"The Godfather" Takes a Quebec Twist as Corruption Scandals Surface

If Michael Corleone had any part in the construction scandals that have been surfacing in the province during the Charbonneau commission, surely he would be more careful with whom he had ties, and Copolla would have wiser casting than possible involvement to the government.

However this is not a film, this is Quebec’s current reality. Within the past two weeks former FBI agent Joe Pistone testified at the commission behind a television screen with his identity hidden. He shared his own knowledge on organized crime after successfully cracking down on the Bonanno Family, which reportedly had ties to the Rizzutos in Montreal. His name may not be familiar, and for valid reason- during the 1970s he went under the alias ‘Donnie Brasco’. Later on his story was adapted into a film starring Al Pacino.

Yesterday even more shocking allegations rose to find how deep the conflict has grown to be. Lino Zambito, a former construction-company vice-president for Infrabec, has testified that Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s party Union Montreal had been receiving 3% from major city public-workers contracts.

The opposition party demands Mayor Tremblay’s immediate resignation. At the moment, municipal contracts in construction have been suspended, putting approximately $75 million worth of contracts on hold.

Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Richard Deschamps, after a private meeting with Mayor Tremblay, said that the halt would give Premier Pauline Marois a chance to look into the anti-corruption law Bill 35. However should there be emergencies around the city there will be no hesitation for maintenance, otherwise new contracts are out of the question for the time being.

Construction companies would, according to Zambito, manipulate the bidding process of city contracts for their profit.

At the moment, there is no valid reason Mayor Tremblay would resign, since the commission is awaiting for more allegations by other witnesses throughout autumn. One of them is Coalition Avenir Quebec member Jacques Duchesneau, who spent his time playing former Premier Jean Charest by withholding names in his first testimony.

As the story continues to unfold by the minute, one has to wonder how deep the conflict runs, or who could have possibly closed their eyes to let such corruption be unnoticed. One also has to wonder where else in Canada this has spread.

Yet in a place where women’s rights are threatened by abortion debates, and refugees can only get medical care during an “emergency”, it is clear there is much we have to discover.