In the wake of an explosive investigative report that alleged massive corruption in Quebec real estate, the head of a centre-right provincial political party said that the suspected involvement of key Liberal fundraisers in the controversy should come as no surprise.
“Listen, these are very serious allegations of corruption at the SIQ with (Quebec) Liberal Party fundraisers,” Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault said on November 3, as quoted by the Montreal Gazette
“In a way, it’s not surprising: again the (Quebec) Liberal Party at the centre of a corruption scandal, again Liberal bagmen who are putting money in their pockets illegally.”
A protracted enquiry by Radio-Canada investigative program Enquête
has uncovered what retired anti-corruption investigator Christian Plourde described as the most significant instance of property fraud involving government buildings in Canadian history.
The investigation, which has been conducted by UPAC since 2011, found that crucial fundraisers for the Quebec Liberal Party and the erstwhile head of the Société immobilière du Québec (which manages government buildings in the province) may have illegally pocketed up to $2 million from real estate transactions through the sale of the said buildings.
In 2007, the SIQ sold off three buildings, with a stipulation binding the government as the entity responsible for the buildings’ structural upkeep for the next two decades. Currently, negotiations are still ongoing with Place Québec’s current owners to make them consent to the nullification of said clause.
Charges have yet to be filed, however, and Crown prosecutors are still in the process of evaluating the investigation files. Fortier, Bartlett, and Fava refuted the allegations, while Rondeau declined to comment.
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux assured the public that the UPAC will continue to dig into the case.
“UPAC is an independent entity that leads its investigations in an independent way, without us intervening or giving our opinion,” Coiteux said. “So I will leave it at that. This independence, it is very important and UPAC must do its work.”