QUEBEC - Quebec is toughening oversight of how cities award building contracts amid allegations of rampant corruption in the construction industry.

Rather than call a public inquiry into Quebec's ongoing scandal, the provincial government will instead table a series of laws that would give it more control over municipal politicians.

The proposed legislation would allow provincial inspectors to scrutinize municipal books and impose sanctions if tendering rules aren't followed.

The province also plans to double the number of inspectors it has to respond to complaints.

But Municipal Affairs Minister Laurent Lessard says mayors shouldn't sit back and wait for the province to act.

He urges them to show some initiative and tighten their own rules governing contracts.

Lessard said Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay promised to let him know soon just how he planned to clean up his administration.

The city found itself awash in scandal during the recent municipal election.

There are accusations that construction companies - in collusion with the Italian Mafia - are funding political parties and boosting the cost of building projects.

Many have called for a public inquiry.

The Federation of Quebec Municipalities has reiterated calls for a full inquiry, and slammed the provincial government's announcement.

In addition to new rules for all municipalities, the province has also announced plans to introduce a code of ethics for cities that will be unveiled in the new year.

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