Friday, April 10, 2009

Ex-Finance Minister Bamboozles Press About her Resignation

Monique Jérôme-Forget resigned as Quebec finance Minister and talked about going to Mexico with her family to learn Spanish. At a shmaltzy press conference, she waxed poetic and joked about buying the Canadiens, moving them to Mexico and calling them 'Los Canadiens.' Her ad libs were a bit too polished and prepared, to be off the cuff and it is clear she was working the room. At any rate, the Quebec press was quite willing to give her a pass, it's viewed as bad form to harangue someone announcing her retirement.

The Liberal party has been hinting at her resignation for about a month and have spread the fiction that it was somehow planned before the last election. All this to avoid the appearance of dissent in the ranks and the fact that Jérôme-Forget was fed up taking heat for the Premier and defending policies she did not support. At 68 years old, she clearly had enough.
"-- Monique Jérôme-Forget, la dame de fer du gouvernement libéral, a quitté, hier, la vie politique, après l'adoption de son dernier budget, comme elle l'avait planifié avant les élections." -Le Devoir

"Monique Jérôme-Forget, the iron lady of the Liberal government, yesterday left, after the adoption of her last budget, as she planned before the elections." -Le Devoir

But the myth that she knew she'd be resigning early, even before she ran in last December's Quebec election should not go unchallenged.

Madame Jérôme-Forget resigned 17 weeks after being elected. If she sought elected office, knowing that she'd be resigning that early and if the Premier knew, they owe taxpayers an explanation.
It will cost something in the neighbourhood of $500,000 to hold a bye-election to replace her. Nobody who plans to resign shortly after getting elected should ever be given permission by a political party to run.

Monique Jérôme-Forget resigned because of the uncomfortable position she was thrust into by the Premier. The pressure of maintaining certain fictions concerning the deficit, the disaster at the Caisse de Depot and the hiring of Michael Sabia to run the Caisse, were clearly to much for her to handle. Recently, the press and the opposition pounded away at her mercilessly and it became too much for her to bear. Her usual calm and collected demeanour appeared frayed and it became apparent that the job was beyond her competence.

When politicians resign early, it always begs the question. Why?

Better job offer?
Burnout? It's always something.

Any politician who tells you that he, or she is leaving to retire early, or to spend more time with family, or to pursue unnamed opportunities in the private sector, is lying.
It's hard enough getting elected, politicians fight tooth and nail to win power and don't give it up for no valid reason. It goes against the nature of politicians and the press corps has an obligation to discover the real reason for such a departure, it's their job.

When Frank Zampino retired last May from his powerful job as Chairman of the City of Montreal's executive committee with 17 months remaining on his mandate, alarm bells should of sounded.

"After 22 years in public affairs, it appeared to be time for me to refocus my energy on new professional challenges."
-Frank Zampino at his press conference, announcing his retirement.

He went on to tell reporters that while he had no offers, he was leaving politics to look for work in the private sector.
What a crock!
I couldn't believe that the crap he was feeding the room, went unchallenged.
The burning question that should have been asked was;
"Do you really expect us to believe that you're quitting the second most powerful position in the city of Montreal, to go on a speculative job hunt in the private industry?"

But nobody asked. They were too polite or too dumb.

Today, Mr. Zampino is back in the news and as you can guess, it's all for the wrong reasons.
It turns out the real reason for his departure is more traditional- scandal.

Apparently, while in office, he had a very close connection with a Laval businessman, Antonio Accurso, who snagged a huge water meter contract with the city, one which has been suspended due to a RCMP investigation. It's been reported, that the water meters provided to the city cost three and a half times more than similar ones purchased by the City of Toronto. A number of Accurso's other companies are also under investigation by the Quebec police and Revenue department, in relation to possible tax evasion schemes. Raids have taken place and records have been seized from at least three of his companies.

Mr. Zampino, while in office, was quite close to Mr. Accurso. He was a guest on Mr. Accurso's luxury yacht for two Caribbean vacations. At least one trip occurred while the water meter contract negotiations with the city were ongoing. Is it surprising, that he now works as senior vice-president, for one of the companies related to that very same water meter contract.

I guess Mr. Zampino didn't have to print up too many resumés and that his job hunt didn't last too long.

I hope Madame Forget will tell the truth about her true motives for resigning, but she probably won't, being quite the lady. She is the second innocent victim of the Caisse de Depot scandal.
The first was Richard Guay, the man who took over the top job at the Caisse when Henri-Paul Rousseau abandoned ship. He was so affected by the disastrous financial situation and the fact that he was keeping it secret, that he succumbed to burnout and left on sick leave. We haven't heard a word from him since.

The next time you here a politician announce that he or she is retiring for no apparent reason, call out the bloodhounds, there's a story to be unearthed.

No comments:

Post a Comment