When the Charbonneau Commission completed its inquiry into the construction industry in Quebec at the end of 2015, it found there was “widespread and deeply rooted” corruption and collusion in the awarding of public construction contracts.
It left the industry feeling a loss of trust by the public, and there was a call by members of the construction profession for help in repairing its reputation.
“It cost the industry a lot in terms of trust and respect. Thousands of contractors and workers have seen their reputation undermined and their pride shaken by some individuals,” says Pierre Hamel, director of legal and governmental affairs, L’Association de la construction du Québec. “They turned to us and asked us to do something.”
Hamel was appointed director of legal and governmental affairs at the ACQ in February 1999. He has held the position for 19 years and has also served as interim managing director on two occasions during his tenure with the organization.
The ACQ is a non-profit organization that serves as the exclusive bargaining agent for 17,000 employers in Quebec working in the institutional, commercial and industrial construction sectors. Those employers generate more than 60 per cent of the hours worked and reported in the industry in Quebec. It also does work for 10 regional associations.
Hamel directs two departments: the legal department, which has a staff of 18 employees, including 11 trial lawyers, and the consulting department, which has a staff of eight employees, including six lawyers responsible for disciplinary management arising from complaints concerning non-compliance with the application rules set out in the Code des soumissions déposées du Québec, internal compliance and corporate affairs, the telephone advisory service for members, training and government representations.
Since 2012, Hamel has spearheaded the establishment of the collective action program initiated by the ACQ. This program is aimed at promoting the implementation of in-house business integrity programs and ensuring, via independent certification, that companies apply the ethical compliance policies and tools established under the program.
After representing the ACQ as part of the work undertaken by the Charbonneau Commission, Hamel co-ordinated the development of an integrity program for implementation in construction companies of all sizes, as well as the establishment of a support service for companies intent on implementing the program.
Last year, he established an independent integrity certification organization. That organization, the Canadian Integrity Certification Bureau, came into being in April 2017 and began its certification operations in October 2017.
The Bureau was created to answer the problems that arose out of the Charbonneau Commission work.
Working with the Centre for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations — a university research group in Quebec — the ACQ came up with a
solution to address the issue of lost trust in the industry.
“In order to restore that trust, we set in place an integrated system to be implemented in all the companies in Quebec on a voluntary basis. But to be credible for the owners and public in general, such a program has to be certified by an independent third party, so we created the Canadian Integrity Certification Bureau for that,” Hamel says.
The first certification was given in January of this year.
Hamel and his team helped establish the organization and filled positions on its board of directors and secured financing for it. Hamel currently holds a seat on the CICB’s board of directors as the member representing industry.