Montreal

Independent committee pushes for follow-through on Charbonneau recommendations

A group of lawyers, professors and political figures has created a non-partisan committee to track the implementation of recommendations from the Charbonneau commission report.

Committee of lawyers, professors and volunteers will issue independent report

The first report from the public committee will be released on Nov. 26, 2016. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

A group of lawyers, professors and political figures has created a non-partisan committee to keep track of whether the recommendations from the Charbonneau commission's report are being implemented by the province.

The committee will be helped by volunteers, including half a dozen people who carried out research for the Charbonneau commission.

The group is worried that the 60 recommendations to prevent corruption schemes from developing within the construction industry and illegal party financing, released last November, are not being acted upon.

In a letter made public today, the group said in the days following the release of the commission's final report, the focus was on individual blame and the disagreement between co-commissioners France Charbonneau and Renaud​ Lachance, rather than on the many recommendations to prevent corruption and collusion.

Martine Valois, a law professor at Université de Montréal, said the Couillard government has been dragging its feet.

"In March 2016, they said at a press conference that they are studying the recommendations," she told a news conference.

"That leads us to ask when the study on a study will end."

What's worse, said members of the committee, is that it's unclear which recommendations the government considers a priority. 

"At some point we need to do something," said lawyer Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon. "The purpose [is] to get the government to tell us exactly which recommendations have been implemented and on which recommendations we're working, so we can do a follow up." 

His colleague, political science professor Denis Saint-Martin, said the government has political reasons to keep quiet about the recommendations. 

"The government is certainly not enthusiastic about it because each time it has to implement a reform, it's kind of a reminder, a red flag, to the electorate: 'Remember we were corrupt before, and that's why we need to do this,'" Saint-Martin said. 

He added that the goal is to get the public more involved in following the results of the Charbonneau commission's work, rather than simply leaving the work to politicians and bureaucrats.

Frequent updates promised

The committee will release its first report on how well the inquiry's recommendations are being implemented on Nov. 26, to mark the first anniversary of the Charbonneau report.

It also intends to release updates every six months after that.

The group is also requesting financial support from Quebecers in order to ensure it stays afloat.​ It has set up a website to keep the public informed of its findings, through which the public can make donations.

The public committee is formed of the following members:

  • Luc Bégin, professor at l'Université Laval and director of the Institut d'éthique appliquée.
  • ​Peter Dent, president of Transparency International Canada.
  • Gilles Ouimet, former Liberal MNA and president of the Quebec Bar.
  • Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon, lawyer and columnist.
  • Peter Trent, mayor of Westmount.
  • ​Denis Saint-Martin, professor in political science at the Université de Montréal.
  • Martine Valois, law professor at the Université de Montréal​.

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