UPDATE: The NDP is demanding a cross-Canada probe into alleged corruption at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The call comes after The Globe And Mail reported that the RCMP is widening its probe into allegations that tax officials in Quebec accepted private sector bribes.
The RCMP is widening a probe into whether Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) officials took private sector bribes in exchange for favourable tax treatment in Quebec.
The investigation, which began in 2008, originally focused on Montreal, but the probe has been widened to include other Quebec CRA offices after allegations emerged that tax officials asked for kickbacks for services such as ignoring unreported income and giving special treatment on an audit, The Globe And Mail reports.
Some of the alleged bribed mentioned in RCMP search warrants include free home renovations, trips abroad and Montreal Canadiens tickets.
News that the RCMP probe is expanding comes amid increasing scrutiny of corruption in Quebec, particularly in the province's construction industry.
Last month, Premier Jean Charest was forced to call an inquiry into corruption in the province, a move he had long resisted. And after critics argued vehemently that the probe would not go far enough, Charest expanded the mandate of the investigation to give the judges in charge more power.
Whether the probe will help to improve the flagging performance of Charest's Liberals in the polls remains to be seen. Currently, Quebec's newest party The Coalition For Quebec's Future and its leader Francois Legault seem poised to topple the Liberals from power.
Quebec's construction unions seem unenthusiastic about Charest's recent moves to curb their power. Workers walked off the job for two days last week over legislation aimed at limiting union power. And the fight is getting dirty.
Quebec's Labour Minister Lise Theriault said an anonymous caller to her office threatened to break her legs and Guy Ouellette, chairman of a legislative committee studying the bill which led the unions to strike, reported having feces smeared outside his riding office near Montreal.
Theirault and Ouellette weren't the only victims amid the swirling corruption allegations in Quebec last week. Jacques Duchesneau, known as "Mr. Clean," the man who wrote the report on corruption in the Quebec construction industry which helped pave the way for the public inquiry, was fired last week. The Parti Quebecois said Duchesneau has clearly been let go from his position in the province's permanent anti-corruption unit for talking to much.