Charbonneau Commission witnesses denounce cuts to Enquête
Radio-Canada television's investigative journalism program is cutting staff by 20 per cent
Two star witnesses at Quebec's inquiry into corruption in the construction industry are denouncing cuts to Radio-Canada's award-winning investigative journalism program, Enquête.
Radio-Canada is cutting 20 per cent of the staff working on the television program, which has been widely praised for its role in exposing corruption.
Enquête first named former construction boss Lino Zambito in a story on his alleged role in construction industry corruption.
The star witness early in the proceedings at the Charbonneau Commission shocked the province with tales of bribes, corruption and illegal political financing.
Zambito is now facing fraud charges. However, he said he's not bitter about Enquête's role in his downfall.
"I hope they continue doing that work. I know that with less staff it's more difficult, but I'm very surprised that CBC-Radio/Canada is cutting in their budgets," said Zambito.
Enquête is losing four of its 25 journalists, as a result of budget cuts and financial strain.
It's investigative reporting at its best. Without Enquête, I guarantee you there's no public inquiry in Quebec,- Ken Pereira, Charbonneau Commission witness
Ken Pereira was another star witness at the Charbonneau Commission, whose testimony exposed links between the Hells Angels and the Quebec Labour Federation.
Like Zambito, Pereira's story first appeared on Enquête.
"It's investigative reporting at its best. Without Enquête, I guarantee you there's no public inquiry in Quebec," said Pereira.
Pereira calls Enquête a “watchdog” that gives a voice to whistleblowers like him.
"They were the voice of those whistleblowers. They're the foundation of the truth," he said.
Pereira says he understands Radio-Canada has to make cuts, but he thinks the corporation should look elsewhere.
The political party Québec solidaire also released a statement criticizing the Conservative federal government for forcing cuts on Radio-Canada/CBC, saying downsizing the investigative journalism program is a blow to good governance.
"The Harper government claims savings by cutting the budgets… In fact, Enquête alone has saved tens of millions of dollars by uncovering corruption schemes,” wrote MNA Amir Khadir.
Radio-Canada has refused to comment.