Quebec launches construction corruption inquiry

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Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest on Wednesday announced the creation of a commission of inquiry into alleged corruption in the French-speaking Canadian province's construction industry.

Charest ceded to pressure from the public and opposition lawmakers, which had mounted after the leaking of a confidential report suggesting ties between some construction firms and government employees.

The report by a provincial anti-graft unit did not name any particular companies, but pointed to evidence that businesses were banding together to keep prices high -- and possibly had links to organized crime.

Charest had repeatedly insisted that a police probe was sufficient, but angry citizens took to social networks to vent their anger and staged protests.

The independent commission of inquiry will be headed by France Charbonneau, a judge on Quebec's Superior Court.

During her two-year mandate, Charbonneau will be tasked with looking into the activities over the past 15 years of construction firms handling government contracts, and any possible illicit financing by political parties.

The commission has been tasked with offering suggestions on how to keep the industry clean in the future.

© 2011 AFP

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