MONTREAL – Quebec’s anti-corruption agency has reportedly opened ten files investigating contracts related to the province’s transport department.
Former Transport Minister Robert Poëti allegedly flagged a series of irregularities, including the way public contracts were awarded.
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He hired analyst Annie Trudel to look in to certain activities he thought could be linked to corruption; she said she was confronted with resistance throughout her entire 18 months at the ministry.
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In a resignation letter, Trudel said her work was hampered, and in some cases even “sabotaged” by senior officials.
Thursday, Premier Philippe Couillard said current Transport Minister Jacques Daoust‘s chief of staff will be replaced.
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Deputy transport minister Dominique Savoie also offered to step down after allegations of mismanagement appeared.
“I’ve decided that the following actions be taken: Mme. Savoie has offered to leave her post, which of course, we accepted,” said Couillard.
“A new deputy minister will be designated. We have also decided we would create, at the Ministry of Transport, similar in structure to what we have created by law for the City of Montreal, an Office of the Inspector General.”
Poëti was demoted in January during the cabinet shuffle in order to, according to Couillard, make room for more women and young people.
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“It’s three months ago and I have the meeting with the premier and I don’t doubt what he said,” said Poëti.
“He wanted more women and more young people and more people from different areas. I believe him. This is what he told me and I don’t doubt.”
Allegations of mismanagement
Quebec’s L’actualité magazine reported that Poëti had discovered transport employees were being intimidated by their superiors and embarrassing cost overruns on public projects were hidden.
The magazine also reported that former employees were given no-bid contracts worth slightly under $25,000 — the legal limit that triggers a call for tenders.
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Daoust said he forwarded a USB key to Quebec’s corruption agency with documentation he received from Poëti.
“I think the best thing to do with perception is to be transparent,” he said after making the documents available to the public.
“I want to be very transparent.”