As the head of Quebec’s anti-corruption squad showed off a year’s worth of arrests and raids on Wednesday, he didn’t even try to hide his relief.
A year ago, Robert Lafrenière was under tremendous pressure for failing to produce immediate results with his months-old Unité permanente anti-corruption (UPAC). Quebeckers were confronting daily allegations of outrageous corruption, and were howling for justice.
Mr. Lafrenière smiled when reminded of last year’s difficult media event, now that UPAC raids, arrests and fresh investigations have hauled high-level politicians and millionaire entrepreneurs into the courts. The work has also toppled at least three municipal mayors, including Montreal’s Gérald Tremblay. (The arrests have yet to yield any convictions, it should be noted.)
At the end of 2011, the investigators in Mr. Lafrenière’s unit lacked desks and telephones and had yet to make an arrest. Quebec’s corruption inquiry had not yet begun hearings, and weekly news reports were exposing a bewildering array of fresh allegations.
“We had just started. We barely existed. It was a new unit, a new structure,” Mr. Lafrenière said in an interview.
“We’ve made considerable progress.”
The number of search warrants executed: Nine targeted the former mayor of Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt, who has stepped down but has not been charged.
The number of current investigations. In several cases, Crown prosecutors are analyzing whether to lay charges.
Construction sites under surveillance by UPAC as a preventive measure.