Inquiry hears majority of Montreal’s sewer contracts were rigged
Published Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:39AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 23, 2012 2:47PM EDT
Shocking testimony continued Tuesday from a former City of Montreal planner who said the wide-spread collusion in Quebec’s construction industry was well-known at city hall.
Gilles Surprenant took to the stand for a third time at the Charbonneau Commission to describe how sewer-system contracts were fixed in favour of certain building companies.
Surprenant admitted last week to accepting $600,000 in bribes over his 20-year career with the city. He returned $122,800 to the inquiry in August, saying he gambled away and used up the rest.
Speaking calmly and with a clearer memory than he'd exhibited in the first two days, Surprenant said the majority of 91 public works contracts he helped plan between 2000 and 2009 were rigged and that he was compensated each time.
Surprenant testified that he received kickbacks from construction bosses ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. At least twice, he pocketed about $22,000. He also said he received a number of tropical holidays, expensive meals and concert and hockey tickets.
Lawyers from Union Montreal will be given the opportunity to question Surprenant after the city’s ruling political party was granted participant status at the Charbonneau Commission. Justice France Charbonneau ruled that lawyer Michel Dorval can only ask Surprenant questions concerning contracts within the city of Montreal and on party financing once his testimony is complete.
Surprenant’s earlier testimony had sparked a rowdy city hall meeting on Monday, where opposition councillors said Montreal’s Mayor Gerald Tremblay has done nothing about the alleged corruption during his 11-year tenure.
Tremblay has refused to step down, saying Montreal’s opposition parties are also tied to the corruption scandal. Specifically, he pointed to former Vision Montreal leader Benoit Labonte, who stepped down following accusations that he accepted money from construction mogul Tony Accurso.
With files from The Canadian Press