06/04/2012 08:21 EDT | Updated 08/04/2012 05:12 EDT

Quebec corruption inquiry assesses potential participants

Quebec's corruption commission reconvened Monday morning to hear from nearly two dozen groups and individuals seeking standing at the construction inquiry.

The commission heard from 16 groups Monday, most of which want to formally participate at the inquiry, a status that allows certain rights, including the calling and cross-examination of witnesses. A minority simply requested to be considered intervenors, a lesser level of participation. Five individuals had also submitted written requests to participate, but did not appear before the commission Monday.

Included among those seeking participant status are several construction unions and associations, the Parti Québécois, and Mascouche Mayor Richard Marcotte, who is currently facing fraud charges.

Among potential intervenors are Quebec's Crown prosecutor and the City of Montreal.

Participants and intervenors must show 'real interest'

Established last fall by Quebec Premier Jean Charest, the Charbonneau inquiry will examine allegations of corruption in the construction industry and political party financing.

The commission is chaired by Justice France Charbonneau of Quebec Superior Court.

Interested groups and individuals had until May 28 to indicate their interest in participating at the hearings, and had 15 minutes to make their case before Charbonneau on Monday.

During her opening remarks in May, Charbonneau said status will be granted to those who can demonstrate a "real interest" in the commission's work, such as contractors and construction companies.

Charbonneau will decide which groups or individuals will be granted participant or intervenor status on Thursday. The commission will start hearing witnesses on Friday.

Among the first people expected to testify will be Jacques Duchesneau, the former head of Quebec's anti-corruption squad.