FTQ members try to unseat boss Arsenault over Hells links

Links made at the Quebec corruption inquiry tying the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) to the Hells Angels have some federation members trying to unseat President Michel Arsenault.

Arsenault is running for re-election as head of the FTQ labour union

Michel Arsenault is the head of the FTQ and is up for re-election next month. A former member of the FTQ, Ken Pereira, has testified before the Charbonneau commission that Arsenault knew about his organization's ties to the Hells Angels. (Radio-Canada)

Links made at the Quebec corruption inquiry tying the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) to the Hells Angels have some federation members trying to unseat President Michel Arsenault.

Former FTQ insider and Charbonneau commission star witness Ken Pereira has been testifying about close ties between senior members of the federation and the Hells Angels.

The FTQ is one of the most powerful union federations in the province, representing 70,000 workers.

Pereira said Arsenault was aware of the links but did nothing to stop them.

He testified that members of organized crime fixed the 2008 election for the union’s executive, saying that he saw bikers circling the polling station.

He said one of Arsenault’s opponents in that election suddenly dropped out, later telling Pereira that he was forced to pull out by Jacques “Israël” Émond, a powerful member of the Hells Angels.

Next month, Arsenault is up for re-election and is running unopposed. That has prompted at least two union locals from the affiliated Canadian Union Of Public Employees to introduce a motion trying to force Arsenault to step down.

But Michel Parent, the president of the affiliated Montreal blue-collar workers’ union, supports Arsenault.

The only thing Arsenault has done wrong was to admit being on the boat of Tony Accurso, for which he already apologized, said Parent.

Accurso, a former Quebec construction boss,was arrested in April 2012 in a sweep by Quebec's anti-corruption unit (UPAC) and faces a string of charges, including fraud, conspiracy, influence-peddling, breach of trust and two counts of defrauding the government.

Parent said the two groups within the FTQ attempting to unseat Arsenault represent only 13 per cent of the CUPE’s FTQ-affiliated members — far from the majority.

Besides, he said, the allegations against Arsenault are unproven.

Pereira’s testimony was interrupted this month after falling and incurring a head injury. He is expected to reappear on the stand Oct. 28.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.