Whistleblower confirms Quebec election run
Published Sunday, August 5, 2012 12:05PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 6, 2012 5:02PM EDT
Prominent anti-corruption whistleblower Jacques Duchesneau has confirmed he will run in the Quebec election, putting widespread speculation about his candidacy to rest.
Duchesneau was introduced Sunday as a candidate for the new Coalition for Quebec’s Future.
The former Montreal police chief dominated headlines last fall when he leaked a scathing report about corruption in Quebec’s construction industry to the media.
In a message posted to Twitter on Sunday, the CAQ quoted Duchesneau in French as saying that the party would battle corruption and restore public confidence.
“I’ve changed my name to Do-Say-No,” Duchesneau told reporters at a press conference to announce his candidacy. “Do-Say-No to corruption.”
Duchesneau is expected to be a boon to the third-place Coalition for Quebec's Future, which has pledged to take Premier Jean Charest and his Liberals to task on issues related to corruption.
The Liberals hired Duchesneau in 2010 to investigate allegations of dishonesty in the construction industry. The report claimed construction industry insiders had been conspiring with political parties and criminal groups to drive up the cost of public works contracts.
Duchesneau has defended his decision to leak the biting 88-page report, saying he was worried the ruling Liberal government would ignore his findings.
His methods were scrutinized during a public inquiry into corruption in the construction industry, dubbed the “Charbonneau Commission” after Justice France Charbonneau.
The commission began a summer-long recess in June and is expected to resume in September. It’s unclear whether Duchesneau’s recently announced political ambitions will affect the inquiry.
Duchesneau has kept a second report, which is rumoured to be even more scathing, under wraps, and said Sunday he has not revealed its contents to CAQ Leader Francois Legault.
“We have the best guy to make sure that we don’t have any corruption in Quebec,” Legault said Sunday.
Legault also said Duchesneau will be appointed deputy premier if his party wins the election.
For his part, Charest has defended his government’s record, rating his party an eight-out-of-ten when it comes to fighting corruption.
"I have no hesitation in saying that this is the grade we get, that the work we did is substantial,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Charest also said it is too soon to tell what impact Duchesneau’s entry into the race will have.
“We’ll debate with him as we’ll debate with others,” Charest said. “What effect it will have in the campaign, my strong view is that in the end Quebecers are going to vote very much based on the question of what kind of society they want to live in.”
Even before Duchesneau formally tossed his hat into the ring, it appeared that the CAQ was going to great pains to chip away at Charest’s track record on corruption.
Days ago, Legault proposed a package of measures aimed at ending “corruption and waste” in government.
Part of his proposal involves tightening rules on lobbying and the funding of political parties, as well as ensuring protection for employees who might become workplace whistleblowers.
Some have noted that the effort resembles Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Accountability Act, but Legault denies that he was inspired by or attempting to mimic the federal legislation.
Meanwhile, Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois did not comment on Duchesneau’s candidacy. Reports suggest the PQ courted Duchesneau to run, as Marois also aims to make corruption a top issue during the campaign.
PQ MNA Bertrand St-Arnaud said Sunday that Duchesneau “didn’t choose the good team.”
The riding of St-Jerome has long been a Parti Quebecois stronghold. One man told CTV Montreal that Duchesneau is “not the guy that’s going to help me get my country here, Quebec.”
However, another woman said that, “He’s not afraid to say what he has to say, and I think that’s a good thing for Quebec.”
The Quebec vote is scheduled to take place on Sept. 4.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Camille Ross and files from The Canadian Press