Osgoode Hall Law Journal



Document Type

Special Issue Article


The Quiet Revolution in the 1960s propelled the province of Quebec onto the path of greater social justice and better government. But as the evidence exposed at the Charbonneau inquiry makes clear, this did not make systemic corruption disappear from the construction sector. Rather, corrupt actors and networks adjusted to new institutions and the incentive structure they provided. The patterns of corruption emerging from the Charbonneau inquiry bear the imprint of the so-called Quebec model inherited from the Quiet Revolution in at least three ways: (1) the economic nationalism that made public policies partial towards French-speaking and Quebec-based businesses, notably in the engineering sector, with major firms like SNC-Lavalin using their dominant position as “national champions” to engage in cartel-like practices to raise the price of construction projects; (2) the Jacobinism that strongly centralized power at the provincial level and left municipalities underdeveloped in terms of bureaucratic capacity, thus making them easy prey for corrupted interests; and (3) the sovereigntist/federalist cleavage that, since the 1970s, has made Quebec businesses dependent on the Liberal Party for political stability and has allowed party operators to extract a rent from businesses in return.

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