Companies at the centre of a major Quebec corruption probe received money from the federal government’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure stimulus plan, according to a CP analysis. The investigation of funding in three Montreal-area municipalities found three instances of companies tied to criminal charges receiving cash from the program.
These include companies owned by construction entrepreneurs Tony Accurso and Lino Zambito, both of whom are facing a long series of charges. Money also went to BPR and Transport and Excavation Mascouche (TAM)—two companies charged with fraud and conspiracy.
Word of their success in obtaining stimulus funding comes after a Canadian Press report last week that many individuals facing charges for improper activity at the municipal level have ties to federal parties through political donations.
Despite the flurry of allegations in recent years about corruption in Quebec’s construction industry, the federal government has repeatedly dismissed the idea that it should adopt special safeguards for its historic stimulus program. It has noted that municipal tendering rules are generally a provincial responsibility.
This isn’t the first time questions have been raised about the infrastructure stimulus plan, which saw the federal government pour billions of dollars into projects large and small across the country. Two years ago, Jason Kirby analyzed some of the more dubious spending in the program for Maclean’s.
From the magazine:
The stimulus plan, which the government announced in January 2009 under pressure from opposition parties, was meant to put Canadians to work on shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Originally valued at $40 billion over two years, the Finance Department now says the stimulus measures, including contributions from other levels of government, will hit more than $60 billion. But with the economy well into recovery, critics charge the surge of money flowing out of government coffers is not only needless, in many cases it’s been squandered on frivolous projects. And with at least five years of multi-billion-dollar deficits ahead of us, it threatens the long-term health of the economy.