Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

‘I hope to one day be forgiven’ for bribes, engineer says

Michel Lalonde, head of engineering firm Génus conseil (formerly Groupe Seguin), is shown in a frame grab as he testifies at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Monday, January 28, 2013 in Montreal.


A witness who exposed the depth of corruption in Quebec's construction industry broke into tears and asked for forgiveness as he concluded his testimony on how he bribed his way to increasing business for his engineering firm.

Michel Lalonde, an engineer who has been testifying for days under a publication ban at Quebec's corruption inquiry, emerged into public view briefly Thursday to deliver an apology for having bribed provincial and city officials and for having paid hundreds of thousands of illegal donations to municipal and provincial political parties.

"At the time, I thought I was doing what was necessary to bring in work for my business and my employees," Mr. Lalonde said, thanking his wife, parents and four children for their support.

Story continues below advertisement

"I understand the result of these acts, and I hope to one day be forgiven."

For days, Mr. Lalonde, the head of Génius Conseil engineering, formerly known as Groupe Séguin, has given detailed explanations of his dealings on some major construction projects in the Montreal region, which are now the subject of criminal trials. The testimony has been under a publication ban.

In his prior, public testimony, Mr. Lalonde offered a grim picture of a vast system where political donations were the key to entry on municipal projects, or understood to be the reward for parties at the provincial level, including both the Quebec Liberals and the Parti Québécois. A long list of officials also pocketed cash, he said.

Justice France Charbonneau, the head of the inquiry, commended Mr. Lalonde for his candour and courage.

However, Mr. Lalonde's testimony was laced with euphemisms he used to describe money his company skimmed from contracts and used to pay off officials. He spoke of "accommodating," "compensating," and "fulfilling" the corrupt officials he paid.

At one point this week, Martin St-Jean, the city of Montreal's lawyer, challenged Mr. Lalonde, saying: "What you're really talking about is being an accomplice to the theft of public funds."

Mr. Lalonde hesitated a moment before finally making the admission: "Yes, absolutely."

Story continues below advertisement

The inquiry was set to spend the rest of Thursday under a publication ban. It resumes Monday.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
National correspondent

Les Perreaux joined the Montreal bureau of the Globe and Mail in 2008. He previously worked for the Canadian Press covering national and international affairs, including federal and Quebec politics and the war in Afghanistan. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨