MONTREAL - The Quebec government is forming an investigations unit to examine allegations of collusion and corruption in the province's construction industry.
Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis says the unit will include members of Quebec provincial police as well as Mounties and Crown prosecutors.
Dupuis told a news conference in Montreal today the new group will head up Operation Hammer.
The move comes amid reports that companies linked to the Italian Mafia have dabbled in political affairs and essentially created a construction cartel that works to drive up the cost of building projects.
Mafia experts say the practice exists elsewhere in Canada, and is particularly worrisome now that Ottawa and the provinces are embarking on the most expensive infrastructure program in Canadian history.
Quebec has been rocked by reports that Mafia-linked construction companies have colluded to drive up the price of public-works projects by 35 per cent in the Montreal area.