Quebec’s anti-corruption fight sparks interest in other provinces
Published on Wednesday December 19, 2012
MONTREAL—Quebec’s fight against corruption has sparked the interest of authorities in other provinces looking to root out fraud and similar illegal activities, says the head of the province’s anti-corruption force.
Robert Lafrenière, who leads a team of police investigators, prosecutors and tax inspectors under the banner of the Unité Permanent Anti-Corruption (UPAC), said he has fielded calls from others interested in how his squad operates.
The interest has spiked after a busy year that included 49 arrests, including two small-town mayors, and another 22 ongoing investigations, one of which prompted the resignation of the long-serving mayor of Laval last month.
“There have been certain questions in some instances to see how we operate,” he said in a year-end news conference. “I see in the media, like others, that there are provinces that deny they have corruption in their province.”
Lafrenière’s comments are a veiled reference to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty who, following a joint investigation by the Toronto Star and Radio Canada about Mafia activity in Ontario, said he has never been warned about the kinds of contract rigging, extortion and collusion that has taken Quebec by storm.
“I’m not here to evaluate that, but what I know from the work we do is that it exists everywhere in the world,” Lafrenière said.
The corruption squad plans to branch out in 2013 to make better international contacts with the goal of learning how to spot tactics used by organized criminals in other countries so they can be quickly shut down when they appear in the province.
Lafrenière referred to the discovery of a “new stratagem” in one of the ongoing investigations, but would provide no details.
“When we conclude that investigation we will explain.”
Quebecers have received a crash course on corruption in the three months since the Charbonneau Commission began hearing witnesses, primarily about illegal activities at the municipal level, including Montreal and the suburban communities north of the city.
And the wall-to-wall news coverage of the inquiry, which has heard from corrupt bureaucrats, construction entrepreneurs and political organizers, has helped UPAC fulfill its mandate to investigate the problem throughout Quebec.
“Citizens look at it and after that they call and give information because they know it’s similar to what they see,” Lafrenière said. “Since September … the calls we receive have significantly improved.”
The hope is that the knowledge of a permanent anti-corruption force on constant vigil will deter those who think they can outsmart the authorities.
Lafrenière referred to it as the photo radar effect, which he said has worked wonders for traffic on major highways.
“We put some radar so that people go slowly, and drivers don’t know if there are police officers there or not, but all the traffic now is okay,” he said.
“It’s the same thing with corruption . . . . People know that we are there and it’s on a permanent basis, and they know that if they try to corrupt, if they try to fraud, we will be there to get them.”
Dan Cancade says, Quebec is probably the most corrupt province, but
we need a similar system in BC.
Frank Parenteau le Vrai says, First quebec is not a province but a
state ,you can even verify that behind your federal income tax declaration paper all province are there but not quebec .We do not have a ministere du revenu ,but we do have a private agency called Revenu Quebec.In fact the corruption is controled by Le Barreau du Quebec .L’assemblee national du quebec is not even recocnise by the constitution that WE DID NOT SIGN.To stop the corruption we need judges that are not in conflict of interest ,but it is impossible without a constitution.
Dan Cancade says, Same here in BC. When I ran as a Libertarian in
the last election, part of my platform was that we write up a proper constitution to limit the power of government.