Fifth RCMP probe of grants in PM's riding
Police allege money was used to cover personal expenses
Andrew McIntosh, with files from Robert Fife
SHAWINIGAN, Que. - A fifth police investigation into the alleged misuse of federal grant money in the
Prime Minister's riding may lead to new criminal charges against two businessmen who are already
charged in connection with another grant.
The results of the newly revealed 12-month RCMP probe are in the hands of a Quebec Crown prosecutor.
Until now, the RCMP had acknowledged conducting only four grant-related investigations in Saint-
The Prime Minister faced intense questioning about the probes during the leaders' debates this week.
In the latest case, RCMP commercial crime detectives have investigated allegations that Paul Lemire and
Mario Pépin have since 1995 used up to $300,000 of federal grant money to cover personal expenses
such as restaurant meals while they ran Groupe Forces, an umbrella business group set up to spur local
The two Shawinigan businessmen have since been dismissed from their jobs at Groupe Forces.
In addition to the CITEC and Groupe Forces probes, the RCMP is also investigating whether Placeteco
Inc., a company controlled by a friend of Mr. Chrétien, misused a $1-million job grant by using it to pay
down bank debt instead of creating new jobs.
The fourth RCMP probe involves another job grant worth $165,984 that was awarded to 3393062 Canada
Inc. for a textile plant project in the Rosemont district of Montreal. The work was then transferred to
another plant near Shawinigan called Confections St. Elie and no new jobs were created. A forensic audit
of the grant was given to the police.
The final RCMP probe completed this summer examined unregistered lobbying for grants by René
Fugère, an unpaid aide to Mr. Chrétien, who helped 10 companies get more than $1-million in grants in
exchange for a fee of 5% to 10% of the value of the grants.
Though the facts were documented, Mr. Fugère and his company, Quorum Corp., were not charged after
an unidentified Quebec Crown prosecutor said the Lobbyists Registration Act was too vague and that a
conviction was unlikely under the circumstances.
During this week's leaders' debates, Mr. Chrétien responded to questions about the investigations by
saying that mistakes happen in a big government and that the police should be left to do their work.
During a campaign appearance on a television station in Hamilton, Ont., yesterday, the Prime Minister
defended federal job creation grants and said that if people have committed a wrongdoing in his riding,
they will all be punished if proven guilty.
"If somebodies [sic] have committed some mistakes and they have tried to cheat the government and they
face the courts and they are found guilty, I have no sympathy for them," he said. "These programs are there
to the people have jobs and many jobs have been created."
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