Quebec’s new inquiry into construction corruption is requesting the public’s help, offering an email address and toll-free line where people can share evidence of wrongdoing.
In a videotaped statement released Feb 21, 2012, the commission chair said uncovering corruption is a job for all Quebecers. She promised that the identity of tipsters would remain anonymous.
“By informing us of these matters, you are helping yourself and you are helping us,” said Quebec Superior Court Justice France Charbonneau, who will head the commission.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is together that we will examine the corrupt schemes and discover exactly how they operate. Together we will find remedies for them and make appropriate recommendations to prevent their recurrence.”
She asked people to come forward if they are aware of:
- Dubious practices” in the awarding or management of government construction contracts.
- Collusion among companies.
- Political favours or bribes.
- Illegal financing of political parties tied to construction contracts.
- Illegal financing of political parties, linked to the awarding of construction contracts.
- The involvement of a criminal organization in the construction business.
”Tell us,” she said. ”Your complete security will be assured.”
Charbonneau said the inquiry will have its official launch with an opening statement in May. It’s unclear, however, whether the inquiry will begin hearing witnesses before fall. Charbonneau said no decision has been made yet about when hearings will begin.
That means that if Premier Jean Charest wants to call a provincial election before hearings begin, to avoid a replay of the steady drip of scandal that plagued the federal Liberals during the Gomery inquiry, he might be able to do so this spring.
Charest has begun the fourth year of his mandate and must call an election by late 2013.
The premier called the inquiry only under tremendous public pressure.
Charest spent two years resisting calls for an inquiry despite mounting evidence that criminal collusion involving organized crime groups like the Mafia drove up the cost of public-works contracts in Quebec.
There have also been allegations of corrupt money switching from the same criminals to the coffers of political parties.
Charbonneau says the commission will hold hearings in different parts of Quebec in an effort to uncover malfeasance in various regions.