Inspector-General will have 'a lot of power' under Bill 1
Concerns raised about new anti-corruption watchdog's ability to investigate criminal acts
Montreal's new inspector-general says he's confident the provincial government will amend legislation introduced yesterday to ensure he has the freedom he needs to take on corruption at City Hall.
The new legislation, called Bill 1, defines the powers of Montreal’s inspector-general to investigate cases of corruption, fraud and collusion in city contracts.
Denis Gallant, who was named to the position in February, expressed concern yesterday with a provision in Bill 1 that requires him to turn over investigations into criminal acts such as fraud and corruption to the provincial police’s anti-corruption unit, UPAC.
Gallant is a lawyer and member of the Charbonneau Commission with a long history fighting organized crime.
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“That’s not what I was hired for, and I don’t want to do that,” he told Mike Finnerty on CBC Radio’s Daybreak Friday morning.
“I’m going to work with UPAC, no problem, but UPAC is a police department and they have one goal and I have another goal,” he said.
He said the provision is different from an earlier version of the bill that was tabled by the Parti Québécois government last fall.
Gallant’s concern was echoed by Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre, who told CBC News that he was working with Quebec’s municipal affairs minister Pierre Moreau to fix the problem.
Gallant said he’s hopeful that the new legislation will be amended to give him the mandate he says he needs. If it’s not, he said he might have to reconsider accepting the job.
His hope was reinforced Friday by Robert Poëti, Quebec’s minister responsible for the Montreal region.
In an interview on Daybreak, Poëti said Gallant’s concerns are details that will be worked out.
“It’s nothing major at all,” he said.
Poëti described the legislation as an anti-corruption “firewall” around Montreal and said Gallant is going to have the power to investigate that he needs.
“He’s going to have a lot of power,” he said.
Poëti said the province and the City of Montreal are on the same page when it comes to the issue.
“Altogether we are working for one cause only — helping Montreal fight collusion and corruption,” he said.