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Of Course There Is a Snow-Removal Cartel in Montreal

A report says some snow professionals were told they'd have their legs broken if they bid on a certain contract.
November 24, 2015, 6:12pm
​ Still from the FX series 'Fargo'

Still from the FX series "Fargo"

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In the same week that the four-year Charbonneau Commission released its extensive report on corruption in Quebec, a Montreal inspector general report has found that the city has a powerful cartel controlling... the removal of snow from roads.

Allegations in the report include certain contractors dominating specific areas of the city through both collusion with other contractors and threatening competitors. The inspector general spoke to about 100 people, 60 of them being snow-removal contractors.

Many contractors denied that anything shady was underway, but according to the CBC's report, even those contractors who claimed everything was on the up-and-up hinted tellingly at collusion. Some of them are quoted (anonymously, of course) as saying things like "everyone decides to stay in his own territory" and telling would-be competitors, "You stay in your turf and I'll stay in mine."

That's in addition to the threats of physical violence some contractors received. The report's three examples were of contractors being warned they'd have their legs broken for bidding on a specific contract, be hit with a hammer for refusing to buy out a bankrupt company's contracts, and one person being told he'd "have the shit beat out of him" if he didn't buy a contract from another person.

Around 3,000 contractors are involved each year in carting 300,000 truckloads of snow off Montreal streets, at a cost to the city of $155 million. The inspector general office was created in 2013 by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, shortly after he took office.

The aforementioned Charbonneau Commission report, released this week, is nearly 1,800 pages long and contains 60 recommendations for the province of Quebec to cut down on corruption. With this new revelation, Quebec's already tarnished reputation is taking yet another hit.

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