Charest determined after inquiry controversy

A defiant Quebec Premier Jean Charest tried to shift the focus to the economy on Sunday after months of intense criticism for his handling of an inquiry into the province’s construction industry.

QUEBEC — A defiant Quebec Premier Jean Charest tried to shift the focus to the economy on Sunday after months of intense criticism for his handling of an inquiry into the province’s construction industry.

Charest avoided the controversy during his closing speech at the Quebec Liberal party convention.

Instead, he focused on his plan to grow the economy and declared his job far from done. And he hinted an election may not be far off.

“We will, on Dec. 8, celebrate the third anniversary of our election, and we’re moving inevitably towards an election campaign,” Charest, who was first elected in 2003, told reporters.

“When? Frankly, I don’t know. We have two years in front of us, so we’ll determine when that happens.”

Charest yielded to widespread public pressure on Friday and expanded the potential powers of the upcoming inquiry, headed by Superior Court Justice France Charbonneau.

Witnesses can now be forced to testify and will be granted legal immunity, making them more likely to talk.

Charest further clarified on the situation Sunday, saying he would allow for a full inquiry under the province’s public inquiries act should Charbonneau make that request.

“For us, that’s not an issue,” Charest said. “If that’s what she would require, certainly we’d look at that and we’d approve it.”

The original ground rules for the corruption probe announced last week were met with near-unanimous condemnation in Quebec, including by the provincial bar association.

The premier originally said the probe would not have the power to force witnesses to testify and rejected the possibility of granting immunity.

Charest had argued against such conditions on the grounds that they would undermine police criminal investigations.

Until last week, Charest had steadfastly refused to launch an inquiry.

There have been widespread allegations of corruption tying the Quebec’s multibillion-dollar construction industry to crime groups like the Mafia, and to political parties.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Head coach Jason Chatwood, left, sports one of the Sylvan Lake Gulls’ first on-field hats next to Aqil Samuel, general manager and president of baseball operations, earlier this year.
Sylvan Lake Gulls ticket sales off to flying start

With the inaugural season quickly closing in, the Sylvan Lake Gulls hit… Continue reading

Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s chief medical health officer publicly criticizes staffer who leaked info

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, dealing with rocketing COVID-19… Continue reading

The RCMP major crimes unit is investigating after a person was found dead at a residence on Stewart Street in Red Deer’s Sunnybrook neighbourhood Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer RCMP investigating suspicious death in Sunnybrook

A ‘deceased adult’ was found by officers

A detail from Canyon Light, an oil painting by Joan Clement, in the Scale exhibit by members of the Red Deer Art Club. It’s showing at the Viewpoint Gallery in the city’s Culture Services Centre. (Contributed image).
Outdoor art gallery and scavenger hunt is on in Red Deer next month

But First Friday receptions and patio concerts are postponed

Mahomes vs. Brady spices up Thanksgiving holiday week

Mahomes vs. Brady spices up Thanksgiving holiday week

Cowboys miss chance for NFC East lead with another home loss

Cowboys miss chance for NFC East lead with another home loss

Arsenal, Leicester, Hoffenheim advance in Europa League

Arsenal, Leicester, Hoffenheim advance in Europa League

Keegan Messing performs during the Men's Short program at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. If the world figure skating championships do go ahead in a bubble in March in Sweden, there is a good chance Canada won't be there. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canada might not compete at world figure skating championships – if they happen

Canada might not compete at world figure skating championships - if they happen

A piece of hockey history is up for sale, with a rare Vancouver Millionaires sweater, seen in an undated handout photo, hitting the auction block. The cream and maroon wool cardigan is believed to have belonged to Hall of Fame goalie Hugh Lehman, who backstopped the Millionaires to a Pacific Coast Hockey Association championship in 1922-23. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Lelands Auction, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Hockey history up for sale as 97-year-old Vancouver Millionaires sweater hits auction

Hockey history up for sale as 97-year-old Vancouver Millionaires sweater hits auction

Canada’s Nembhard scores 11 points off the bench in Gonzaga debut

Canada’s Nembhard scores 11 points off the bench in Gonzaga debut

Mighty Heart is breezed by exercise rider Des McMahon, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Woodbine Entertainment says it has officially cancelled the rest of its thoroughbred racing season following discussions with the Ontario government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Woodbine Racetrack ends horse racing season after talks with provincial government

Woodbine Racetrack ends horse racing season after talks with provincial government

As Alberta’s COVID-19 cases rise, so does tension over world junior championship

As Alberta’s COVID-19 cases rise, so does tension over world junior championship

Most Read