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Too early for recommendations, Quebec corruption inquiry says

Justice France Charbonneau on the opening day of a Quebec inquiry looking into allegations of corruption in the province's construction industry.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The Charbonneau commission probing corruption in the Quebec construction industry says it is still too early to draw any substantial conclusions despite several months of public hearings.

In a short and concise interim report released on Tuesday, the commission explained that it has decided to abstain from proposing any solutions or making recommendations at this stage of the inquiry.

"You need a complete picture of the facts in order to provide solutions and recommendations. … Such a complete picture has not yet been made," the report said.

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The much-awaited interim report will probably disappoint many who have been closely following the hearings since the commission was created in the fall of 2011 to examine allegations of corruption in the province's construction industry. Excluding annexes, the report was only 13 pages long and gave little insight into how it will propose to eliminate corruption that has spread across an industry, public institutions and the province's political process.

The report noted that it does not yet have sufficient knowledge of what created the problem. "Identifying these causes requires a complex reflection that goes beyond what witnesses have given us in explaining their behaviour, as pertinent as that may be. This work has been undertaken but has not yet been completed," the report said.

The commission has heard testimony about how organized crime infiltrated the construction industry and corrupted the principles of democracy and free competition in the marketplace. It concluded that it will need more time to examine the process to provide lasting solutions.

For the next few months, the commission said, it will complete the public hearing process and eventually invite the public to participate. Experts have been asked to examine potential solutions that will be unveiled during the public hearings. A final report will be completed no later than April 19, 2015.

The commission warned that while it may not find solutions to all the problems facing Quebec on this issue, it hopes that it will act as a "catalyst for a public reflection" on the issue of corruption both in industry and in public institutions.

As of Jan. 10, the commission had heard 111witnesses over 151 days of hearings. The commission was ordered by the government to produce an interim report after it requested an extension of its mandate. It is estimated that the commission will cost $43-million.

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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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