Accurso set to appear as Charbonneau Commission resumes
Published Monday, September 1, 2014 12:51PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 1, 2014 6:37PM EDT
MONTREAL - The Charbonneau Commission will resume its hearings on Tuesday after summer recess, expecting to hear from at the outset from former construction boss Antonio Accurso.
The former head of Simard-Beaudry and Louisbourg Construction will be compelled to appear before Justice France Charbonneau and Commissioner Renaud Lachance at the the construction industry commission, after he had applied unsuccessfully to different courts to try to avoid the matter.
The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the request last month.
Accurso argued in court that appearing before the high-profile hearings would jeopardize his right to a fair trial in pending criminal proceedings.
Accurco's lawyer indicated last week, however, that his lawyer would file a motion for an order banning publication of his testimony. The request will be argued before his testimony proceeds. No request of this kind has been granted thus far in the Charbonneau hearings.
The commission has promised Accurso it wouldn't ask him about his current cases before the courts.
Instead, it wants to hear about his relationship with the FTQ construction union, where he faced potential conflicts of interest for decades. Former FTQ president Michel Arsenault was a close friend of Accurso.
The commission also wants to hear about his ties with the FTQ Solidarity Fund, which financed many of Accurso’s projects. Management said Accurso had his say on who received financing and who didn't.
The commission wants to ask him about many controversial contracts on the island of Montreal, where he had privileged access.
He'll also be asked about provincial contracts and his involvement in political fundraising campaigns at the provincial and municipal level, as well as possible influence peddling. Witnesses have already testified to the matter.
Accurso will also asked about his ties to organized crime figures.
Finally, Accurso has already been asked to provide a list of everyone who vacationed on his luxurious yacht.
Several politicians and union leaders already admitted to using it free of charge.
The inquiry, which has been studying the construction industry and the awarding of public contracts, has already heard from more than 100 witnesses since it came into existence in 2011.
At the adjournment of the hearings for the summer in June, Justice Charbonneau had mentioned that there were 'about two to three weeks' of examination of witnesses before proceeding to the final work of the committee stages. After hearing witnesses relay the facts, the inquiry will hear from representatives of organizations related to the inquiry.
A total of 72 briefs have already been submitted to the commission. Some are arguing for better protection for whistleblowers, including the extension of certain rules of supervision in the construction industry, such as licences, permits and authorizations standard to other related industries such as towing, hazardous materials and waste management.
With files from The Canadian Press and La Presse Canadienne