Today at Charbonneau: engineers to bikers
After a crash-course on the Italian mafia early in the Charbonneau Commission's work, the Commission today is learning all about the Hells Angels:
In March 1948, an obscure motorcycle gang in San Bernardino California, "the Pissed-Off Bastards of Bloomington", changed its name to "the Hells Angels". So began the afternoon's testimony at the Charbonneau Commission.
The expert on the stand, SQ police sergeant Alain Belleau, explained how the Montreal chapter of the Hells Angels was born in 1977, and from here, spread out across Canada. Despite the best efforts of the police since 2001, the Hells remains the most powerful motorcycle gang in the country.
The lecture on the rise of the Hells Angels in Montreal is a prelude to the next chapter of the Charbonneau Commission's work: the impact of organized crime on construction unions and the consltruction industry.
Earlier in the day, a witness told thew Charbonneau Commission that collusion on municipal contracts was slow to arrive in Quebec City, and was also slow to leave.
Former Tecsult-AECOM company executive Patrice Mathieu says competition for municipal engineering contracts in Quebec City was so fierce that some companies practically ruined themselves trying to undercut rival engineering firms. So much so that when Quebec's Law 106 came along in 2002 with the purpose of increasing competiton for public contracts, eight engineering firms in Quebec City agreed not to undercut each other and to keep prices higher. Mathieu in effect blamed Law 106 for encouraging collusion.
Another factor Mathieu says made collusion attractive and fairly easy was the great number of public contracts being offered at the same time.
Mathieu says the collusion on engineering contracts in Quebec City, which he testified began in 2005, ended in 2011.