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PQ uses its first legislation, Bill 1, to tackle corruption

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois addresses the Quebec legislature Oct. 30, 2012.

JACQUES BOISSINOT/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Parti Quebecois government is introducing tough new anti-corruption measures in its first piece of legislation and will subject companies to increased scrutiny if they want public contracts.

The government would entrust Quebec's securities regulator to verify the integrity of companies vying for any provincial and municipal contracts and require bidders to have a certificate proving they are clean.

Treasury Board President Stephane Bedard says the financial markets watchdog, known as the AMF, is best equipped to audit firms and hand out certificates to those in good standing.

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Mr. Bedard says they could refuse or revoke that status if the public trust could be affected by a company's lack of integrity.

The in-depth screening would include a look at partners, directors, officers and anyone who directly or indirectly controls the company under the law.

Quebec's anti-corruption unit would also keep tabs on companies to ensure they continue to comply with the rules.

Premier Pauline Marois said during her inaugural speech on Wednesday that her first weeks in office will be dedicated to fighting corruption, in the wake of political scandals that have rocked the province.

She said she will not wait for an ongoing inquiry to offer its conclusions and will act immediately on the anti-corruption front.

The PQ has said it hopes to pass the Bill 1 before Christmas.

The new government has pinned its hopes to the popular anti-corruption cause.

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The PQ promises a series of measures in the coming weeks, and is downplaying the divisive identity-and-independence issues that dominated the recent election.

It's still unclear, however, how the PQ will survive its first confidence vote with opposition parties planning to vote against its inaugural speech.

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