Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quebec Corruption Story Would Make a Great Television Series

Watching unfolding events surrounding Quebec's construction industry scandal over corruption, I'm struck by how much life imitates art.

For those of you old enough to remember the old The Untouchables television show, there remains remarkable similarities between that series, which chronicled the 1930's battle between the forces of good, embroiled in an epic battle with criminals for control of Chicago.

The show highlighted various Mafia dons, crooked politicians and cops, public servants on the take, various goons and a frustrated public caught in the middle of it all.

Sound familiar?

If any of our local networks is looking for a good idea for a television series with a Quebec take, I heartily recommend a remake of the above-mentioned series to be entitled "LES INTOUCHABLES."

Each week the show would highlight an episode in the ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil, all in a riveting Quebecois context.

Let me offer a preview of what the pilot show might be like;
The Pilot
Our first episode begins in the condo of Labour Minister Lise Thiconne, an attractive forty-something woman, who is enjoying a candlelight dinner with her boyfriend. The romantic atmosphere is interrupted by a ringing telephone. The Minister saunters over to the counter, wine glass in hand, all the while making googly eyes at her boyfriend. 
All of a sudden the blood drains from her face and her glass of wine goes crashing to the floor as she starts to shake uncontrollably.
 "What's wrong!" asked her boyfriend as he leaps to her side."
"He... He said he'd break my legs if I continued to push my anti-union legislation!"
"That Bastard!!!
Cut to a Parliamentary Committee Room where the head of Quebec's largest construction union, Louis Arnaquer, is being interrogated. Far from being intimidated, the thoroughly sinister labour leader seems to be basking in the spotlight. Making snide and veiled threats, he tells the Parliamentarians that if they are to go through with legislation to reduce the power of the unions, there would be Hell to pay.
"What kind of retaliation?" asked the labour minister
"I cannot say!" replies the union leader with a devilish grin, "I cannot control the membership if they are angry and want to spontaneously demonstrate their displeasure"

Cut to the scene of a construction site where union 'organizers' are 'asking' reluctant workers to walk off the job.
The half dozen goons are led by AndrĂ© 'BebĂ©' Desbarets an imposing 300 pound gorilla who is personally responsible for enforcing 'solidarity' among members. When one brave worker challenges the order to leave, a tense confrontation occurs wherein the goons threaten his family. "Teztoi, tab-ar-nak! Sinon, onvat-fair tabasser " 
The scene switches to another labour site, this time beside the mighty St.Lawrence river in Trois-Rivieres, where workers are undertaking a risky underwater salvage job. Goons enter the work site, again demanding that all work be halted. But when the workers balk at the order, goons start switching off power equipment, including a generator that is providing power to a pump feeding oxygen to divers below the water. This over the desperate pleas of co-workers.
(note: This scene may have to be deleted because it is too unrealistic -editor)

Premier Jean Boucle D'Or is pacing across the floor of his Quebec City Parliamentary office.
After a political lifetime of making dubious compromises in the name of financing his political machine, time has finally caught up with him, as the public's patience with him over his duplicity has run out. Faced with certain defeat at the polls come next election, he embarks on a mission to put things right.

Sitting patiently on a couch in front of the Premier is ex-Police Commissioner Jacques "Dutchy" Bongars whose reputation as an incorruptible crime-fighter has led the Premier to enlist his help in going after all those that have seized illegal control of the province.

"It won't be easy Mr. Premier, we have to go after the unions, the crooked government employees and most of all the mafia bosses that control it all."
After a pause in which the Premier reflects upon the words, the ex-cop continues.
"And that means facing off with Anthony "The Curse" Saccura. It'll be an epic battle, Mr. Premier, so if you're not ready to take him down, let me know now."
In a traditional Italian coffeehouse on Jean Talon Street in Montreal, Anthony Saccura is holding court with a coterie of underlings. Francisco Zamboni his trusted lieutenant is assuring the leader that everybody who knows anything compromising is being encouraged to keep their mouths shut. Saccura remains worried. Another underling assures Saccura that this too shall pass. "We've been at this forty years, we've seen crime busters before. Let's just keep our cool and deal with things as they come up. Boss, trust me. Any problems and we know how to deal with it." With a a flourish, he points to a wad of cash on the table and breaks out into a wide grin, then theatrically pulls a gun out of his waistband, brandishing it about, an unmistakable demonstration, just to show how he believes they should deal with any 'problems'. The henchmen erupt in laughter. Saccura leans back in his chair and watches the scene pensively, not quite so confident.
At the police station house, Cpt. Bongars is sitting on a desk in front of 50 officers representing his newly formed team of hard-nosed investigators, those he has hand-picked for the epic battle unfolding.
After swearing allegiance to the principle of justice, the team, appropriately  nicknamed les Cinq-Oh, is ready for action.
Captain Bongars' chief lieutenant Daniel "Dano' Dussault is running down assignments when a female detective bursts into the room.
"An overpass has collapsed in Laval, probably due to shoddy construction and there's been a bombing in a Montreal North pizzeria!"

"Saddle up people!" shouts Captain Bongars "Our fight begins!"

Hmmmmm ....
How about it readers?
Any suggestions for additional characters. Plot lines?


  1. How do you tackle corruption that has seeped so intensely into Quebec Society? How do you expect politicians to act when the Mafia not only threatens you but your entire family with bodily harm. The pressure must be enormous.. Not that I'm trying to make excuses for the crooked, but I'm simply asking the question...

  2. You start by dismantling laws that forbid out of province firms from bidding on contracts and tenders in Quebec. Isn't it strange that Quebec firms are allowed to work in Ottawa but Ontario firms are barred from working in Gatineau (across a bridge)? This all conveniently plays into the whole language Can of Worms that we Canadians in Quebec have to deal with. By law a work place must conform to Bill 101, ergo outside firms are not allowed to do work here in Quebec unless they offer a French workplace even if their work is of a better quality and a lower cost to the taxpayer.