Quebec: Corruption and Organized Crime

Jori Reiken
6 min readMay 4, 2021

Corruption in Quebec is a topic that has been discussed through academic journals, news sources, and within the government. There have been proven and unproven allegations over a long period of time and have piled on top of one another. For a period of two years, many people in Quebec wanted an inquiry into the corruption in the province, this led to Charest launching the primary inquiry in October 2011. “To investigate 1) collusion and corruption in public construction contracts, 2) whether such crimes were linked to political party fundraising, and 3) the role organized crime played in the construction industry.” (Riga, 2019) In the final report in 2015, “the Charbonneau commission said corruption and collusion was widespread and deeply rooted; it made 60 recommendations.” (Riga, 2019) The Charbonneau Commission brought to light the engraved corruption and collusion Quebec experiences yearly. Although politicians, including Renaud Lachance, still do not accept the conclusions of the commission. In a news segment by CBC, Lachance stated, “I cannot accept the conclusion of an indirect link between political party donations and the awarding of provincial contracts” (CBC, 0:57, 2015). The Commission brought many issues to light and the aftermath of it brought upon slight changes and controversy in the province.

First of all, it is important to discuss what actually is corruption. “Corruption can be defined as misuse of power by a public official for personal gain.” (Jain, 94, 2017) Corruption occurs when “a public official, acting as an agent for the public in one of these transactions, redistributes the rents in favour of a private entity in exchange for a share of the redistributed rents.” (Jain, 94, 2017) The power of corruption falls into the officials hands, they are the ones who make the decisions on if they will or will not participate in the crime and this decision comes from the power within their position. “A public official’s ability to extract private benefit arises either from the monopoly power held by the government to regulate all activities in society or from the public officials control over the apparatus that enforces these regulations” (Jain, 94, 2017). The partnership between criminals within organizations and the public official themself provides the opportunity and the link of corruption.

The Charbonneau inquiry focused on the construction industry in particular. It allowed for outside people to witness testimony and have insight into the ways in which the construction industry…