09/27/2011 07:55 EDT | Updated 11/27/2011 05:12 EST

Public Inquiry 'Urgent' For Quebec Building Industry

Flickr: scazon

The head of Quebec's anti-corruption squad is calling for "urgent action" to tackle collusion in the construction sector.

Jacques Duchesneau appeared Tuesday at an administrative legislature committee, to flesh out his squad's findings after a year-long investigation.

After meeting with more than 500 people through the course of the investigation, it became clear that money laundering, bid-rigging, political kickbacks and organized crime are an inherent part of Quebec's construction sector, said Duchesneau.

But the industry can be rehabilitated, he said — ultimately through a full-scale inquiry behind closed doors.

Only a full-scale inquiry can restore public faith in the system, Duchesneau said.

But it has to be held behind closed doors, Duchesneau insisted, to ensure anonymity for people who risk speaking out.

Construction industry 'not normal' on many levels

During his appearance, Duchesneau revisited the squad's findings first published in a report leaked to media earlier this month.

"It's not the report" that is devastating, he said — "it's the reality it reflects."

In his half-hour introductory declaration, he used the phrase "not normal" repeatedly when describing aspects of the province's construction industry.

He accused Quebec's Transport Ministry of acting as a "subcontracting master" that grants too much supervisory power to engineering firms that oversee contracts.

The ministry also suffers from "critical" management problems, he said.

Duchesneau's report said groups like the Mafia and bikers not only use construction companies to launder money, but also act as enforcers for favoured firms.

Calling organized crime leaders "vultures," Duchesneau said they are also endemic in the world of political fundraising, and no party is immune.

Duchesneau fielded several questions from committee members on his squad's methodology, mandate and evidence.

He was tight-lipped about threats directed at him during the investigation.

He refused to name names, calling the incidents "intimidation" and said he didn't file a formal complaint.