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Justice France Charbonneau heads a Quebec inquiry looking into allegations of corruption in the province's construction industry. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
Justice France Charbonneau heads a Quebec inquiry looking into allegations of corruption in the province's construction industry. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Quebec corruption probe to take break for election Add to ...

Politicians heading to the election campaign trail in Quebec won’t have to worry about being blindsided by unexpected revelations at the Charbonneau commission.

The public inquiry, which has been looking into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry, is taking a break now that Premier Pauline Marois has called a provincial election for April 7.

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Public hearings will resume the morning after the vote.

“Being totally apolitical and independent, we don’t want to risk that our hearings could be dragged into the political arena,” the inquiry said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“Elections are the touchstone of democracy and the commission does not want to influence the electorate in one way or another.”

The communiqué said the decision was made jointly by the inquiry’s president, Justice France Charbonneau, and her fellow commissioners, Roderick Macdonald and Renaud Lachance.

Both the Liberals and the Parti Québécois have been embarrassed at some points by testimonies at the inquiry or by the ongoing work of anti-corruption police investigators.

Police executed search warrants at the headquarters of the Liberals last summer following allegations of illicit financing.

Meanwhile, Ms. Marois, the PQ Leader, had to deny that she and her husband, Claude Blanchet, were too cozy with the FTQ-Construction trade union, whose leaders had links with organized crime and entrepreneurs accused of fraud.

As he opened his campaign Wednesday, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard was asked by a reporter if he was relieved that the inquiry would go in abeyance.

“I never saw it that way,” Mr. Couillard replied. “I’ve told Quebeckers that we won’t just hear things about our party but about other parties as well.”

 

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