06.18.2013 05:11 AM

In Tuesday’s Sun: corrupted

What part of Canada is the most corrupt?

After Monday — and if you were to ask Maclean’s magazine — it would seem to be Quebec. Monday morning, Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum was arrested at his home by members of the province’s anti-corruption unit. Ironically, Applebaum was named Montreal’s interim mayor last November — because the previous mayor, Gérald Tremblay, was forced to resign due to corruption allegations.

Before Monday’s events, the City of Laval asked to be placed under trusteeship, after gangsterism and fraud charges had been laid against its former mayor and 37 others. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has claimed — 17 years after the fact — that mayor tried to hand him an envelope full of cash.

And, earlier, one political organizer almost boasted to the inquiry that he had rigged at least 60 municipal and provincial campaigns since 1995. Around the same time, Stephen Harper patronage appointee Arthur Porter -the powerful former head of Canada’s spy agency watchdog — was named in an arrest warrant for his role in the construction of a Montreal hospital. He’s now in Panama, fighting extradition.

Right about now, Maclean’s magazine is saying, “Told you so.” Back in 2010, a publicity seeking polemicist there wrote a ludicrous story headlined, “The most corrupt province.” Said the magazine: “The history of corruption is…long and deep in Quebec.”

Political corruption exists in Quebec, as the Charbonneau Commission — and, before that, the Gomery Commission –made clear.

But it is inaccurate and unfair to suggest Quebec is alone, or the most corrupt.

In recent years, the politics of every province has been muddied by corruption allegations. A quick recap:

  • British Columbia: Under the Liberals, the provincial legislature was raided in a kickback scandal — and, earlier, the NDP was found to have siphoned monies raised for charity into its own coffers.
  • Alberta: Last month, a former municipal official was arrested in connection to yet another alleged construction-related kickback scheme — and, before that, political parties were found to have been illegally receiving money from municipalities for, among other things, golf games.
  • Saskatchewan: The province’s PC party essentially ceased to exist after 14 of their MLAs were convicted of fraud and breach of trust in an expense account scam. Even the deputy premier was convicted, and given a year in prison.
  • Manitoba: The Legislature Building in Winnipeg itself stands as a symbol of political corruption — having been erected, almost literally, on a foundation of kickbacks and bribes. Manitoba’s lieutenant-governor ordered an unprecedented inquiry into the affair, which led to the resignation of the then-premier.
  • Ontario: One of the biggest political scandals in years saw the head of the Ontario air ambulance service secretly paying himself nearly $5 million over a two-year period, making him perhaps the highest-paid public official in Canadian history. A police investigation continues, and into gas plants, too.
  • Atlantic provinces: $4 million paid in bribes in Nova Scotia; a former New Brunswick premier quits politics entirely after becoming enmeshed in a construction conflict-of-interest scandal; a federal Conservative minister was accused of corruption in the House in a hydroelectric deal, and later lost his seat in a byelection.

And so on, and so on.

Is Quebec the worst? Decide for yourself. But before you start throwing stones, take a good look around you.

The chances are pretty good you live in a glass house.


  1. MoS says:

    What part of Canada is most corrupt? At the moment I’d say Ottawa. In Quebec it’s just old fashioned graft. In Ottawa what’s being filched is democracy itself (and fair elections).

    • PeggyW says:

      This is the issue we as Canadians should be most concerned with; we should be outraged en masse. Unfortunately, this is being overshadowed by all the other salacious headlines.

  2. JH says:

    Good column WK
    I have no doubt that given the examples we have before us, no person of integrity or worth would want to subject himself to what the political process has become at every level. Was it ever any different? I’m not so sure. Maybe in some individual cases it was and maybe that’s even true today. For the most part though good people who get involved in the process, seem to run away from it pdq once they get a real taste. Not the sleaze bags though.
    Much the same is true of most of the press, not just Patriquin. Listen to them on the talk shows and read what they write. With rare exceptrion, these are not honest ethical people. They all have their axes to grind and biases to pander to.
    Disgusting the lot of them! I’m so glad the summer break is upon us. What a relief!

  3. Jeremy says:

    Certainly every province has its share of political corruption, some more than others. It’s a bit of a stretch, though, to say Manitoba’s legislature scandal occurred “in recent years”!

  4. A. Berry says:

    What you all need to admit is the whole country is corrupt and becoming more so with every passing day. The qestion is WHY?

  5. ottlib says:

    Maybe Quebec is not any more corrupt that any other part of Canada. Maybe it is just a case of the corrupt in Quebec being inept at not getting caught.

  6. steve says:

    The age old question, is it incompetence or corruption? When smart people do stupid things is it because they are rewarded for being stupid? For me that is the tragedy of government. Natural monopolies are best managed by a government. I pray that some responsible people out there grab hold of this reality and right this ship.

  7. Bill says:

    Very interesting topic. Quebec is and has always been the most corrupt province in Canada. The reason is very clear and logical, it is because they have consistently held power at the highest level of government for many more years then any other province. Time to pay the piper for some of the people involved (to bad not all). If any other province held power for the majority of the time, like Quebec has, the same result would occur, it’s not a French thing, it a power thing, money flows to power. Greed and easy money is highly addictive to the people in control.

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