All posts tagged Quebec construction industry scandal

A growing need for change

The papers have been filled with accountability stories. Or rather, the lack of it in the face of obvious corruption or mismanagement.

From Quebec, the stories are all about the construction industry corruption inquiry. This has been brewing for months, and almost died. Premier Jean Charest, who had been taking the heat for a while – what with his $75,000 second salary form the Quebec Liberal Party, paid for by who knows whom – was starting to breath easier. He was even rumoured to be considering an election.

But then a new report was leaked, and it was damning. It linked organized crime to construction and argued that even the financing of political parties was corrupt.

Charest tried to keep resisting an inquiry, but people were having none of it. There was even a growing protest. So he tried to do the next best thing: formulate an inquiry which would be toothless, one where there would be no power to subpoena witnesses.

This is a classic cover-up tactic, frequently used after whistleblowing.

But again, the public was having none of it. Perhaps, as one pundit said, Quebec is a cow that has been milked too long and too hard, and is getting ready to kick the farmer.… Read the rest

Leaked report on Quebec construction industry corruption shows sickness in the system

The latest revelations from Quebec are sure to kill Premier Jean Charest’s not-so-secret plans to call a snap Fall election. There had been much speculation about the possibility given his recent surge in the polls, something which arose because of chaos in the ranks of his opponents.

But the leaking of portions of a report on construction industry corruption have probably killed his dream of sneaking in another mandate.

The report appears to draw a direct link between organized crime, the Quebec construction industry, bureaucrats, and even political parties. This level of corruption is the kind of thing one expects to see in Third World countries, or Italy – not Canada. But let’s be honest – we always knew that Quebec was special case with this kind of thing. The first time it drew national attention was during the run-up to the 1976 Olympics, after all.

But the implications of this report are quite staggering, when you think about it. Here’s how it appears to work: organized crime controls the construction industry. It uses its usual methods to ensure that its businesses win contracts, at a 30% mark-up (that’s about $4 billion a year). It then uses the profits to bribe officials (elected and non) to get more contracts, as well as funnelling significant chunks to political parties of all stripes.… Read the rest

Jean Charest, the best politician of a generation? I don’t think so

I’d just like to start with a note to all readers that Canadians for Accountability now has a Twitter feed. You can find it at http://twitter.com/#!/C4A_NewsComment.

For today’s post, I’d like to comment briefly on a small story that ran last week. It seems that former Conservative minister Lawrence Cannon thinks that Quebec Premier Jean Charest is the best politician his generation. That’s an interesting statement not just because its such a huge and sweeping judgement, but because it says something about

a)       how he measures quality, and

b)      what he thinks about his former boss, Stephen Harper.

On the first count, Cannon is saying that success in winning elections is the only metric that matters. That might be fine to politicians, but I don’t think many Quebecers feel that way.

Charest has persistently refused to hold a public inquiry into what are very obvious links between construction companies (some controlled by criminal organizations) and government contracting. These connections are probably responsible for the abnormally high costs for infrastructure in the province, and can only be interpreted as corruption.

He cast more suspicion on himself by accepting for many years a second salary from the provincial Liberal Party.… Read the rest