Citizens of all stripes need to keep an eye out for corruption, and reward those who blow the whistle on shady practices.

That's one of dozens of recommendations made by the inquiry into corruption that began four years ago.

Justice France Charbonneau said her lengthy report looks at corruption in many areas: not just cities like Montreal, Laval, and Terrebonne, but the criminal players including the Mafia and the Hells Angels, and specific projects that were rife with corruption, such as the MUHC superhospital and Quebec's Ministry of Transportation.  

"This inquest determined that we have a significant problem in Quebec, and that the problem is much wider and larger than anyone believed," said Charbonneau.

She added that fighting corruption was not done in vain, and that it can be uprooted and prevented.

"The collaboration of many people who profited from it shows that Quebec can succeed in defeating corruption."

She paused to thank specific witnesses, including noted ex-entrepreneur Lino Zambito and engineer Michel Lalonde.

"The work of all these witnesses was exceptional and priceless," said Charbonneau.

"They, and their families, demonstrated copious amounts of courage and determination to publicly reveal in front of witnesses the acts of corruption and collusion that they were part of, if not simply witness to." 

The inquiry showed how corruption could start with a seemingly innocent act of accepting gifts -- but spiraled into something far more serious.

"The witnesses also showed that the construction industry was infiltrated by the mafia. Cartels were formed and prevented other firms from making inroads into public contracts."

"Certain members of criminal organisations tried to take over legitimate companies in order to launder their money made from criminal activities."

Political parties were also vulnerable to corruption because of their seemingly insatiable need for cash.

"As one witness said, the political machines of today have become monsters," said Charbonneau.  


The Inquiry has 60 recommendations to stop corruption from taking over the construction industry.

They can be summed up in five key points.

  • Review the bidding and management process for public contracts
  • Increase monitoring of contracts, and sanction companies and individuals
  • Shield political party financing from influence
  • Encourage public participation
  • Improve public confidence in bureaucrats and elected officials. 

Charbonneau said the goal was to reduce the ability for anyone in power to make an arbitrary decision with regards to awarding contracts.

When it comes to public works contracts, the Inquiry recommends creating an independent body to make decisions about what should be pursued, "without any pressure, nor political considerations."

She cautioned that no law on its own will do the job, and that it is the responsible of all citizens to watch for corruption.

"The collaboration of all is essential. Only together that we can make Quebec a better society where ethics, integrity, honesty and rigour come first," said Charbonneau. 

The full recommendations are available on page 1397 of the Inquiry's report.

Four years of analysis

Charbonneau accepted the duty of leading the inquiry called by then-Premier Jean Charest in 2011.

Many findings of the corruption inquiry are well known, thanks to the public testimony.

Former construction company owner Lino Zambito explained how the Mafia oversaw a big-rigging cartel that determined which companies would win city contracts. In exchange, the Mafia received a cut of the inflated price of said contracts.

Other witnesses explained how engineering firms gave money to political parties by dodging laws banning corporate donations. Instead companies would reimburse employees and friends whose names were used to make donations.

The inquiry also examined how the Mafia infiltrated a major union in Quebec, the construction wing of Quebec's Federation of Labour, aka the FTQ-Construction.

Montreal's Auditor General described City Hall as a "perfect storm" of forces

During more than 250 days of public hearings spread over several years, the inquiry heard from corrupt company owners, engineering executives, politicians and bureaucrats.

In all 300 people testified before the inquiry, and more than 1,400 were questioned off the witness stand.

They exposed a widespread practice to artificially inflate the price of construction contracts, with kickbacks going to politicians, political parties, the Mafia and crooked bureaucrats.

The allegations made at the inquiry sank the careers of multiple engineers and company owners -- and of Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay, and Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.