Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is calling on the Quebec government to hand over all of the money it plans to recover from companies that used corrupt practices to obtain publicly funded contracts from the city.
Appearing on Tuesday before a National Assembly committee examining legislation aimed at recovering money from the companies, Mr. Coderre argued that Montreal should be involved in all negotiations and lawsuits against those that defrauded the city and the province.
The bill proposes to set aside 20 per cent of the money retrieved to pay for the province’s legal fees. Mr. Coderre said all legal fees should be paid separately by the companies found guilty of corrupt practices.
“We are saying that if you want to put some money aside to recover the fees, we are saying that it should not be at the expense of the taxpayers. If they [the province] want to put money aside, then impose another penalty for those companies,” the mayor told reporters after testifying before the committee.
Mr. Coderre suggested that if the city could not get all of the money it is due, it could opt out of whatever court settlement the province may negotiate with the guilty companies and undertake its own court actions against them.
“We want a partnership [with the province] … but if it doesn’t work, the law allows for an opting out,” he said.
Mr. Coderre added that it is too early to determine how much money the city intends to recover. “It’s millions [of dollars], but our own people are already making studies regarding the money. … But in any negotiations [with companies], you ask for more but you always get less,” he said.
The mayor also proposed that the bill include a provision that would allow the government to take legal action against all employees, civil servants and past elected officials who were part of the widespread collusion and fraud in awarding of municipal construction contracts.
Recent testimony before the Charbonneau Commission into corruption in the construction industry unveiled widespread collusion, kickbacks and price fixing involving city officials and construction and engineering firms involving hundreds of millions dollars in municipal infrastructure projects.