Intimidation in the masonry industry, setting the stage for unions
Former head of the Quebec association of mason workers (AEMQ), Stéphanie Bérard, admitted she was threatened and fired after telling her bosses she would have no choice but to testify at the Charbonneau Commission.
"I was muzzled," she said. "They stopped me from collaborating with investigators."
"I was told 'you are going to shut your mouth!'"
Bérard was brought in to lead the association, which represents around 235 members, to rebuild its reputation after the former head was known to "knock down doors."
She said her job was to help battle the black market, payments in cash, within the industry.
"The gap between the lowest bidder and the second lowest was huge," Bérard said. "It didn't make sense how the lowest bidder would make ends meet."
The former director explained mason-workers are particularly vulnerable contractors, because usually they do the finishing touches on a building, and are therefore paid the last, and late.
Many contractors are also unable to get bank loans, and turn to illegal financing. The only other option, she said, is bankruptcy.
Bérard began to notice problems starting in 2012, after writing an article in a trade-publication on how people should denounce corruption and play a part in helping the Charbonneau Commission.
The move was approved by the association's executive committee - the committee was also aware she was scheduled to testify at the Charbonneau Commission.
But after the article was published, the committee changed its tune and denied it knew of her upcoming testimony.
Someone called her from a blocked number, and left her a message that said "you're going to shut your mouth."
She explained how she was also intimidated at home.
"A vehicle would park in front of my home," she said. "The driver would flash the lights into my house, I would have to hide behind the island in my kitchen."
All the threats happened, she said, when her husband wasn't home.
"We have to denounce intimidation, if we don't things won't get better -- this has all been extremely difficult for me."
Entering the landscape of corruption within Quebec unions
Ken Pereira, former member of the FTQ-Construction Union, began his testimony at the Charbonneau Commission Monday afternoon, in what's expected to be a rather length stint on stand.
Pereira is most famously known for coming out and disclosing part of Jocelyn Dupuis' expense reports. Dupuis is the former head of the FTQ.
Pereira admitted Dupuis was almost "untouchable" when it came to his expenses, he didn't even let any of his colleagues see his reports.
He is expected to resume testimony Tuesday morning, where the crown says they'll look deeper into union activities.