Want to fight corruption? Let Europeans bid on our public works: Quebec envoy

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MONTREAL - A representative of the Quebec government says there's a good way to eliminate collusion in the construction industry, hit with accusations of rampant corruption: allow European companies to compete for public-works contracts here.

Quebec's chief negotiator for the Canada-European Union free trade deal says opening up the province's contracts to competition could help solve the problem.

Former PQ premier Pierre Marc Johnson made the remarks today at an information session in Montreal on the EU negotiations, attended by around 100 industry, union and civil-society groups.

Johnson's comments come as Quebec holds an explosive inquiry into corruption and collusion in its construction industry.

Ottawa hopes a Canada-EU agreement can be signed by the end of the year.

But the brand-new Parti Quebecois government has indicated that there are grey areas in the negotiation that need to be clarified before the province signs on.

The new government has also been critical of the lack of transparency in the negotiations and says people deserve to know more about what might be in the deal — which is why it organized today's conference.

Johnson said many sectors will be excluded from the Canada-EU deal including health care, education, social security, public transit, daycare and aboriginal affairs. He also said Canada's fresh water will be protected, and municipalities will not be forced to privatize water distribution.

Organizations: European Union, Parti Quebecois, Canada-EU Johnson's

Geographic location: Quebec, MONTREAL, Canada Ottawa

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