MONTREAL- Quebec’s upstart Coalition Avenir Quebec has unveiled a plan to put a petition online, calling for the provincial government to sue corporations named as corrupt in Quebec’s corruption inquiry.
“What we ask today is for the population to sign a petition to help us: forcing the government to sue those companies and get back our money,” said François Legault.
The URL is available in English and French at www.remboursez-vous.com, and the CAQ will accompany the petition with a TV public relations campaign.
“The first step is to sit down with the companies and say ‘give us the money you have taken from us,'” said anti-corruption crusader Jacques Duchesnau, the MNA representing Saint-Jérôme. “We’re talking billions of dollars.”
Political scientists refer to a move like this as ‘logrolling,’ – when an opposition party pressures the government into enacting one of its programs when it can’t muster the votes to do so otherwise.
Quebec’s Liberal leadership voiced qualified support for the effort.
“One has to be careful because of the rule of law, we have to be careful that one is not being accused of something that’s not corroborated, or firmly established in a court of law,” said Philippe Couillard, recently elected as leader of the Liberal Party.
The CAQ’s plan comes at the time when the province is rife with allegations of corruption. Former McGill University Hospital Centre (MUHC) head, Arthur Porter, is in Panama fighting extradition to face charges he created a bid rigging scheme when he engineered the construction of Montreal’s superhospital.
The Charbonneau Commission hearings have already cast a foul light on much of the city’s construction contracts, followed by dozens of arrests. Revelations at the hearings have also forced the resignation of the mayors of Montreal and Laval.
Concordia politics professor Harold Chorney said that while he thought the reimbursement push was a good idea, the devil will lie in the details.
“Say you won these civil suits to recover the money, but in the process of doing that screwed up the criminal proceedings,” he said.
It could hamper the ability of prosecutors to land guilty verdicts in criminal trials, and could tangle an already complex situation.
The Quebec Justice Ministry did not return requests for comment.
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