Corruption inquiry in Quebec zeroes in on man linked to Stephen Harper’s office

By Sidhartha Banerjee
Canadian Press
October 2, 2012

MONTREAL — The ripple effect from a corruption inquiry that has focused so far on local wrongdoing in Montreal has moved closer to federal circles with testimony about a scam involving a man once linked to the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Quebec’s inquiry heard Tuesday that the man the Harper government once promoted as its preferred candidate to run the Port of Montreal played a role in the corruption schemes that were rampant in the local construction industry.

Robert Abdallah was accused of participating in a kickback system at the City of Montreal during testimony before the inquiry, which is examining the construction industry and its links to organized crime and politics.

The testimony reverberated on the floor of the House of Commons. The federal government was forced to fend off opposition queries about its relationship with Abdallah and it stressed that, in the end, he didn’t get the port job.

Harper’s office downplayed Abdallah’s federal ties.

“We have no comment on the allegations made against former City of Montreal staff,” a prime ministerial spokesman said in an email.

The issue emerged during the third day of Lino Zambito’s bombshell-dropping turn on the inquiry witness stand.

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