Under Miscellaneous – Accountability lacking

Allan Hewitson's latest Under Miscellaneous Column from the Northern Sentinel.

While I am not a rabid conspiracy theorist in the case of alleged corruption scandals in the Province of Quebec, I’m always a little impressed when I click on an internet news story – such as I did today – to read about the resignation of the Mayor of Montreal, Gerald Tremblay — when I get the message, “sorry, the page you were looking for cannot be found.”

It gets worse when I scroll below this message and actually find the story is there. Now I know this is hardly a sound means of verifying any “allegation” and I dare say it will take some weeks, or months, if at all,  to determine whether, 1) there is any real truth to the stories we’ve all been reading for weeks, and, 2) whether its possible that there’s been some interference with the internet news page to make that message appear.

Tremblay has promised to release evidence proving he was betrayed and is innocent “at the appropriate time and place.” Now, at the ongoing enquiry, might be an “appropriate time and place.”

I know internet links are frequently “unavailable” and most people simply go back, double click, or try the same thing somewhere else. So it’s not a reliable indicator, but it leaves a message.

Certainly there’s very little to suggest that corruption isn’t in fact rampant in municipal politics in Quebec, in London and Toronto, and elsewhere – because an awful lot of people seem to think that mayors across the country are not all “kosher.”

I’m not trying to suggest, one way or another, that charges of illegal behaviour or involvement in delivering or receiving plastic bags full of money isn’t taking place with great frequency in Montreal, but not so sure that’s true across the country from coast to coast But it should be very easy to check if  government cheques may indeed be used to pay for family weddings. But of course, you really need to want to do it.

In fact, what really perturbs me is the consistent and repetitive nature of such allegations and what subsequently appears to be the total level of general disinterest  among taxpayers in these jurisdictions involved. The party behind Mayor Tremblay is quiet. There’s hardly a peep out of the federal Liberal party about London mayor Joe Fontano, although he was a federal cabinet minister for the party in 2005, coincidentally the year Mr. Justice Gomery released his first report on the sponsorship scandals.

I find it mind-boggling, although perhaps less so as the presidential election winds down in the US.

‘Say what you like’ seems to be the motto of the American candidates – and of course by the time this item makes the paper, the new, or the old, president will already be a week running the next four years.

And no matter who won, there’s very little likelihood of either being held accountable for anything that  was said.

It really is a little frustrating that when the hearings are over, the votes are counted, the news comes out next day, or in a month of a year – there’s little accountability for whatever happened or was said in the past. It’s just yesterday’s news.

The Charboneau enquiry certainly sounds a lot like deja vu all over again with the Gomery sponsorship hearings. How did we manage to become so blasé so quickly, I can’t help but wonder.

I’m less surprised to hear that the federal Conservatives decline to comment on the costs of shipping armoured cars from  Canada to India and back for the Prime Minister’s trade tour there. The RCMP also won’t comment and so the Opposition remains apoplectic, but hogtied. The real surprise is the wide range of public opinions and rationalized defence of the action in public commentary.

The fact is this recent Conservative majority government has really given the voters the finger when it comes to sharing rationale for its proposed legislation and policies. I don’t expect that position to continue for four years – when an election rears its ugly head, we all know the explanations will come thick and fast as it again becomes necessary to accept that taxpayers have a role in the governance of our country and they will only be taken for granted “ at your own risk!”

It’s all so real and visible, but there’s simply so much of it that people, as a whole, simply seem not to give a damn. Pity!

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