Parties bag lucrative illegal donations: inquiry
Published Tuesday, June 19, 2012 3:51PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 19, 2012 9:21PM EDT
Former top cop Jacques Duchesneau continued his jaw-dropping testimony at the Charbonneau Commission Tuesday, making staggering allegations about political funding in Quebec.
Duchesneau testified that 70 per cent of the money used by Quebec's provincial parties comes from outside registered donations.
Jacques Duchesneau, a former Montreal police chief and civil servant, said the problem is just as bad at the municipal level.
He shared one anecdote that one municipal party was so awash in cash it literally could not close the door on its safe.
He declined, however, to name the party in question.
"This is a report that I call ‘Illegal funding of political parties: a hypocritical system where influence is for rent and decisions are for sale,"' he said, referring to a 50-page stack of notes. "It's a title that summarizes what I wanted to tell you," said Duchesneau.
The system appears well organized, according to Duchesneau. He said that political organizers demand donations from engineering firms. These firms, in turn, inflate invoices for work being done on public projects.
He estimated that, during his investigative research over the last three years, he found as many as 50 engineering firms submitting false invoices in Montreal alone.
The inquiry is exploring corruption and Mob ties in Quebec's construction industry, a sector that has close links to representatives at all three levels of government.
Duchesneau also spoke at length about "extras," additional fees that companies charge the government after a contact is awarded. According to the testimony, two companies, Nielson and EBC specialized in finding "extras" and asked for 10 per cent commission for doing so.
Nielson is owned by Franco Fava, who makes frequent and large donations to the Liberal Party.
The start of the commission was delayed on Tuesday morning due to new documents being presented at the inquiry. The commission's prosecutor, Claude Chartrand, told the gathered commissioners that new documents were brought to him and he needed to study them before deciding whether to table them for consideration.
Later on Duchesneau clashed with Denis Houle of the Association of Road Builders, who said that Duchesneau's prior naming of three specific construction companies could lead to a civil lawsuit.
But Duchesneau replied that he had no choice but to testify as instructed by the commission.
The issue of immunity from possible civil suits resulting from the testimony has yet to be clarified.
Duchesneau said that some specifics of his testimony would have to remain vague, as some information was provided on the promise of anonymity.
"People are afraid," said Duchesneau. "Remember the context in which we did our investigation. We were powerless, trying to convince people to talk to us. Some people volunteered to talk and we don't want to betray those who helped."
The former Montreal Police Chief said that he understood the delicateness of the situation.
"I've testified before courts for 44 years. Yesterday was the most difficult I've had because we have information and want to work with the commissioner but there are restraints," he said.
Duchesneau's onetime assistant Annie Trudel added a correction to her previous testimony, retracting the names of Doncar and CJRB which she said shared some ownership. But upon further research, the information was incorrect.
With files from The Canadian Press