|Applebaum arrest pictures|
What surprised me about the arrest was not that it happened, but rather how it happened.
The mayor was woken early this morning, arrested and driven down to the police headquarters with reporters tipped off and the car hauling him in conveniently stopping before going into the police garage, providing a photo-op that is the modern version of the perp-walk.
That disrespectful treatment is reserved for those arrests that police are most proud of and so without knowing any of the details, I can only conclude that the police have Applebaum dead to rights.
That Quebec is the most corrupt province in Canada is certainly proven beyond any reasonable doubt but the logical conclusion that Quebecers are the most dishonest people in Canada doesn't follow.
I know that I'll be offering an unpopular view today, but I cannot in good conscious listen to the ROC gleefully gloat without defending the good people of Quebec who are by and large humiliated and furious at those that betrayed the public trust.
If guillotining was permitted, there would no doubt be an enraged mob marching on city hall, shouting "Off with their heads!"
I wouldn't recommend that any of the crooks who will face corruption trials choose to be tried before a jury. Quebecers are just itching to get revenge and no defense, no matter how robust, will save any of these bums from being convicted.
And so I am going to say that Quebec is well on its way to rehabilitation and I daresay that within a few short years it will be one of the least corrupt places in North America.
Yup....I mean it.
Like a drug addict who has to fall to the lowest point before seeking help, Quebec has certainly hit rock bottom and it is here where we can collectively decide to wallow in our own mess or clean up our act for good.
Quebec and Quebecers have chosen. Corruption will soon end, believe me.
Now regular readers know I spend a fair amount of time in New York City and hardly a visit goes by where I don't read a news story of some new public official arrested for corruption in a state where dishonest politicians are legend and where corruption has been part and parcel of the political process forever.
The corruption is so pervasive that dozens of members of the State legislature, both Democrat and Republican have been arrested over the last decade.
Things never seem to change and currently there is a new crop of legislators facing indictment;
"The state of New York's legislature, whose dysfunction has long proved a spectator sport, added a new chapter Wednesday as public-corruption investigations that have touched five officials in the past month brought seven more elected officials into public scrutiny" Link
"The latest, former Democratic state Sen. Shirley Huntley, was sentenced Thursday to spend a year and a day in prison for stealing $88,000 from a charity she controlled. A day earlier, a federal judge had unsealed records showing that Huntley last year secretly recorded conversations with seven other elected officials she suspected of corruption.By the way, if Shirley Huntley got one year in jail for stealing $88,000, I can only imagine what our Quebec crooks would get for stealing millions....but I digress.
Among them were Malcolm Smith and John Sampson, both former Democratic leaders of the Senate who have already been indicted.
"It's a culture of corruption, there's no question about it," said Seymour Lachman, a former Democratic state senator. "It's very sad that you have at this point in New York state, the Empire State, more corrupt officials than any other state."
Read: How New York Became One Of The Most Corrupt States
At any rate, I bring up the New York State corruption situation because quite frankly there really hasn't been enough public outrage to force politicians to clean up their act and so as you can imagine, corruption persists.
I imagine that I'll be reading about more crooked New York politicians for the foreseeable future because nothing will change with the apathetic attitude demonstrated by the public. They don't really seem to care and in fact regularly re-elect politicians that have less than clean hands.
Today the name of ex-mayor Rudolph Giuliani is being bandied about for a possible presidential run, yet serious accusations about his judgement in his personal and professional life don't seem to bother voters. Read a damning piece about his honesty.
But this lack of interest by the public is most certainly not the case here in Quebec. The public and voters in particular, are royally pissed.
There isn't a chance in Hell of forgiving those who cheated and stole, the public is in no mood to be charitable.
The demand to root out, arrest and prosecute those who cheated taxpayers remains the number one issue of all Quebecers, transcending all political, religious, race and language lines.
If Applebaum and Saulie Zajdel (a counselor arrested along with Applebaum) are eventually convicted of corruption, there won't be an ounce of support for them in the Jewish community. Already waves of humiliation are rocking the community over the arrests.
The same goes for the Italian community, the Francophone and Anglophone community as well as the Black community, all deeply hurt and humiliated at the dishonor brought upon them by the alleged crooks.
In this province, unlike New York, those convicted or even accused of corruption become toxic and untouchable.
Already many of those who testified at the Charbonneau commission and who received immunity for candidly describing their illegal involvement in corruption are feeling the wrath of an unsympathetic public. One by one, they are being pushed out by their employers who no longer want to be associated with them. And good luck finding a new job, because for potential employers, these people are radioactive.
In 2009 a reluctant Premier Charest did in fact set Quebec on the road to redemption.
The creation of the Charbonneau Commission and more importantly UPAC (Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit) whose raison d'etre is described by its commander;
"Our job is to prevent, investigate and verify in the fight against crimes related to corruption, collusion and fraud in the awarding and execution of public contracts. "-Robert LafrenièreThe key in all this is the word 'permanent' where Quebec is the only province to have such a high-powered full-time anti-corruption unit in force.
During the Charbonneau hearings, one theme that was oft repeated by many of the slimy crooks who testified, was that corruption virtually ceased with the creation of the UPAC unit back in 2009.
With corruption on everybody's mind, Quebecers will be monitoring how their money is being spent very closely.
Concerned citizens , along with UPAC will be placing the fear of God in those tempted to graft.
Unlike the drug trade, corruption is not a zero-sum game.
When one drug dealer is arrested, another promptly takes his place, but when someone is arrested for corruption, it is like shaving your legs, where the next batch of hair grows back finer and more slowly.
Next year will see the beginning of the many trials of the alleged thieves and I can only hope that if and when they are found guilty, that the judge throws the book at them.
In the meantime the hardest part is over, admitting to a problem and embarking on the cure. It is manifestly apparent that Quebecers want to be corruption free and ordinary citizens themselves are showing those in power that they mean business.
No longer will town council meetings be sterile affairs, sparsely attended by a complacent public. People will ask questions and demand transparency, which is of course, the key to eliminating corruption.
If you are one of those who believe that Quebecers are inherently more dishonest than Canadians, you are probably one that believes in other negative stereotypes.
Calling Quebecers a gang of thieves is no different than saying the same about Blacks, Jews or Italians, where not many would dare say so out loud.
This dark period of arrests is the beginning of the end of systemic corruption in Quebec, because honest Quebecers will tolerate nothing less.