Monday, April 24, 2017
Why is Quebec So Dishonest?
I'm not sure as a society we can.
This week saw a culmination of some very sad revelations and events, casting doubt on whether we are making any progress at all.
Now before we go on, let me stress that this dishonesty trait is not a 'French' thing, it's a 'Quebec' thing and spreads across all cultures and communities in Quebec.
Let me remind you that the two largest English school boards are both under criminal investigation by UPAQ, the corruption police. The Jewish General Hospital also had its own corruption scandal, and let us not forget the infamous Arthur Porter payola scandal over the new English super-hospital.
Two weeks ago former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was convicted of fraud and has received a jail sentence.
So please, no holier than thou sentiments.
This week the trial began for three ex high-ranking Sureté du Quebec officers including one ex chief, who all are accused of dipping into the police force's secret slush fund used for undercover operations and for paying informants off the books.
The fund has little oversight other than the honesty of the high-ranking officers who are the caretakers and in this case, it seems that trust was sadly misplaced.
Also this week the election race for the 'Battonier' or head of the Barreau du Quebec (Quebec Bar Assoc.) took an ugly turn with accusations that board members illegally over-paid themselves for appearances to the tune of $500,000.
The person making the accusation is lawyer Lu Chan Khuong, the ex-battonier who is trying to win back her old job, a job from which she was forced to resign when it was revealed that she was arrested for shoplifting and allegedly received a preferential and secret non-judicial sentence. She kept the affair secret and only resigned after a newspaper published the facts.
I couldn't make up a story like that if I tried.
The government recently appointed an ex-deputy minister of Transport Quebec to look into the traffic disaster on Autoroute 13 where hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight in a blizzard due to organizational incompetence at that same Ministry of Transport and the utter failure of the police to handle the situation.
It turns out that the high-ranking police officer in Sureté du Quebec who was supposed to be in charge was goldbricking. Instead of manning his desk and overseeing operations, the officer was at a notary's office closing a real estate transaction for his moonlighting job.
Again I'm not making this up.
By the way, that man chosen to look into the matter Florent Gagné, doesn't exactly come with clean hands, having been accused of turning a blind eye to snow-removal collusion by the Charbonneau Commission when he ran Transport Quebec. His testimony at the Charbonneau Commission had the familiar ring of the unflappable Sgt. Schultz character of Hogan's Heroes fame. "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing!"
When offering his ludicrous defence at that commission, the judge asked him pointedly "Did people know that you didn't want to know?"
Dishonesty at the Montreal Police force is rocking the organization with revelations that the Internal affairs department fabricated evidence to punish whistle blowers who were trying to denounce corruption on the force. The Montreal police were under fire for spying on journalists in order to discover whistle-blowers as well. Many high-ranking officers are implicated and so the two largest police forces in Quebec operate under a corruption cloud. And to add insult to injury, it is the Sureté du Quebec which is investigating corruption at the Montreal Police. It should have been the RCMP who operate in Quebec with relatively clean hands, but the political fallout of the RCMP investigating the Montreal police would be too much of a humiliation.
Montreal mayor Denis Coderre is under fire for failing to disclose a $25,000 donation made to him in order to defray legal costs in a defamation case. When first questioned about the undeclared gift, he outright lied, denying he had received it, and then when presented with proof, declared that he was under medication when he made the statement. Of course he remains un-scarred by the incident because in essence, it is 'small potatoes' in the Quebec context.
Now last year, the Minster of Transport Robert Poëti hired an investigator, Annie Trudel, to uncover the shenanigans going on in his ministry. She quit in disgust as her work was being systematically sabotaged by high-ranking Transport Quebec employees, which included somebody falsifying information on a USB key that was to be submitted to the government detailing the collusion and corruption. UPAQ is now undertaking at least ten separate investigations of the department. The deputy minister, Dominique Savoie in charge took the fall and was relieved of her duties, but incredibly Poëti lost his cabinet job in revenge for Savoie's downfall, as she was a pet of Premier Couillard.
What happened to the disgraced Savoie? She now works in the premier’s executive council.
Again, I swear I'm not making this up. Link
The former Quebec lieutenant governor Lise Thibault has been sent to jail for cheating on her expenses to the tune of $700,000. She fought the charges for years and years, going so far as to claim immunity from prosecution because she represented the infallible Queen.
Now being the lieutenant governor is one of the cushiest jobs I can imagine and the honour of being chosen immeasurable. The lieutenant governor's job is to kiss babies and greet citizens, representing everything good in our society and it turns out that Thibault was just a nasty little thief.
Maybe we should let ex-mayor of Laval Gilles Vaillancourt, have a turn at the job when he gets out of jail. At least we'd have a big crook doing the job and someone who knows a thing or two about stealing public money big time.
And the political finance scandals that over these last few years have rocked each and every major political party lend credence that the political order is corrupt and dishonest.
I could go on and on, but what intrigues me is the WHY.
Why is Quebec so rampantly dishonest?
I thought about it a lot and tossed around the idea that perhaps turbulent political atmosphere due to the wrenching sovereignty debate might have something to do with it or perhaps the social upheaval of the 60's and 70's but alas, none of that is true because Quebec has been corrupt for a very long time.
The editorial cartoon seen here appeared in 1909 depicts Judge Cannon who presided over that commission looking into dishonesty in Montreal. The caption on the bottom says that the judge never smelled a cheese that stank so much. The stinking wafting out over the cheese includes the words "BRIBERY - INCOMPETENCE- PATRONAGE - FAVOURTISM.
The news even made the New York Times;
So what makes Quebec so dishonest?
I can only come up with one final culprit.....PRIDE and RESPECT or the lack thereof.
The lack of pride and respect that Quebecers show towards their collective society is manifested in dishonesty.
Police, fire, ambulance drivers disrespecting their own uniforms as a punishment for imposed contracts and the public who couldn't care less about the camouflage pants.
What self-respecting organization would humiliate themselves by dis-respecting their own uniform?
These same police who are not only corrupt, but terrorize minorities, all with the benign consent of the public who don't really care about human rights, only their own selfish situations.
Montreal has the sad history of the riot capital of North America. from the Maurice Richard riot to the Stanley Cup playoff riots to the Maple Spring riots and the annual anarchist riots. All these destructive riots are based on trivialities and in Montreal a good riot is just another event where idiots enjoy destroying other peoples property.
All of this coupled with a lazy and ineffective justice system, that is loathe to enforce the law and uninterested in jailing criminals, especially white collar criminals.
I once went on scene in the aftermath of a burglary at one of the stores which I owned and met the police who recovered the jacket of the burglar who fled in haste. Unbelievably, the jacket actually contained his wallet and ID. I asked one of the policemen sarcastically if they thought they could catch him and was stunned by the reply that the wallet and jacket couldn't really be used as evidence, as no direct link could be made. In fact, in a followup phone call, the police informed me that no further action was undertaken in the case due to budget constraints.
Such is justice in Quebec, where this same lazy attitude, indifference and incompetence is repeated tens of thousands of times each year, encouraging people to be dishonest and keeping criminals out of jail and the street where they can ply their trade with virtual impunity.
I'll have more to say about Quebec's pitiful criminal justice in a further post.
All the while, Quebec remains the province where its citizens donate the least to charity and do the fewest volunteer hours. Clearly we care less about the society we live in than those in the rest of Canada.
In a poll, only 13% of Quebecers said they would report corruption if they witnessed it first hand.
As for family, Quebecers are the kings of packing off parents to government-run senior citizen homes, placing parents more than double the national average. And with all the bitching and moaning about university fees, parents also contribute the least towards their children's education, about half of what British Columbians do.
It isn't a rosy picture and I can't really say it's getting better.
To me, it comes down to pride and respect for one's own society and it is here where Quebecers fail miserably, their collective behaviour bordering on the self-loathing.
There are those of you who will pooh-pooh the idea that it is this lack of respect and pride that makes Quebec so dishonest..... Fair enough.
But like a defence lawyer trying to cast doubt on the prosecutions case, an alternate theory for this collective dishonesty must be offered and for that, all I can say is....GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!
Posted by Philip Berlach on 4/24/2017 01:57:00 PM