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14 highlights from Quebec’s corruption inquiry

Charbonneau Commission
A sign points towards a security checkpoint in Montreal at the Quebec inquiry looking into allegations of corruption in the province's construction industry. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The last 30 months of Quebec’s corruption inquiry has provided some gripping testimony about how the Mafia operates in the province and compelling testimony from many star witnesses.

READ MOREQuebec corruption inquiry ends after 30 months of public hearings

Here’s a look at a few of the highlights:

The star of the show

Looking over her dark-rimmed glasses with her eyes of steel, Justice France Charbonneau presided over the provincial inquiry into widespread corruption with tenacity and fearlessness and is now hailed as an incarnation of justice in Quebec.

READ MORE: Corruption in Quebec: A blow-by-blow account

The Canadian Press
Justice France Charbonneau smiles as she sits on the opening day of a Quebec inquiry looking into allegations of corruption in the province's construction industry in Montreal, Tuesday, May 22, 2012.
Justice France Charbonneau smiles as she sits on the opening day of a Quebec inquiry looking into allegations of corruption in the province's construction industry in Montreal, Tuesday, May 22, 2012. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
Justice France Charbonneau.
Justice France Charbonneau, Head of Quebec's corruption inquiry. Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press

Wads of cash stuffed in socks

Like a scene out of Goodfellas, Canada’s “Mafia Godfather” Nicolo Milioto, testified about the hidden camera footage that showed him, and other reputed Mafiosos like Nick Rizzuto Sr. and Rocco Sollecito, stuffing wads of cash into their socks at Café Consenza in Montreal: “When they do something, they bring us something, and we always divide it in five.”

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READ MORE‘Mr Sidewalk’ gets testy – and told off – at Quebec corruption inquiry

A photo taken in Montreal, Wednesday, September 26, 2012, from an RCMP surveillance video presented as evidence at the Charbonneau commission, an inquiry looking into corruption and collusion in Quebec's construction industry.
A photo taken in Montreal, Wednesday, September 26, 2012, from an RCMP surveillance video presented as evidence at the Charbonneau commission, an inquiry looking into corruption and collusion in Quebec’s construction industry, allegedly shows Nick Rizzuto Sr., right, exchanging tens of thousands of dollars with Nicolo Milioto, left, former head of Mivela Construction Inc. Also at the table is alleged mafiosa Rocco Sollecito. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Accurso defends his reputation

Powerful former construction mogul Antonio (Tony) Accurso walked away from the witness chair relatively unscathed, insisting he didn’t cater to organized crime figures or woo politicians for favours on “The Touch” — his now-famous luxury yacht, and dropping several bombshells.

READ MORETony Accurso testifies at Quebec corruption inquiry

Construction magnate Tony Accurso is seen on an image taken off a television monitor at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Friday, September 5, 2014 in Montreal.
Construction magnate Tony Accurso is seen on an image taken off a television monitor at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Friday, September 5, 2014 in Montreal. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

… about that yacht

“The Touch,” the yacht of former construction magnate TonyAccurso, made a star appearance at the inquiry, as union leaders admitted to accepting invitations to travel on his boat. Accurso also divulged that Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger once vacationed on his yacht as an invited guest, causing a storm of reaction on social media.

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READ MORE: Why is Mick Jagger trending in Montreal?

A photo of Tony Accurso’s yacht when advertised for sale with Fraser Yachts in 2010.
A photo of Tony Accurso’s yacht when advertised for sale with Fraser Yachts in 2010.

A picture is worth…?

A photograph of high-powered union boss Jean Lavallee and former head of the construction wing of Quebec’s biggest labour federation having his back washed by construction magnate Tony Accurso while on vacation caused a stir at Quebec’s corruption inquiry.

READ MOREPhoto of Quebec union, construction boss makes splash at corruption inquiry

A photograph of a high-powered union boss having his back washed by a construction magnate while on vacation caused a stir at Quebec's corruption inquiry on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. The 2005 photo entered into evidence shows businessman Tony Accurso scrubbing the back of Jean Lavallee, a former head of the construction wing of Quebec's biggest labour federation.
A photograph of a high-powered union boss having his back washed by a construction magnate while on vacation caused a stir at Quebec’s corruption inquiry on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. The 2005 photo entered into evidence shows businessman Tony Accurso scrubbing the back of Jean Lavallee, a former head of the construction wing of Quebec’s biggest labour federation. HO/Charbonneau Commission

Bombshell about outspoken corruption critic

Anti-corruption czar, Jacques Duchesneau was furious after former construction magnate Tony Accurso testified at Quebec’s corruption inquiry on Friday that he gave $250,000 to help the former Montreal police chief.

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READ MOREDuchesneau furious after Accurso drops donation bombshell

Investigator Jacques Duchesneau testifies at a legislature committee examining his report on corruption in the construction industry, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at the legislature in Quebec City.
Investigator Jacques Duchesneau testifies at a legislature committee examining his report on corruption in the construction industry, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Mafia’s “Ten Commandments”

From its secret codes, its origins and the scope of its reach to how it got into the construction business, criminologist Valentina Tenti shared a detailed history of the Italian Mafia, including the so-called “Ten Commandments” of the Sicilian Mafia, the list of rules under which members must supposedly live.

READ MOREMafia 101: Quebec corruption probe gets scholarly rundown on how Mob works

From its secret codes, its origins and the scope of its reach to how it got into the construction business, criminologist Valentina Tenti shared a detailed history of the Italian Mafia, including the so-called “Ten Commandments” of the Sicilian Mafia, the list of rules under which members must supposedly live.
From its secret codes, its origins and the scope of its reach to how it got into the construction business, criminologist Valentina Tenti shared a detailed history of the Italian Mafia, including the so-called “Ten Commandments” of the Sicilian Mafia, the list of rules under which members must supposedly live. Handout/Charbonneau Inquiry

Tales of collusion from the source

Ex-construction boss Lino Zambito testified for days about his personal involvement with a bid-rigging cartel, a Mafia tax on projects and corrupt city officials who accepted kickbacks.

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READ MOREZambito’s last day on the stand at Quebec’s corruption inquiry

One of the construction industry’s former big players. Lino Zambito, detailedl how he broke into the Montreal market and became part of a cartel of roughly 10 to 12 businesses that controlled the market on fixing water pipes and sewage pipes on the island of Montreal.
One of the construction industry’s former big players. Lino Zambito, detailedl how he broke into the Montreal market and became part of a cartel of roughly 10 to 12 businesses that controlled the market on fixing water pipes and sewage pipes on the island of Montreal. Charbonneau Inquiry

Allegations against Pauline Marois

Testimony surfaced about a wiretap where union bosses alleged they had a deal with Claude Blanchet, the husband of then-Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois to stop the inquiry from taking place.

READ MOREMarois’ spouse solicited $25,000: report

Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois and her husband Claude Blanchet in Beaupre, Que., September 4, 2012.
Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois and her husband Claude Blanchet in Beaupre, Que., September 4, 2012. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Donnie Brasco makes an appearance

Behind an identity-shielding barrier, former FBI agent Joe Pistone, better known as Donnie Brasco, waxed nostalgic about the days where he stuck a stake in the heart of the American Mafia.

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READ MOREQuebec’s 21st-century mobs not so different from the 70s: Donnie Brasco

Behind an identity-shielding barrier, former FBI agent Joe Pistone, better known as Donnie Brasco, waxed nostalgic about the days where he stuck a stake in the heart of the American Mafia.
Behind an identity-shielding barrier, former FBI agent Joe Pistone, better known as Donnie Brasco, waxed nostalgic about the days where he stuck a stake in the heart of the American Mafia. Ida Libby Dengrove/The Canadian Press

Former Montreal mayor defends his innocence

Gerald Tremblay, the former mayor of Montreal who resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal in 2012, told the inquiry: “I am not naive.” when asked how he could have missed the rampant corruption in his party, Union Montreal.

READ MOREEx-Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay kicks off eyebrow-raising appearance at corruption probe

Former Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay testifies at the Charbonneau Commission in Montreal Monday, April 29, 2013.
Former Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay testifies at the Charbonneau Commission in Montreal Monday, April 29, 2013. Handout/Charbonneau Commission/The Canadian Press

Ex-deputy premier of Quebec takes the stand

The highest-ranking former politician to appear was ex-deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau, who has been accused of benefiting from illegal financing, accepting gifts and favouring funding for projects involving firms that donated heavily to the Quebec Liberal party.

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READ MOREFormer deputy premier of Quebec testifies at provincial corruption inquiry

Former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister Nathalie Normandeau is pictured off a television monitor at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Wednesday, June 18, 2014 in Montreal.
Former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister Nathalie Normandeau is pictured off a television monitor at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Wednesday, June 18, 2014 in Montreal. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

“Rambo” denies using violence

One of Quebec’s most controversial union representatives, Bernard “Rambo” Gauthier, took the stand to deny he used violence and intimidation against contractors. His alleged practices led the government to modify labour laws, taking worker placement out of the hands of the unions.

READ MORE‘Rambo’s testimony at Quebec corruption inquiry done

Bernard (Rambo) Gauthier is seen on a screen broadcasting the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Tuesday, February 25, 2014 in Montreal.
Bernard (Rambo) Gauthier is seen on a screen broadcasting the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Tuesday, February 25, 2014 in Montreal. Charbonneau Commission/The Canadian Press

Quebec unions linked to Mafia and Hells Angels

A star witness was Ken Pereira, a long-time union organizer turned whistleblower who sounded the alarm about how the Mafia and Hells Angels were tied to Quebec union officials and gained access to a multi-billion-dollar Quebec pension fund.

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READ MOREQuebec corruption inquiry on hold after key witness hospitalized

Ken Pereira
Former FTQ union employee Ken Pereira at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry. Charbonneau Commission/The Canadian Press