Report: Quebec cops cancelled tailing operation after target chatted with Charest - InfoNews

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Report: Quebec cops cancelled tailing operation after target chatted with Charest

August 08, 2012 - 8:09 PM

MONTREAL - Campaigning Quebec politicians are reacting to an incendiary report on ties between the construction industry and the government.

Allegations of corruption in the industry, and political parties' links to it, are among the key issues in the Sept. 4 election and tonight's piece by the French-language CBC has pushed them back to the forefront.

An investigative report by Radio-Canada says the provincial police stopped tailing a target after the man — a construction-union official — had a chat with Premier Jean Charest.

The report says that police were monitoring Eddy Brandone, a onetime treasurer at the FTQ-Construction union.

In March 2009, Radio-Canada reported on a condo project, financed improperly with union money, in which units were purchased by about a dozen people with supposed Mafia ties while half the units went to union officials and their relatives.

Brandone was mentioned in that report.

One day after the report aired, on March 6, Brandone went to a public event the premier was attending — an Inuit conference at which federal and provincial ministers were present. Radio-Canada says the police tail was then cancelled.

The report does not say when or why the procedure changed, or who might have ordered the so-called "blackout."

It quotes multiple confidential police sources, all confirming the tail's cancellation and offering a variety of opinions on what happened. One source says there's an unwritten rule that when an investigation gets too close to the government, the provincial police back down.

The provincial police tells Radio-Canada there was no political interference in the Brandone wiretap. Charest, for his part, has sent a letter to Radio-Canada through a spokesman.

Charest says he doesn't remember the details of any chat with Brandone but expresses shock at the details of the report. He is expected to hold a news conference.

Brandone was recorded on a hidden camera telling Radio-Canada that he chatted with Charest for 30 seconds, and exchanged pleasantries.

In a second interview, however, he denied meeting the premier at the March 6 event. A source from among the Inuit representatives was cited, anonymously, saying the chat lasted two minutes.

In the earlier hidden-camera conversation with Radio-Canada, Brandone said he had met Charest in 1993 during his first bid to lead the federal Progressive Conservative party.

Brandone was also cited saying that he was close to Johnny Bertolo, a mobster killed in 2006, and that he knew Raynald Desjardins, who is reportedly among the most powerful figures in the Italian Mafia and who currently faces murder charges.

The leader of the Parti Quebecois called it abnormal that a police tracking operation would be cancelled.

"It's very worrisome," said PQ Leader Pauline Marois.

"I think Mr. Charest must absolutely explain his links with Eddy Brandone. How long has he had these ties for? What exactly are we hearing? He's the premier of Quebec; he has a duty to explain the nature of these ties and confirm or deny what we're hearing."

Note to readers: ADDS Marois quote in final paras, RECASTS slightly

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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