Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Star Witness at Corruption Inquiry Jumps to Provincial Politics with Coalition

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Star Witness at Corruption Inquiry Jumps to Provincial Politics with Coalition

Article excerpt

Duchesneau has history fighting corruption


MONTREAL - News that an upstart opposition party has snagged corruption whistleblower Jacques Duchesneau as a Quebec election candidate is likely a shrill sound to Premier Jean Charest's ears.

It was the leak of an explosive report by Duchesneau in the fall of 2011 that finally pushed Charest to name a provincial inquiry into corruption after resisting public pressure for almost two years.

Now, with the inquiry on recess until after the Sept. 4 election, the probe's star witness may be holding forth from the hustings as a candidate for the Coalition for Quebec's Future.

Corruption, one of the key issues in the election, has been a longtime preoccupation for Duchesneau, who apparently did some of his investigating for the provincial anti-collusion squad on his own time.

"It's time we asked if we have played Russian Roulette with our ethics in recent times," he wrote in a text addressed to business ethics students at the Universite du Quebec a Chicoutimi, which is posted on his personal website. "It seems to me that we have. The proof of our passivity is obvious. . . .

"The moment of truth has arrived. We now need clear, strong measures and a general mobilization to put the brakes on collusion."

It was a corruption investigation that put Duchesneau into the public eye in the 1980s. Then a young sergeant-detective, he arrested his own boss on the Montreal police drug squad for stealing cocaine and hashish from an evidence locker.

The supervisor, a legend touted as a future chief, went to jail.

Earlier this year, some commentators called on Duchesneau to make a second try to become mayor of Montreal but he apparently wasn't interested. He was defeated in his previous mayoral bid, his only attempt at elected politics.

Not everybody has always been that keen on Duchesneau -- who can be blunt, perhaps even abrasive.

Lawyers at Quebec's corruption inquiry gave him an unprecedented grilling on the minute details of his government contract, even asking if there was a restroom in his office. This was after explosive testimony in which he made allegations of widespread corruption but didn't name names.

"The enemy is the people I spent 18 months tracking," he replied in frustration at hearings in June.

"All these questions are really funny. We point out collusion to you and what you're looking at is my finger, not where we should be going."

Duchesneau, 63, reportedly rubbed his boss the wrong way at the anti-collusion unit when he maintained the province's anti-corruption squad should be headed by a judge. The man in charge happens to be a former Quebec provincial police officer.

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay also demanded an apology from Duchesneau after he made disparaging comments about Tremblay in a newspaper interview this year. …

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