Montreal

Evidence of stonewalling wiped from USB, ex-Transport investigator claims

A USB containing information about irregular practices within Quebec's Ministry of Transport was doctored after it was handed over to ministry officials, a parliamentary committee heard Wednesday night.

Annie Trudel tells MNAs that Transport officials were tasked to discredit her findings

Former Transport Ministry analyst Annie Trudel told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that officials in the department set out to "demolish" her findings. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

A USB key containing information about irregular practices within Quebec's Ministry of Transport was doctored after it was handed over to ministry officials, a parliamentary committee heard Wednesday night.  

The documents on the USB were prepared by Annie Trudel, a former investigator who had been hired to look into allegations of corruption, collusion and intimidation at Transports Québec. 

In a highly anticipated appearance before the Committee of Public Administration, Trudel told MNAs she had compiled a list of emails testifying to the lack of cooperation she faced from civil servants as she probed the allegations. 

Those emails were included on a USB, which she gave to the office of Transport Minister Jacques Daoust when she quit in frustration in April over her stalled investigation. 

That USB key was eventually handed over to the province's anti-corruption unit after its existence was made public. Last week, the Committee of Public Administration forced the unit to hand over the USB key in a closed-door session. 

​'It's no longer there'

Before testifying Wednesday evening, Trudel had the chance to consult the contents of the USB key that had been given to the committee. 

Missing from the key were the emails she had compiled during her 18-month tenure at Transports Québec.

"I conserved all the emails from the files I was working on," she told the committee.

"And it's no longer there. All the proof that there was obstruction in the ministry in relation to my work were in those emails."

Trudel also said that during her time as an investigator for the transport department, she received information from another employee that a team had been formed to discredit her work, part of an attempt to prevent her contract from being renewed in the summer of 2015. 

"An employee of the ministry informed me that the deputy minister, and assistant deputy ministers, were waiting impatiently for my report," Trudel told the committee. 

"A team had been formed, people had the responsibility to demolish my report ahead of my renewal."

The deputy minister, Dominique Savoie, was removed from her post last month after Trudel's resignation letter became public. 

In it, Trudel wrote that top officials in the department sabotaged and stonewalled her investigation.

Other 'irregularities'

Trudel appeared before the committee alongside Louise Boily, a former internal auditor at the transport department, who brought her own stunning allegations. 

Like Trudel, Boily told committee members that she too had reports dealing with irregularities in the department altered without her approval.

Boily, moreover, said she had repeatedly raised concerns about how the department awarded contracts to Savoie.

That came as a direct contradiction to Savoie own's testimony before the committee. In an appearance shortly before she was fired, Savoie said she had never heard about any issues with her department's contracting practices.  

"I don't share Ms. Savoie's point of view," Boily said. "I told her on several occasions about irregularities, about all sorts of problems in the management of contracts." 

When Boily and Trudel wrapped up their testimony, they were given a warm round of applause by the members of the committee. 

with files from Ryan Hicks

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