Quebec corruption squad head promises action

Corruption squad leader Jacques Duchesneau said short-term measures are being taken to address allegations of backroom deals and organized crime links in Quebec's road work industry.
Jacques Duchesneau, left, will appear before a National Assembly committee next week. He met with transporation minister Pierre Moreau, right, in advance of that appearance. (CBC)

The author of a leaked report detailing corruption in Quebec’s construction industry broke his silence Friday morning, saying the problems are grave, but not insurmountable. 

Jacques Duchesneau, head of the anti-corruption squad, said measures will be taken on a short-term basis to immediately address the allegations of backroom deals and links to organized crime described in his report.

"We faced crisis before [and] I think we can beat a system that’s been implemented," he told a press conference at the transportation ministry’s Montreal headquarters.

Duchesneau met privately with Transportation Minister Pierre Moreau Friday morning, but neither would discuss the outcome of those talks.

"There are things that need to be done and this morning the meeting that we had was quite clear on this," Duchesneau said. "I was convinced after this meeting that there’s a life after this report. There’s a life that will go on and measures will be taken."

The transportation ministry itself was implicated in the leaked report, which stated it was complicit in the practice by some road work companies to artificially inflate costs and pocket the difference. 

Duchesneau said he was "annoyed" that along with the public’s outrage at the report’s findings came an assumption that everyone in the transportation ministry and the industry is corrupt.

He said solutions would come from within the ministry, because they’re the people who know how to quickly solve the issues outlined in the report.

Moreau said the ministry is taking the allegations seriously, but would not discuss any of the actions it is taking within. He said those details will be released at a later date.

"We are serious in what we want to do to make sure those actions will be fruitful and that good people will be able to work where they have to work and that bad people will be put out of the system," he said.

Duchesneau has been summoned to appear before the National Assembly’s public administration committee on Tuesday, where he’ll likely face hours of questioning from MNAs.

"The report is just a first step – it’s a stepping stone to something else," he said.

"Measures will be taken and I’m convinced we’re heading in the right direction right now."