Business Public inquiries Quebec

News roundup – Bastarache, Hydro-Quebec & Innu, & scandal-plagued construction industry

More fallout from the Bastarache report. A former associate deputy-minister who corroborated Marc Bellemare’s version of events is considering going to court. During the Bastarache commission Georges Lalande produced Post-it notes as evidence that he said substantiated Bellemare’s but former Supreme Court of Canada justice Michel Bastarache concluded that it did not did not meet the reliability criteria established by the general rules of evidence. In an interview, Lalande said he felt he was defamed.

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Hydro-Quebec signed a $125-million agreement in principle with Quebec Innu, seemingly clearing a major legal hurdle that threatened to jeopardize one of the largest infrastructure works underway in the country. The Innu of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, located near Sept-Îles in the province’s North Shore region, agreed to drop legal action in return for the compensation package from the provincial utility. The legal proceedings against the utility could have blocked the construction of power lines for the $6.5-billion La Romaine hydroelectric project project. The lawyer representing the Innu community, Jean-François Bertrand, pointed out however that the Innu of Uashat and Mani-Utenam still have outstanding land disputes with the federal and provincial governments. They are seeking more than $2-billion in compensation for other hydro, mining and forestry projects undertaken on their ancestral lands over several years without their consent.

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Diane Lemieux, a former Parti Québécois labour minister, has been named as head of the Commission de la Construction du Québec, which is responsible for enforcing the provincial law on labour relations, professional training and workforce management in Quebec’s $30-billion a year construction industry. Lemieux will literally be in the hot seat as there have been growing calls for a public inquiry into the construction industry, which has been plagued with allegations of corruption and ties to the governing party.

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Montreal lawyer Audrey Best, wife of former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, passed away, following a three-year battle with breast cancer. Best, separated from her husband, worked up until the past month with the law firm Heenan Blaikie in Montreal.

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