Construction boss grilled over gifts to union boss

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - Quebec's corruption inquiry is grilling a construction boss about his relationship with a man who once ran Quebec's most powerful construction union.

Joe Borsellino, head of Garnier Construction, says former FTQ-Construction boss Jocelyn Dupuis was simply a friend and that he was generous towards him.

He tells Quebec's corruption inquiry that he never gave Dupuis money, but often plied him with gifts like hockey tickets, fancy meals and even a trip to Italy with their wives.

He also gave him access to a luxury condominium in an Old Montreal condo building for three years until it was sold in 2010. The building has made headlines in the last week, being described in reports as a haven for biker gangs and Mafia associates.

The inquiry heard wiretaps of Dupuis and Borsellino discussing a $40 million contract to fix a Rio Tinto plant in Saguenay and whether Dupuis might be able to help him get the winning bid. Garnier did not win the bid.

Borsellino says that, to the best of his knowledge, Dupuis never helped him get any contracts.

Dupuis headed FTQ-Construction between 1997 and 2008. It is the largest construction labour union in the province. He was asked to resign in 2008.

Dupuis is now facing fraud charges.

Borsellino did not agree to be pre-interviewed by inquiry investigators and his testimony, into its second day, has been laden with vague answers and frequent memory lapses.

At one point inquiry chair France Charbonneau intervened and warned Borsellino that vague answers wouldn't get him anywhere.

His name has been mentioned previously by former city employees who say they received kickbacks from Borsellino.