St. Jerome hires Jacques Duchesneau to investigate corruption

St. Jerome is turning to a high-profile anti-corruption crusader to investigate municipal contacts for possible kickbacks and collusion.

The off-island suburb has hired Jacques Duchesneau—a former Montreal police chief, Coalition Avenir Quebec MNA, and the one-time head of an anti-collusion unit at the Ministry of Transportation—as its new inspector-general and deputy police director.

"We're going to start looking at the past and make sure that the present is fine and we're also trying to build a new generation of people who will be saying no to corruption," he said following the announcement of his appointment.

Duchesneau will lead a new unit investigating allegations of kickbacks and collusion in the awarding of public contracts.

His appointment follows testimony from an engineer alleging corruption at city hall.

"An engineer testified before his [professional order] saying that there was a structured group of people who were doing corruption in St. Jerome and it lasted eight years," said Duchesneau.

That engineer, Erik Frigon, testified former mayor Marc Gascon colluded with several firms in the awarding of contacts.

Current mayor Stephane Maher says the unearthed revelations prompted Duchesneau's hiring, and the creation of the new anti-corruption squad he will lead.

He surmises the unit could end up paying for itself in the long run.

"We think we could find 10 or 15 million dollars. That's a lot of money," he said.

Up to 10 people will be hired in the coming weeks to investigate possible corruption in public contracts, Duchesneau added.