September 2, 2014 4:21 am
Updated: September 2, 2014 6:40 pm

Tony Accurso testifies at Quebec corruption inquiry

MONTREAL – Tony Accurso, once the owner of several influential Quebec construction companies, is appearing before the Charbonneau Commission after a failed attempt to avoid having to testify.

WATCH: Charbonneau Commission heating up

Accurso argued in court that appearing before the high-profile hearings would jeopardize his right to a fair trial in pending criminal proceedings.

He feared his appearance would taint potential jurors.

READ MORE: Accurso’s bid to get out of Charbonneau dismissed by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the request last month.

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Accurso’s lawyer then tried to file a motion for a publication ban.

Commission chair France Charbonneau refused Accurso’s request Tuesday as the inquiry resumed after a summer break.

Charbonneau noted the size of the audience for Accurso’s appearance, joking out loud that she wondered what could have brought so many people out.

Prosecutor Sonia Lebel explained the direction the inquiry will take before it submits its report in April.

She said contracts awarded by Hydro-Quebec and the Crown utility’s relationship with engineering firms will be examined.

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The inquiry, which has been studying the construction industry and the awarding of public contracts, has already heard from more than 100 witnesses since it came into existence in 2011.

When the hearings were put on hold in June, Justice France Charbonneau had mentioned there would be another “two or three weeks” of testimony before moving to the final stages of the commission.

WATCH: Ex-union boss at Charbonneau Commission

At that point, the commission will hear recommendations from stakeholder groups.

Some 72 briefs have already been submitted by organizations.

READ MORE: Former deputy premier of Quebec testifies at provincial corruption inquiry

The briefs reportedly include arguments for better protection for whistleblowers, improved regulations overseeing the construction industry.

The commission will also hear from experts in the field.

WATCH: Corruption inquiry interim report

“This part of our work is extremely important, as it will guide
us in developing potential solutions in our final report,” Charbonneau said at the end of the hearings in June.

A final report from Charbonneau and her co-chair, former provincial auditor general Renaud Lachance, is due by April 2015.

READ MORE: Quebec union boss said Mob wanted control of investment fund

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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