Alleged fraudster Arthur Porter says he still considers Philippe Couillard a friend and he believes the Quebec Liberal leader would make a good premier.
Porter's biographer says he spoke to the jailed ex-hospital administrator last weekend about his personal and professional relationship with Couillard.
A transcribed copy of their telephone conversation was provided to The Canadian Press by biographer Jeff Todd.
In the conversation, Porter says assertions by Couillard that he fooled him were likely taken out of context and that he thinks the two men continue to have a healthy relationship.
For months, political opponents have launched repeated attacks against Couillard concerning his connections to Porter. The two set up a company together but the Liberal leader has said no business was ever conducted and that there were no financial statements before the firm dissolved in 2012.
Porter was arrested last year in Panama and faces fraud charges in Canada in connection with the awarding of a $1.3-billion Montreal hospital contact.
His prison-cell discussion surfaces at a particularly sensitive time for Couillard with less than a week to go before the Quebec election.
Porter claims he's done nothing wrong and is fighting his extradition to Canada.
Last week, Couillard was grilled extensively about his ties to Porter during the leaders' debate and he took issue with being mentioned in the same breath as the ex-hospital boss.
"He's someone I knew but to associate me in any way whatsoever with what he's accused of doing is unacceptable, unacceptable,'' Couillard said.
"I wasn't even around him when the contract was handed out.''
The Liberal leader and Porter were previously appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the committee that monitors Canada's spy agency.
Todd, who authored Porter's soon-to-be-published biography, said in an email that he released the transcript due to "an overwhelming demand.''
On Wednesday, CAQ leader Francois Legault took issue with Couillard's links to Porter. He said the Liberal leader must release the business plan he drew up with Porter.
"You don't register a company without having something in mind," he said. "What were they planning to do? How were they planning to make money?"
As for Porter's assertion that he and Couillard are still friends, Legault said, "With friends like that, you don't need enemies. Maybe it's a good opportunity to ask Mr. Porter about the business plan."