Ontario's top mob cop testifies at corruption commission
Published Thursday, September 20, 2012 2:54PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 20, 2012 8:03PM EDT
The Charbonneau commission has heard from its last witness for the week.
Mike Amato is the top mob investigator in Ontario, and he spent Thursday discussing the inner workings of the Mafia in Toronto.
He said that Ontario's Mafia is part of the Calabria family, while Montreal's crime syndicate is controlled by Sicilians.
However in both cases he said the day-to-day business operations are similar: men in suits working 9 to 5 jobs, appearing to be upstanding members of the community.
Amato said Mafia associates include every level of the business comunity, from bakers to bankers, from bus drivers to lawyers.
Mobsters often operate companies – in such fields as construction, excavation, trucking -- simply to help launder their dirty money. As a result other companies can’t compete.
“I can undercut you when I want to go do a job,” he said. “Instead of bidding $5,000 I can bid $2.000 because I'm just cleaning my money, I don't really need a profit on that job.”
He suggests that bid-rigging can be repaired by better oversight of the awarding of contracts.
“We should do background checks, we should be investigating people who are doing our work, who are working for us.”
Amato said these businesses can be spotted by looking at their track record when it comes to bidding on public projects, which is a pattern that can be spotted by an organization in charge of overseeing contracts.
"If someone had simply asked or had sent the request to a police service or to an oversight body for example and if there was some reporting, I'm not saying it would prevent that deal going through but it might make people aware that there is some type of issue," said Amato.
Martin Patriquin, the Maclean's reporter who shocked Quebecers two years ago with an article saying that corruption has deep roots in this province, said the Charbonneau commission is detailing how organized crime works before getting to specifics.
"It's sort of like a funnel, they're just going down and down until they start getting to witnesses in Quebec," said Patriquin.
He also hopes the Charbonneau commission will approach one of the sacred cows of Quebec that was already touched upon by star corruption cop Jacques Duchesneau.
Patriquin pointed out that Bill 101 drove away many businesses from Quebec, and left the door open to corruption.
"The companies that stayed made a commitment to work in French and basically set up an oligarchy.Everything is owned by seven or eight companies," said Patriquin.
Competing with businesses that have such deep pockets makes it very difficult for fair competitors to enter the marketplace.
It also affects the mobility of workers from the rest of Canada who would otherwise be willing to work in Quebec.
"It's very difficult for workers from Ontario or Alberta to come here to work. Not the reverse," said Patriquin.
He expects that when the Charbonneau commission is done, there will be political will to make changes, unlike in the past.
"There wasn't the political will for the Cliche report," said Patriquin. "The PQ came in with the help of the unions so there wasn't the will to deal with it."
He said this time is different.
"Most of the unions... including the FTQ wanted a public inquiry," said Patriquin.
The Commission will hear applications on Friday from groups that wish to testify, or intervene, at the hearing. Witnesses resume testifying on Monday.