MONTREAL – A wiretap conversation heard at Quebec’s corruption inquiry suggests the province’s largest labour federation was ready to enlist the help of friends at the Parti Quebecois to make sure such a probe didn’t take place.
The wiretap is of an exchange in 2009 between two senior union bosses who can be heard saying they were ready to seek the help of PQ Leader Pauline Marois to ensure the inquiry never happens.
Michel Arsenault, who was then president of the Quebec Federation of Labour, is also overheard saying he has has a deal with “Blanchet.”
The reference was to Claude Blanchet, Marois’ husband, who previously ran the federation’s Solidarity Fund.
Arsenault also tells Jean Lavallee, a former president of the federation’s construction wing, that he’ll “talk to Pauline” to make sure the PQ didn’t support holding a public inquiry.
The PQ was the official Opposition in 2009.
Lavallee, who continued his testimony at the commission on Tuesday, said he didn’t know anything about the aforementioned deal and insisted the meeting with the PQ never happened.
Lavallee said he was firmly opposed to any sort of corruption inquiry, adding he isn’t happy with the hit his reputation has taken after devoting 40 years to the labour movement.
The labour federation has been under the microscope at the corruption inquiry in recent months as the probe looks at how organized crime infiltrated the union through its construction wing.