MONTREAL — Corruption and collusion in Quebec are far more prevalent than originally thought, says the Quebec judge who oversaw a lengthy probe into the province's construction industry.
"This investigation confirmed there was a real problem in Quebec and that it was broader and more deeply rooted than we believed,'' France Charbonneau said in a statement Tuesday as she delivered her final report.
"This finding shouldn't discourage society. On the contrary, the very creation of the commission and the collaboration of many people benefited it, proving that Quebec is ready to do whatever it takes to protect its values of integrity and the public interest.''
Charbonneau's report contains some 60 recommendations she hopes will help clean up the system of handing out contracts.
"No single law or measure will be enough on its own to overcome this phenomenon (corruption),'' she said. "The collaboration of everyone is primordial. Only collectively will we able to make Quebec a better society, where ethics, integrity, honesty and rigour are at the forefront.''
Charbonneau recommended better protection for whistle-blowers as well as public consultations on whether the number of mandates for municipal politicians should be limited.
"Whistle-blowing must not be perceived as an act of betrayal but as an act of loyalty toward society,'' Charbonneau said.
She did not take questions or grant interviews after the statement.
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest created the Charbonneau Commission in 2011 after months of intense public pressure, sparked in large part by various exposes by investigative journalists on the construction industry and its ties to organized crime and the financing of political parties.
The inquiry heard testimony over 30 months, beginning in the summer of 2012.
Witnesses described how some construction companies had links to organized crime and that the widespread collusion benefited political parties and corrupt bureaucrats.