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Quebec's corruption report will be taken seriously, author says

The head of Quebec's anti-collusion unit says he's confident his report on corruption in the construction industry will be taken seriously by the government.

Jacques Duchesneau says crooked civil servants, construction companies and criminal groups such as the Mafia conspire to drive up the price of public-works projects in the province.

His report adds that some of the illicit loot then makes its way to political parties.

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"The report describes the situation, which is worse than what I thought," Mr. Duchesneau told a news conference Friday, his first public appearance since the report was leaked to the media last week.

"But there are things that need to be done. And this morning the meeting we had was quite clear on this. Measures are going to be taken on a short-term basis."

He was referring to a meeting he had with Quebec Transport Minister Pierre Moreau, who also attended the news conference.

Neither Mr. Moreau nor Mr. Duchesneau said what the measures would be.

"The report is only a first step," Mr. Duchesneau added. "It's a stepping stone toward something else. Measures will be taken, and I am convinced that we're heading in the right direction right now."

The provincial government has already announced that 74 recent public-works contracts will be examined as a result of Mr. Duchesneau's report.

The contracts, which resulted in cost overruns, will be scrutinized by the Transport Department's internal auditors.

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The government is playing down the scale of corruption, saying there were cost overruns for only 3.2 per cent of the 1,528 contracts awarded by the government in 2010-11.

Mr. Duchesneau, a former Montreal police chief, will appear for several hours before a legislature committee in Quebec City on Tuesday

Before that, he will appear Sunday on the popular TV show Tout le monde en parle, which has already been taped.

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