Jean Charest’s testimony would have been “useless”

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Judge France Charbonneau. Source: Radio-Canada / Karine Dufour

According to the person who chaired the Commission of Inquiry into the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry, to testify John Charest would not have been useful, especially since such a maneuver could have harmed other legal proceedings that were taking place in parallel.

“We had gathered all the necessary evidence,” she said on Sunday during her appearance on the show. Everybody talks about itreferring to the Commission’s revelations about the links between political financing and the award of public contracts.

This is why, with regard to the testimony of Jean Charest, the “game was not worth the candle”.

The magistrate explains that such testimony could have harmed the ongoing investigations on the same issues, in particular because the public revelations of Mr. Charest could not have been used by the investigators of the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC).

The one who is now a Superior Court judge, however, insists that Mr. Charest could have testified if he had wished, a week after the latter had described the decision not to have him as “funny”. invited to testify during an interview on the same set.

“If he had insisted on being heard, as did (Guy Chevrette, former PQ Minister of Transport), we would have heard him, and that would have changed the whole situation,” she said. The Commission, she explains, “did not want to take the chance” of seeing evidence derived from testimony obtained “by duress” possibly being “stripped out and thrown out” during a possible trial under the right of do not incriminate yourself.

France Charbonneau was also questioned about the famous dissidence of one of its commissioners, Renaud Lachance. The latter had dissociated himself from the Commission’s final report by refusing to recognize a direct or indirect link between the payment of a political contribution and the awarding of public contracts.

Former Prime Minister Jean Charest.  Source: Radio-Canada / Karine Dufour

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Former Prime Minister Jean Charest. Source: Radio-Canada / Karine Dufour

Former Prime Minister Jean Charest also relied on this dissidence to defend himself against allegations of illicit financing strategies for the Liberal Party of Quebec under his leadership.

The former commissioner described this dissidence as “unfortunate”.

“We have seen presidents and vice-presidents of big companies come and tell us that after having received several million contracts, someone from the party knocks to tell them: ‘It’s time to give.’ (…) For me, there is a link, direct or indirect, ”according to judge France Charbonneau.

She played down that difference of opinion, however, calling it “a line in a 1,300-page report.”

Ultimately, she believes that the 45 million dollars of public funds invested in the Commission have produced good results for Quebecers.

“Simply on the financial level, during the work of the Commission, there was a 30% drop in construction costs, she recalled. When you think that the government must certainly give $10 billion a year, 30%, that’s $3 billion. »

She also welcomed the adoption of Law 26 and the establishment of a program aimed at encouraging companies that have defrauded the government to reimburse these sums.

“That program brought in something like $94.7 million and, in Laval, the same program enabled the City to collect $50 million. »

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