While the Charbonneau Commission, named to investigate collusion and corruption in Quebec’s construction industry, appeared to lose its way this week as lawyers representing the Quebec government and the Parti Québécois teamed up in an attempt to undermine the credibility of commission witness Jacques Duchesneau, ignoring documents presented by a commission lawyer outlining the myriad connections of seven Quebec construction families.
The documents were initially presented at the hearings on June 14, but at the time they consisted of eight sealed diagrams. Commission counsel Claude Chartrand explained then they were sealed because revealing their contents “could compromise investigations underway.”
Lawyers representing media covering the commission objected to keeping the diagrams secret and on Wednesday commission lawyer Sonia Lebel announced the commission was withdrawing the sealed diagrams, reintroducing instead seven of the eight charts as separate documents, and discarding the eighth, which Lebel said “had slipped in by mistake.”
One Montreal daily ran a front-page chart, showing the web of construction magnate Antonio Accurso’s interests in construction, Les Galeries Laval shopping centre and an inter-locking structure of private and numbered companies, most following a trail back to Accurso’s Place Victoria law firm, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.
But the six other diagrams offer the same treatment of other construction families.
- The Bibeau Family controls Schockbeton, Saramac and Suroma Corp., which is the second shareholder in Construction Argo Inc., controlled by Hugh Hallward.
- Garnier Construction, controlled by Joe and Gaspare Borsellino, own Garnier Construction. The diagram does not mention allegations by Parti Québécois MNA Nicolas Girard, that Joe Borsellino is associated with former Liberal family minister Tony Tomassi and businessman Luigi Coretti.
- Groupe Doncar, headed by Joseph Giguère and several members of the Giguère family. Its holdings include the Usine d’asphalte Montréal Nord. The diagram notes the usine’s largest shareholder is Simard-Beaudry, an Accurso company.
- Les Entreprises Catania, which owns the Groupe Frank Catania & Associés, is headed by Paolo Catania, of the Town of Mount Royal, who was arrested in May along with Frank Zampino, former president of Montreal’s executive committee, and Union Montréal political organizer Bernard Trépanier.
- Les Entreprises Catcan, headed by a different Paolo Catania, from St. Leonard, also controls Noël Rochette & Fils Inc.
- Neilson-EBC-Fava Family, Franco Fava, a Quebec City construction executive and Quebec Liberal fundraiser, was named by former Liberal justice minister Marc Bellemare, in what became the Bastarache Commission. Bellemare said he saw Fava handle huge sums of cash, alleging they were political contributions. Fava denied this was true and Bastarache, after a $4.8-million inquiry, ruled Bellemare’s allegations of political interference in the naming of judges were unfounded.
Tony Accurso has the largest most complex web of companies. The Accurso chart included his links to the Quebec Federation of Labour Solidarity fund, which invested in his real estate developments.
The Solidarity Fund was founded by Claude Blanchet, husband of Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois, who turned it over to Raymond Bachand, now finance minister in the Charest government. Bachand headed the Solidarity Fund from 1997 to 2001 and served on its board for 17 years.
Organograms of seven Quebec construction families: