LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

Quebec municipal corruption for decades. No one noticed?

Posted 12.26.12
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We're still in shock from the Charbonneau Commission's revelations. There's more to come, but what often happens is that we, the public, are overloaded with information and quickly grow jaded even with the worst scandals.

As a public, our population seems to suffer collective Attention Deficit Disorder -- we continually want to hear about a new scandal, new horrors in Syria, new massacres in the States, new anything.

Before that happens with Charbonneau -- which is revealing widespread corruption in the municipal/corporate world of construction and road work -- we should look past this initial shock. We might wonder, if so many Mafioso and others have said this corruption has been going on for decades, why have we just found out about it now?

Living in a democracy means we have a free media. Where has that media been 'for decades?' True, Radio-Canada did blow the whistle on this, finally, but only after those decades and bribes passed by unnoticed.

And don't we have efficient police services? Don't we have anti-crime and corruption units in city, provincial, and federal police forces? Where have they been? Rather than celebrate uncovering this corruption, shouldn't we be a little angry that the RCMP, SQ, and municipal forces have missed this rampant criminality, decade after decade?

We hope the Charbonneau Commission will actually examine police ineptitude here, especially within the RCMP, which should be far enough away from the money to have picked up on this problem.

Where have our opposition politicians been on this file? If pay-offs have been going on for years, haven't opposition politicians noticed? We are seeing hints that on the provincial level, neither Liberals not Pequistes are immune from tarnish here. Will the investigation look in these holes?

And will the Commission also at least glance at our political system -- ours! -- that requires so much money, it becomes an open invitation for pay-offs and bribes? Should we re-open the question of public funding of elections, rather than depending on 'contributions' to parties, which can have big, big strings attached?

And will the Commission recommend expanding this investigation? A giant engineering firm is also being investigated for bribery ;for generations’ around the world. Bribes don't come only from the underworld. Will the Commission look at white-collar corruption in municipal-corporate relationships?

But, really, the huge breakdown here has been within the media -- the role the media did not play. England has been investigating criminal activities by the media itself, and one Murdock paper has already been thrown under the bus, as a sacrificial lamb. The media has responsibilities. It is not merely one part of the entertainment industry. In a democracy we rely heavily on the media for information. Community media, like this newspaper, is too small and too intimate with its community to take on a muck-raking crusade.

Our mainstream media has failed us. We should ask why.

john@johnmahoney.com




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