MONTREAL -- The Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec has taken every opportunity to condemn certain engineers’ business practices that have tarnished the reputation of some 60,000 engineers in Quebec. Recent revelations have forced Quebec’s engineering profession into an unprecedented crisis that needs to be resolved.
This is why the Ordre recently launched an unprecedented initiative in Quebec’s professional system: a voluntary audit program for consulting-engineering firms that will allow it to examine their business practices and encourage their integrity. To participate in this program, firms agree to follow specific rules and practise specific standards, to submit to audits by the Ordre and to implement the changes such audits recommend.
By taking pre-emptive action on the business practices of organizations involved in consulting engineering, the Ordre des ingénieurs will be in a better position to improve practice in all areas where engineers work, and especially their ethics and professional conduct.
It is the business practices of firms, and not the engineering acts performed by engineers in their efforts to build reliable, safe and lasting structures, that are at the heart of the schemes uncovered by the Charbonneau commission. Yet the two are in inextricably linked, since a project is judged as a whole. This is why it is essential for Quebec’s engineering sector to be known not solely for its technical expertise and know-how, but also for its ethics and business practices. Integrity can be its trademark every bit as much as competence, both locally and internationally.
The Ordre des ingénieurs is determined to get to the heart of the matter and restore public trust. In the wake of the revelations of the past few months, the Ordre’s Office of the Syndic has systematically opened inquiries on the engineers at the centre of the allegations, and it intends to bring offending engineers before the disciplinary council so they can answer for their actions and suffer the professional consequences of them. However, since the engineers concerned are presumed innocent in our legal system until proven otherwise, the disciplinary processes may be lengthy. These inquiries will only lead to complaints, which must be founded on solid evidence, and ultimately to punishments if the Ordre has enough time to do everything it must to complete them.
In the meantime, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec has decided to take immediate action while continuing to fully co-operate with the Charbonneau commission in an effort to put the values of competence and integrity back at the centre of engineers’ activities. The Ordre is determined to make every effort to earn full public trust in the profession.
Daniel Lebel is president of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec.