Quebec and comments by Julie Couillard, Bernier's companion until earlier this year, the real estate agent and former model was sounded out about her interest in running for the party in 2007.
Though it appears she was never formally interviewed or vetted by the party's candidate recruitment committee in Quebec – the members of which have since been replaced – sources say Couillard was contacted by a former party organizer of her acquaintance who asked if she'd be interested in running.
"There are people in the party who know her quite well and sounded her out," said a Quebec Tory.
[I]n an English-language interview on the Quebecor-owned Canoe website – a French-language equivalent was aired on the TVA network in Quebec on Monday night – Couillard alluded to meeting Bernier last summer through an unnamed "business acquaintance" who was arranging a dinner with the then-industry minister.Heh...:)
"A couple of weeks before that, the Conservative party actually approached me and asked me if I was interested in becoming a candidate ... and (the acquaintance) said, `You should come tonight, because a minister will be there and you can pick his brain,'" she said.