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Message from the Chair
Greetings. I am Justice France Charbonneau and it is my pleasure to appear today to publicly announce the launching of the Commission’s website.
I also want to take this opportunity to inform you of the progress of our work to date.
But first, I would like to say how proud I am to chair this commission of inquiry after François Rolland, Chief Justice of the Superior Court, designated me and the government appointed me. My pride is enhanced by the presence at my side of two men with exceptional qualities who have agreed to sit with me. They are Professor Roderick A. Macdonald and Mr. Renaud Lachance, FCA.
Professor Macdonald is F.R. Scott Professor of Public and Constitutional Law at McGill University and is the author of a number of works in various legal fields. He has received numerous honorary awards in recognition of an extraordinary career in research.
Renaud Lachance is a Fellow of the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec, and holds a Master’s in tax from the Business School of the Université de Sherbrooke and a Master’s in economics from the London School of Economics, in England. Mr. Lachance was Québec Auditor General from 2004 to 2011.
Those are just a few of the professional achievements of these two outstanding men.
Let me briefly review the Commission’s mandate. It was created on November 9, 2011, when the Government of Québec adopted the Decree constituting the Commission d’enquête sur l’octroi et la gestion des contrats publics dans l’industrie de la construction (Commission of inquiry into the granting and administration of government contracts in the construction industry), in accordance with section 1 of the Act respecting public inquiry commissions.
To carry out its mandate, the Commission has retained experienced professionals and administrators who have all distinguished themselves in their areas of expertise.
Let me briefly introduce the team.
First, Lucie Latulippe, who has extensive experience in public administration. Ms. Latulippe has been appointed Secretary General and Administrator of the Commission. Next, we have recruited a team of highly respected lawyers, headed by Me Sylvain Lussier and Me Claude Chartrand, respectively Commission counsel and associate Commission counsel.
One of their first tasks was to draft rules of procedure governing Commission hearings. These rules are designed to ensure respect for the rights of the parties and witnesses, and the efficient management of a tight schedule.
Seasoned investigators and analysts have also joined the Commission. They come from various police forces and governmental entities. Inspector Robert Pigeon coordinates their activities and is Director of Operations and Investigations.
Geneviève Cartier, a full professor at the Faculty of Law of the Université de Sherbrooke, is the Director of Research.
Lastly, I wish to acknowledge our excellent support staff, a team that is fully dedicated to the Commission and is making a superb contribution to our work.
I now turn to the work we have been doing at the Commission. For the last months, our counsel and investigators have been working with government and para-government entities, municipalities and departments that award construction contracts. They have met with various stakeholders with a view of uncovering evidence of collusion and corruption schemes. They are also examining possible links with the financing of political parties. In addition, they are actively investigating the possible infiltration of organized crime into the construction industry.
In that regard, it is vital that everyone contribute openly, fully and without hesitation to our work. In fact, I take this opportunity to thank all the organizations and police forces that are collaborating with us. It is no accident that the Commission has recruited police officers who are still members of different police forces, as it is together that we will succeed in shedding light on the situation and discovering the truth.
This leads me to our website, which is being launched today and is now at your disposal.
You will find on the website much useful information, such as our organizational structure, a brief biography of some of our members, a description of our mandate, our contact information and our draft rules of procedure.
The rules will be adopted on March 30, after a period of public consultation.
I take the opportunity presented by the launching of our website to announce that Richard Bourdon is joining our team as Director of Communications. His main role will be to keep you abreast of the progress of our work.
Since this commission of inquiry was created largely as a result of public demand, we think it is useful and essential to enable you, as members of the public, to contribute to our work. You can do so by writing to our email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 1-855-333-CEIC (2342), a toll-free number available to you at all times to inform us of any anomaly or irregularity that may have come to your attention and that is related to our mandate.
The purpose of our general e-mail address and this toll-free telephone line is to enable you to participate to the Commission’s work. You can now leave us either a written message by email or a voice message by telephone.
If you become aware of dubious practices in the awarding or management of government construction contracts in your municipality, hospital, school or school board, a government department, a public or parapublic body, a government corporation or a private firm, it is of the utmost importance that you inform us as soon as possible.
If you suspect or have information that those bidding on such contracts are colluding to fix prices, to set aside territories for themselves, to take turns obtaining contracts or to exclude someone from a call for tenders; if you see that an elected official or a public servant has received a favour or an advantage from someone in the construction industry; or if you learn that a political party, be it provincial or municipal, has obtained financing linked to the awarding of construction contracts, contact us. Your identity will remain absolutely confidential.
If you have information that a criminal organization, whatever its affiliation, is involved in a construction business, tell us. Your complete security will be assured.
By informing us of these matters, you are helping yourself and you are helping us. Our mandate concerns a number of subjects covering a 15-year period. We are going to go on fact-finding missions all over Québec and your involvement can help us to avoid missing an important detail and to identify dubious practices observed in your region. That is why, wherever you are, in any Québec region, we ask you not to hesitate to contact us.
In addition, if you have studied the question or thought extensively about it, we invite you to submit the results of your research and share your ideas.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is together that we will examine the corrupt schemes and discover exactly how they operate. Together we will find remedies for them and make appropriate recommendations to prevent their recurrance.
I conclude this message by telling you that I am very satisfied with the progress of the Commission’s work to date.
We have not yet determined exactly when the hearing of witnesses will begin. However, I can tell you now that, in May, I will make an opening statement and in the following days we will hear motions from those who want to be recognized as participants or intervenors in our hearings.
Mr. Bourdon will keep you informed of future developments through press releases, which will also be published on our website.
In conclusion, I want to thank you very sincerely for your trust and for all your support.