Quebec's corruption inquiry – with its propensity for bombshell testimony that sometimes turned the Quebec political and business landscape on its head – has heard from its last witness.
The high-profile probe completed the testimony portion of its public hearings quietly on Thursday with witness No. 189, a Hydro-Quebec forensic accountant.
The low-key windup was a contrast to what many considered the high point of the commission, the recent – and long-awaited – testimony of former construction mogul Tony Accurso. He insisted he didn't cater to organized-crime figures or woo politicians for favours on his yacht.
The commission chaired by Justice France Charbonneau now enters a consultative phase before a final report is submitted next April.
A little over two years after it heard from its first witness in June, 2012, the inquiry's impact on the province is palpable.
Then-premier Jean Charest, who was under pressure to create the inquiry, ordered it in 2011 to examine corruption in the construction industry and its ties to organized crime and political parties.
The inquiry's chief counsel took a few moments on Thursday to remind people of the commission's mandate, which was to get to the bottom of allegations of corruption related to the awarding and management of public contracts, to look into schemes and to provide solutions on how to combat the problem.
In her address, Sonia LeBel also appeared to make a subtle response to critics who complained that certain big names, former premiers such as Mr. Charest, Pauline Marois and Bernard Landry, had not been ordered to testify.
"The commission is independent and free of all outside influence," Ms. LeBel said.
Ms. LeBel, who wouldn't meet with journalists Thursday, said the commission's team of lawyers and investigators put forth sufficient evidence to identify various corruption and collusion schemes. She said they showed the infiltration of organized crime in the industry and how all of that spread to political party financing.
The highest-ranking former politician to appear was Nathalie Normandeau, a former cabinet minister and deputy premier. Julie Boulet, a former Liberal transport minister who still sits in the legislature, also testified in May.
Testimony heard over 26 months left some reputations tattered, had other people find themselves out of work and at least one long-time politician forced out of office.
Former Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay, faced with damning commission testimony from a former party aide, quit his post in November, 2012 after three terms as mayor.