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Head of Quebec corruption probe requests deadline extension

Justice France Charbonneau questions retired City of Montreal engineer Luc Leclerc testifies before the Charbonneau Commission looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Monday, November 12, 2012, on this image taken off television in Montreal.


It may take another two years for the inquiry into corruption in Quebec's construction industry to complete its mandate.

The head of the commission, Justice France Charbonneau, on Monday requested an 18-month extension of her mandate.

Judge Charbonneau told the government she will need extra time to complete the inquiry hearings. The original deadline for her report was the fall of 2013. An extension would mean the final report would not be ready until April, 2015.

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The former Liberal government created the commission in the fall of 2011, and began hearing witnesses in May, 2012.

Since hearings resumed last September, most of the focus has been on the awarding of municipal contracts, including testimony that led to the resignation of Gérald Tremblay as mayor of Montreal.

The inquiry also heard that construction companies, engineering firms and organized crime figures conspired with municipal officials to fix prices for city infrastructure contracts.

The Charbonneau commission has only just scratched the surface of the allegations of collusion and corruption in the awarding of government contracts and the financing of political parties that it was created to examine.

It has yet to tackle provincial government contracts, which the former head of the Ministry of Transportation's anti-collusion squad, Jacques Duchesneau, has severely criticized. Mr. Duchesneau is now a member of the National Assembly for the Coaltion Avenir Québec party.

So far, the inquiry has cost $10-million to $12-million, according to Richard Bourdon, the commission's spokesperson. Mr. Bourdon projected that the cost during the hearings could be about $1-million a month.

The request for an extension will be submitted to the provincial cabinet on Wednesday. There was no indication whether Premier Pauline Marois will grant the request, or whether a decision will come this week.

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About the Author
Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More

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