Political News

The writers of this website have personal knowledge of the following HEADLINE from McClean's Magazine on stand September 24, 2010.

The journalist, Martin Patriquin, does not go far enough and should stop letting the editior of the magazine control what really is going on with the province of Quebec, being the most corrupt province in Canada. In fact, Quebec is oldest province in North America and it is the trail blazer in corruption.

J4Y writes its comments next to some of the journalist own writings:

The Most Corrupt province

Quebec: The most corrupt province

Why does Quebec claim so many of the nations political scandals?

Marc Bellemare isnt a particularly interesting man to look at, so you would think the spectre of watching him sit behind a desk and answer questions for hours on end would have Quebecers switching the channel en masse.

And yet, the provinces former justice minister has been must-see TV over the past few weeks, if only because of what has been flowing out of his mouth.

Bellemare, who has been testifying in an inquiry into the process by which judges are appointed in Quebec, has particularly bad memories of his brief stint in cabinet, from 2003 to 2004.

The Liberal government, then as now under the leadership of Premier Jean Charest, was rife with collusion, graft and barely concealed favouritism, he says, the premier himself so beholden to Liberal party fundraisers that they had a say in which judges were appointed to the bench.

It happened in [Charests] office. He was relaxed, he served me a Perrier, Bellemare testified. The two spoke about Franco Fava, a long-time Liberal fundraiser who, according to Bellemare, was lobbying for Marc Bisson (the son of another Liberal fundraiser) and Michel Simard to be promoted.

I said, Who names the judges, me or Franco Fava? I was very annoyed. I found it unacceptable, Bellemare recalls. (J4Y: Bellemare should have immediately resigned and go to a newspaper that would actually print his charges against Charest. However, as a lawyer, Bellemare was sworn to secrecy by the bar and by those who appointing him).

He (Bellemare) remembers Charest saying, Franco is a personal friend. He is an influential fundraiser for the party. We need men like this. We have to listen to them. If he says to nominate Bisson and Simard, nominate them.

(J4Y: Franco Fava, besides being in the construction industry, is also a former member of the Quebec bar; Olay!! Rest the Case)

Judicial selection may be a topic as dry as Bellemares own clipped monotone, yet the public inquiry currently under way has been a ratings success.

It has veered into bizarro CSI territory, complete with testimony from an ink specialist who discerned that Bellemare had used at least two different pens when writing notes on a piece of cardboard.

(J4Y: That in itself tells you that the Government has no case and that in fact appoints judges by recommendation of members of organized crime running Quebec and Canada)

And despite his reputation as a bit of a crank, and the fact his supposedly airtight memory is prone to contradictions and convenient lapses, Quebecers believe Bellemares version of events over that of Jean Charest, the longest serving Quebec premier in 50 years, by as much as four to one, according to polls.

Part of the reason for this is the frankly disastrous state of Charests government. In the past two years, the government has lurched from one scandal to the next, from political financing to favouritism in the provincial daycare system to the matter of Charests own (long undisclosed) $75,000 stipend, paid to him by his own party, to corruption in the construction industry.

(J4Y: It is common knowledge in Quebec that the provincial and federal government are linked to the construction industry and subsequently organized crime).

Charest has stymied repeated opposition calls for an investigation into the latter, prompting many to wonder whether the Liberals, who have long standing ties to Quebecs construction companies, have something to hide. (Regardless, this much is true: it costs Quebec taxpayers roughly 30 per cent more to build a stretch of road than anywhere else in the country, according to Transport Canada figures.)

Quebecers want to believe Bellemare, it seems, because what he says is closest to what they themselves believe about their government.( J4Y: And about the Judiciary.)

(J4Y: Readers must also take into account that when Maurice "Mom" Boucher, member of the Hells Angels in Montreal, first was acquitted on charges of ordering the 1997 killings of two prison guards, was given a standing ovation from hockey fans attending a hockey game at the forum of Montreal.

J4Y: Thus Quebecers, like every other predominantly Catholic nations, including the Vatican City, condone bad behaviour and also most Quebecers, especially those living in Montreal, are on the side of corruption, as much as the government and the juddiciary itself. Why else would Jean Charest be elected time and time again? Quebecers are the leading province for underground economy and Quebecers are notorious in stealing from the purse of CRA and others).

This slew of dodgy business is only the most recent in a long line of made-in-Quebec corruption that has affected the provinces political culture at every level.

(J4: The level of corruption that the journalist is referring to, includes and is not limited to, bribery by anyone prepared to grease the palm along the way, which may well include journalist.)

We all recall the sponsorship scandal, in which businessmen associated with the Liberal Party of Canada siphoned off roughly $100 million from a fund effectively designed to stamp the Canadian flag on all things Quebecois, cost (or oversight) be damned.

I am deeply disturbed that such practices were allowed to happen, wrote Auditor General Sheila Fraser in 2004. Frasers report and the subsequent commission by Justice John Gomery, which saw the testimony of Liberal prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, wreaked havoc on Canadas natural governing party from which it has yet to recover.


What lies beneath Quebecs scandals

COYNE: The factors behind the provinces penchant for money politics

by Andrew Coyne on Friday, September 24, 2010 5:50pm -


No, Quebec is not the only province where political scandal sometimes erupts. Governments and business have been corrupting each other across this country since pre-Confederation days.

But in no other province does it feel quite so ...inevitable.

British Columbia has thrown up the odd chiselling premier, Atlantic Canada is famously steeped in patronage, but there is no comparison to the kind of octopussal industry-union-mob-party configuration lurking just below the surface of politics in Quebec.

Toronto may have been scandalized by the cronyism of the Mel Lastman era, but only in Montreal would a candidate for mayor publicly confess to being afraid for his life. When a senior adviser to Ontario premier David Peterson was forced to resign after it was revealed he had accepted a refrigerator from a party donor with ties to a developer, puzzled Montrealers phoned their friends in Toronto, asking, What was in the fridge?

The roots of corruption run deep in the province.

Scrounging for funds to carry him through the 1872 election, the eminently corruptible Sir John A. Macdonald did not have far to look: Montrealer Sir Hugh Allan, said to be the richest man in Canada, was even then angling for the contract to build the CPR.

Fifty years later, with Prohibition in force and Montreal a flourishing centre of the cross-border smuggling business, Mackenzie King saw fit to put Jacques Bureau in charge of the customs department, with comically debauched results: the scandal that ultimately led to the King-Byng affair.

Fighting corruption has often proved the best opportunity for it.

The young Maurice Duplessis made his name denouncing the venality of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau s government (Taschereau was eventually forced from office on charges of abusing public funds, the third Quebec premier to suffer this indignity), much as Brian Mulroney rose to fame for his work on the Cliche commission, and just as Jean Chretien came to power promising to clean up the mess left by Mulroney.

Sponsorships, Shawinigate, the ghostly voters of the Gaspesie, Airbus: there is a pattern here, and it isuseless to deny it.

What explains Quebec s unusual susceptibility to money politics? Deeply entrenched deference to authority? A worldly Catholic tolerance of official vice?

There is no grand unified theory: at different times and in different situations, different forces have come into play. Nevertheless, a few broad factors emerge:

Power corrupts, but so does impotence. Healthy political cultures are marked by contestability: results are unpredictable, success is incremental, and neither victory nor defeat are ever far from view.

But the tendency, in federal politics, for Quebecers to throw their support to one party or another en bloc, and the provinces outsized importance, therefore, in deciding elections, has given rise to a peculiar set of pathologies.

On the one hand, the Liberal partys decades long dominance in Quebec contributed to the usual habits of abuse that accompany too much familiarity with power.

On the other, the Tories equally long history of futility in the province made them all too willing to do almost anything to break through, and made them vulnerable, when they finally did, to every main chancer that walked through their doors.

People do the worst things for the best reasons. In healthy political cultures, politics is at least tangentially about ideological differences. Then again, it is still only politics: it is not war.

But in the last five decades, what Quebecers call the national question has more or less shoved normal ideological debates off the table, whether at the federal, provincial or even municipal level.

With the very survival of the country, or the birth of a new one, at stake, politics in Quebec took on, even more than usual, a wartime mentality: it became all too easy to justify to oneself, or to others, practices that might otherwise be seen as garden-variety sleaze. (That, at any rate, is the most charitable explanation for the sponsorship scandal.)

The scandal is what islegal. Outright corruption, as Michael Kinsles aphorism suggests, is only the tip of the ethical iceberg.

People in politics are given to seeking refuge behind the law: so long as you do not actually commit a crime, you have not done anything wrong. Mere patronage or pork barrelling is excused, so long as you do not actually pocket the money.

In any case, it is a false distinction.

Once you get in the habit of spending the publics money as if it were your own, it is all too easy to forget whose money it really is. And, ethical standards having been so easily breached, you may find the guard rail of legality incapable of braking your momentum.

This is all the more likely if politicians are operating in a general climate of public acceptance of such activities. The long bidding war, as Brian Crowley has called it, for Quebecers affections federalists versus separatists, Ottawa versus Quebec City Educated Quebec voters, already used to Duplessis style bossism, to expect such booty, even to demand it.

Moreover, the distended role of the state in the economy under the Quebec Inc. model, its heavy use of subsidies and other tools of intervention, created a strong incentive to win the favour of those in power, by fair means or foul.

Indeed, the state is not the only example of centralized power in Quebec: big government, big business, big labour, the enormous megaprojects of which all three are inordinately fond all maximize the potential for improper collusion and blurring of lines. Even the crime syndicates seem more concentrated.

One other factor must be mentioned. Every society has its critics: successful ones thrive on them.

But constructive criticism in Quebec, given the francophone majoritys perception of itself as an embattled minority, all too often leads to a closing of the ranks against what is invariably described as Quebec-bashing.

If from outside, it is put down to ignorance of Quebecs particularity; if from a non francophone Quebecer, a failure to identify with the goals and values of the majority; if from a francophone, a traitorous readiness to advance on the backs of his fellows. One half expects to hear the same in this case.


Ottawa to fund study on organized crime's tentacles in construction industry

Sidhartha Banerjee October 14, 2010

MONTREAL - The federal government has quietly commissioned a study of a Canadian construction industry mired by allegations of political cronyism and infiltration by organized crime.

The move comes after the federal and Quebec governments as well as Montreal's administration were sideswiped over the last year by stories alleging impropriety in the industry.

So far, politicians have resisted widespread demand, mainly in Quebec, for a public inquiry into the sector.

There are also signs the controversy could reverberate in Ottawa, with an RCMP probe into a $9-million government renovation contract involving a bankrupt Montreal construction firm and a Tory organizer.

Without any fanfare, the federal government has budgeted at least $80,000 for a study on the links between organized crime and construction companies.

"The purpose of this project is to perform an in-depth study of the commercial construction sector within two Canadian jurisdictions, with a specific focus on its vulnerabilities to infiltration by organized crime," according to call-for-tender documents issued Thursday.

The jurisdictions are not identified. While Quebec is not specifically mentioned, the notice makes clear that at least one senior member of the study team must be bilingual.

A report is due next year.

A spokesman for Public Safety Canada was unable to provide further details.

According to tender information, the study comes after a summit on organized crime held in Ottawa in 2008 revealed a lack of credible information available.

"Despite the current efforts to combat organized crime, there continue to be gaps in empirical data that impacts the ability to develop appropriate policy responses," the document reads.

It also comes after a year in which politicians at all levels have steadfastly stonewalled demands for a public inquiry.

Quebec and Montreal have been saddled with allegations of intimidation, bid-rigging, inflated contracts, construction cartels and organized crime involvement.

Past polls have shown Quebecers were overwhelmingly in favour of a probe.

But the Charest government has refused, instead putting its faith in Operation Hammer, an anti-corruption task force made up of police and prosecutors with a multimillion-dollar budget and a mandate to investigate and clean up the construction industry.

The Quebec government has made the industry more transparent and accountable through a series of reforms, but opponents have argued the measures aren't enough.

The allegations of impropriety prompted Maclean's to recently run its controversial Bonhomme Carnaval cover describing Quebec as Canada's most corrupt province.

Organized crime expert and author Antonio Nicaso said while the construction industry has its share of problems, organized crime's reach isn't limited to that industry alone.

"My concern is don't label the construction industry because there are so many honest people (also)," Nicaso said. "It's a way (organized crime) legitimizes their activity, but it's not the only way."

Nicaso said what Canada needs to do is to conduct a broader study on how criminal organizations succeed in building ties and integrating themselves into society.

"We always focus on the violent aspect of organized crime but never pay attention to the so-called grey area, where criminals and white-collars and politicians and businessmen get together," Nicaso said.

That's a far more complicated undertaking, Nicaso admits, but would be a far more fruitful exercise in the long run.

"The only way to understand why the Mafia has been around for almost of two centuries is because of this network of relations that mobsters are able to build," he said.

Justice is a conscience, not a personal conscience but conscience of the whole of the humanity.
Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of Justice.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn