Quebec's Bill 1: A Case Study in Anti-Corruption Legislation and the Barriers to Evidence-Based Law-Making
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Corruption is a significant problem around the world. Large-scale public works projects are especially prone to corruption. Much international effort has been devoted to fighting corruption, but the impact of these efforts is debatable. Public-sector procurement in the Canadian province of Quebec has, since 2009, been beset by scandal. After defeat of the Liberal government in 2012, the first bill introduced by the new Parti Québécois government was an anti-corruption measure. The heart of Bill 1 is a system by which construction contractors have to demonstrate “integrity” in order to bid on public contracts. Quebec’s lawmakers could have looked to international and national anti-corruption instruments, a vast literature, and practical examples from other jurisdictions. Instead, there is almost no reference in the debates to this anti-corruption context. The lawmaking process was driven by other imperatives, particularly speed. The author draws conclusions for anyone wishing to influence the lawmaking process.