QUEBEC - Legislature adversaries who have become Quebec's hottest new political couple found themselves in a heated spat at the national assembly on Tuesday.

Deputy Liberal premier Nathalie Normandeau and her boyfriend, Action democratique du Quebec member Francois Bonnardel, traded barbs over the alleged mismanagement of a public venture capital program designed to promote investment in the regions.

The quarrel stemmed from the controversy surrounding the regional investment fund, known as FIER, and allegations that the money was improperly diverted out of those areas.

The Liberals have accused the opposition parties of attempting to undermine regional funding through an elaborate smear campaign.

The Opposition Parti Quebecois launched repeated attacks on Normandeau, who is also municipal affairs minister. She lashed out at the ADQ and Bonnardel, who she accused of undermining economic development in league with the PQ.

Bonnardel was angered when informed of Normandeau's comments, saying, "That's completely false."

The spat came about two weeks after the couple officially made their relationship public.

Questioned about her comments, Normandeau said her relationship is separate from her political duty.

"And it doesn't stop me from being critical of positions taken by the ADQ on a multitude of questions," Normandeau said.

Bonnardel, who is the ADQ critic on economic development, defended his party's record and position.

"Listen, I'm doing my job and I will continue to do so like a professional," Bonnardel said.

Finance Minister Raymond Bachand has asked Investment Quebec's audit committee and the auditor general to examine the fund management and come back with recommendations in June.