Monday, April 24, 2017

Why is Quebec So Dishonest?

If anything the aftermath of the Charbonneau Commission which focused on Quebec's culture of corruption is teaching us, it's that it's going to take a long time to reverse the climate of dishonesty that seems to pervade all aspects of Quebec society.
I'm not sure as a society we can.

This week saw a culmination of some very sad revelations and events, casting doubt on whether we are making any progress at all.

Now before we go on, let me stress that this dishonesty trait is not a 'French' thing, it's a 'Quebec' thing and spreads across all cultures and communities in Quebec.
Let me remind you that the two largest English school boards are both under  criminal investigation by UPAQ, the corruption police. The Jewish General Hospital also had its own corruption scandal, and let us not forget the infamous Arthur Porter payola scandal over the new English super-hospital.
Two weeks ago former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was convicted of fraud and has received a jail sentence.
So please, no holier than thou sentiments.

This week the trial began for three ex high-ranking Sureté du Quebec officers including one ex chief, who all are accused of dipping into the police force's secret slush fund used for undercover operations and for paying informants off the books.
The fund has little oversight other than the honesty of the high-ranking officers who are the caretakers and in this case, it seems that trust was sadly misplaced.

Also this week the election race for the 'Battonier' or head of the Barreau du Quebec (Quebec Bar Assoc.) took an ugly turn with accusations that board members illegally over-paid themselves for appearances to the tune of $500,000.
The person making the accusation is lawyer Lu Chan Khuong, the ex-battonier who is trying to win back her old job, a job from which she was forced to resign when it was revealed that she was arrested for shoplifting and allegedly received a preferential and secret non-judicial sentence. She kept the affair secret and only resigned after a newspaper published the facts.
I couldn't make up a story like that if I tried.

The government recently appointed an ex-deputy minister of Transport Quebec to look into the traffic disaster on Autoroute 13 where hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight in a blizzard due to organizational incompetence at that same Ministry of Transport and the utter failure of the police to handle the situation.
It turns out that the high-ranking police officer in Sureté du Quebec who was supposed to be in charge was goldbricking. Instead of manning his desk and overseeing operations, the officer was at a notary's office closing a real estate transaction for his moonlighting job.
Again I'm not making this up.
By the way, that man chosen to look into the matter Florent Gagné, doesn't exactly come with clean hands, having been accused of turning a blind eye to snow-removal collusion by the Charbonneau Commission when he ran Transport Quebec. His testimony at the Charbonneau Commission had the familiar ring of the unflappable Sgt. Schultz character of Hogan's Heroes fame. "I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing!"
When offering his ludicrous defence at that commission, the judge asked him pointedly "Did people know that you didn't want to know?"

Dishonesty at the Montreal Police force is rocking the organization with revelations that the Internal affairs department fabricated evidence to punish whistle blowers who were trying to denounce corruption on the force. The Montreal police were under fire for spying on journalists in order to discover whistle-blowers as well. Many high-ranking officers are implicated and so the two largest police forces in Quebec operate under a corruption cloud.  And to add insult to injury, it is the Sureté du Quebec which is investigating corruption at the Montreal Police. It should have been the RCMP who operate in Quebec with relatively clean hands, but the political fallout of the RCMP investigating the Montreal police would be too much of a humiliation.

Montreal mayor Denis Coderre is under fire for failing to disclose a $25,000 donation made to him in order to defray legal costs in a  defamation case. When first questioned about the undeclared gift, he outright lied, denying he had received it, and then when presented with proof, declared that he was under medication when he made the statement. Of course he remains un-scarred by the incident because in essence, it is 'small potatoes' in the Quebec context. 

Now last year, the Minster of Transport Robert Poëti hired an investigator, Annie Trudel, to uncover the shenanigans going on in his ministry. She quit in disgust as her work was being systematically sabotaged by high-ranking Transport Quebec employees, which included somebody falsifying information on a USB key that was to be submitted to the government detailing the collusion and corruption. UPAQ is now undertaking at least ten separate investigations of the department. The deputy minister, Dominique Savoie in charge took the fall and was relieved of her duties, but incredibly Poëti lost his cabinet job in revenge for Savoie's downfall, as she was a pet of Premier Couillard.
What happened to the disgraced Savoie? She now works in the premier’s executive council.
Again, I swear I'm not making this up. Link

The former Quebec lieutenant governor Lise Thibault has been sent to jail for cheating on her expenses to the tune of $700,000. She fought the charges for years and years, going so far as to claim immunity from prosecution because she represented the infallible Queen.
Now being the lieutenant governor is one of the cushiest jobs I can imagine and the honour of being chosen immeasurable. The lieutenant governor's job is to kiss babies and greet citizens, representing everything good in our society and it turns out that Thibault was just a nasty little thief.
Maybe we should let ex-mayor of Laval Gilles Vaillancourt, have a turn at the job when he gets out of jail. At least we'd have a big crook doing the job and someone who knows a thing or two about stealing public money big time.

And the political finance scandals that over these last few years have rocked each and every major political party lend credence that the political order is corrupt and dishonest.

I could go on and on, but what intrigues me is the WHY.
Why is Quebec so rampantly dishonest?

I thought about it a lot and tossed around the idea that perhaps turbulent political atmosphere due to the wrenching sovereignty debate might have something to do with it or perhaps the social upheaval  of the 60's and 70's but alas, none of that is true because Quebec has been corrupt for a very long time.

In 1909 another corruption commission held a hearing for five months and concluded that 25% of government revenues were stolen. Over the last 100 years, Quebec has convened five commissions looking into corruption and organized crime and so it is a tradition.

The editorial cartoon seen here appeared in 1909 depicts Judge Cannon who presided over that commission looking into dishonesty in Montreal. The caption on the bottom says that the judge never smelled a cheese that stank so much. The stinking wafting out over the cheese  includes the words "BRIBERY - INCOMPETENCE- PATRONAGE - FAVOURTISM.

The news even made the New York Times;
In over a hundred years things have not gotten any better.

So what makes Quebec so dishonest?
I can only come up with one final culprit.....PRIDE and RESPECT or the lack thereof.

The lack of pride and respect that Quebecers show towards their collective society is manifested in dishonesty.
Look around.
Police, fire, ambulance drivers disrespecting their own uniforms as a punishment for imposed contracts and the public who couldn't care less about the camouflage pants.
What self-respecting organization would humiliate themselves by dis-respecting their own uniform?
These same police who are not only corrupt, but terrorize minorities, all with the benign consent of the public who don't really care about human rights, only their own selfish situations.

Montreal has the sad history of the riot capital of North America. from the Maurice Richard riot to the Stanley Cup playoff riots to the Maple Spring riots  and the annual anarchist riots. All these destructive riots are based on trivialities and in Montreal a good riot is just another event where idiots enjoy destroying other peoples property.

All of this coupled with a lazy and ineffective justice system, that is loathe to enforce the law and uninterested in jailing criminals, especially white collar criminals.
I once went on scene in the aftermath of a burglary at one of the stores which I owned and met the police who recovered the jacket of the burglar who fled in haste. Unbelievably, the jacket actually contained his wallet and ID. I asked one of the policemen sarcastically if they thought they could catch him and was stunned by the reply that the wallet and jacket couldn't really be used as evidence, as no direct link could be made. In fact, in a followup phone call, the police informed me that no further action was undertaken in the case due to budget constraints.
Such is justice in Quebec, where this same lazy attitude, indifference and incompetence is repeated tens of thousands of times each year, encouraging people to be dishonest and keeping criminals out of jail and the street where they can ply their trade with virtual impunity.
I'll have more to say about Quebec's pitiful criminal justice in a further post.

All the while, Quebec remains the province where its citizens donate the least to charity and do the fewest volunteer hours. Clearly we care less about the society we live in than those in the rest of Canada.
In a poll, only 13% of Quebecers said they would report corruption if they witnessed it first hand.

As for family, Quebecers are the kings of packing off parents to government-run senior citizen homes, placing parents more than double the national average. And with all the bitching and moaning about university fees, parents also contribute the least towards their children's education, about half of what British Columbians do.

It isn't a rosy picture and I can't really say it's getting better.

To me, it comes down to pride and respect for one's own society and it is here where Quebecers fail miserably, their collective behaviour bordering on the self-loathing.

There are those of you who will pooh-pooh the idea that it is this lack of respect and pride that makes Quebec so dishonest..... Fair enough.
But like a defence lawyer trying to cast doubt on the prosecutions case, an alternate theory for this collective dishonesty must be offered and for that, all I can say is....GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!


  1. Because they are a tribal society. Because WE accepted the role of second class citizens. Because an unknown and unlamented hundreds of thousands of our brightest and best are in exile. And because new blood does not immigrate here. Because Murray was weak and ineffective and allowed New France to continue in it's corrupt ways. Because Canada ignores the Uncanadian behaviour to garner votes and "stave off separation"

    1. "Because WE accepted the role..."

      who's "WE"?

      "Because an unknown and unlamented hundreds of thousands of our brightest and best..."

      yes but not only the brightest, sauga left too.

      "And because new blood does not immigrate here."

      yes it does.

      "Because Canada ignores the Uncanadian behaviour..."

      you think there's less dishonesty in the roc? hahaha.

  2. There is indeed corruption in Québec and one angle is, in my view, overlooked : corruption seems to be mostly linked to federalism. One first thinks about the sponsorship scandal or the Charbonneau commission or about the Québec Libéral Party. The "better crooks than separatists" slogan is a nice illustration of this.

    And, as the Editor said, this is nothing new. Using the means of the british parlementarism, Papineau and the Parti Patriote, in their time, fought the corruption among the Chateau Clique. At the time, corruption was linked to colonialism. Colonialism then, federalism now. Same thing, different pile, I guess you would say.

    If colonialism and its new incarnation, federalism, are indeed one of the causes of corruption, the Editor might be right about the lack of respect. Those who Murray called "the most cruel, ignorant, rapacious fanatics, who ever existed, birds of passage, chiefly adventurers of mean education" had indeed little respect for the nation that they lived in and they "all [had] their fortunes to make and little sollicitous about the means, provided the end is obtained."(Murray)

    And today, I don't feel much self respect and self pride from those whose political project is to essentially keeping Québec from gaining independence without proposing any other goal or ambition or vision behond the numbing day to day immobilism in which we are stuck and whose last argument is "we can't because we live off equalization payments".

    To paint a broad, complete and honest picture of corruption in Québec, one cannot conviniently overlook the link with federalism. Federalism is of course not the only cause of corruption, but it is an issue than provides food for thought for one who is so intrigued by the "why" and who has "thought about it a lot".

    1. @MichelPatrice

      Colonialism you say? Just what was the French conquest of New France?

      If France had been victorious in 1759/60 - it might be English North American speakers who are in the minority in North America. Ok one side lost so... And let us not forget the Native peoples who were the real losers in this battle of two colonial powers.

      So also, I just read in the morning paper that the P Q must reimburse 6 figures of donations. What do you call that?

      Sponsorship scandal? How about the fact that it is well known that stuffing of the ballot box occurred in the 1995 referendum and by perhaps some of the very folks you praise.

      Now what happened to those tainted ballots? We will never know. Those ballots were conveniently destroyed. Talk about corruption...

      You would like minority groups to vote PQ. I don't blame you for that. They seem to have a very different idea as to what is in their own interest than you do. And I don't blame them for that either.

    2. "Now what happened to those tainted ballots? We will never know. Those ballots were conveniently destroyed. Talk about corruption..." Because the PQ had everything to lose if the truth came out. Today, they are walking free, all set to be rescued at the very last second by the Liberals for the express purpose of keeping English Montreal on their knees.

    3. @michel patrice

      yes you're right. and the editor is right also to single out a lack of pride and respect to explain dishonesty, corruption, and all the bad things qlp affiliates are accused of.

      in fact, when you do have pride and respect, you want to make your family better, your community better and your society better. it's also common sense to assume a proud and respectful individual will want to manage his budget himself, rather than give his money to the neighbor hoping he'll use it wisely. yes you see me coming a proud and respectful individual, in the quebec context, is also a separatist.

      on the other hand, people with no pride or respect will not want to become independant, they will always think they can't do it, and they will believe those who tell them so. there are enough of these in quebec to legetimate the existence of a political party to represent them: the quebec liberal party. so when they get power, what are they going to be after if not a better society like proud people would try to build? you got it, a quick buck.

      of course here i'm detailing why the french canadian qlp enthusiast is bad. the english canadian lpq enthusiast has another motive to support the crooks: he's canadian. and here comes the famous west island moto better a crook than a separatist. that's a pity though. all his life the angryphone will vote against the parti québécois to make sure french canadians never get to control their own affairs. i will always wonder why they can't reason long enough to see that if they voted for separation they would end up, in an independant quebec, with an anglo party that would really represent them in a proportional electoral system rather than the zero representation they get from a corrupt qlp run by french canadian crooks.

    4. @student

      What nonsense.

      Especially from the perspective of anyone who is not a pur et dur nationalist - your reasoning makes little sense.

      The dishonesty of your portrayal of those who do not believe a "Quebec Republic" is necessary or even of overall benefit is pretty incredible actually; though hardly surprising.

      It is something one can read routinely in various comments and editorials in Le Devoir for example. Sorry I am not impressed.

      There are a myriad of reasons that minority communities would be much worse off in an independent Quebec run by people with nationalist perspectives much like yourself.

      Beyond that, the intellectual dishonesty that nationalists in Quebec express their reasons for the "need" for an independent Quebec are of little use to any Quebecer - English, French or anyone else for that matter.

      Good luck with convincing the majority with your argument sir.

    5. @anonymous

      it's quite obvious that you don't agree with me. but from your comment it's impossible to understand why. it's empty.

    6. In my original comment in reply to M Patrice I certainly pointed out much of the hypocrisy as well as dishonesty of nationalists in Quebec all too often.

      If you are asking about other instances of dishonesty, hypocrisy and plain poor reasoning of nationalists in this province - there is no shortage of it unfortunately really.

      Do I start with the false myths about Federalism that are routinely repeated "ad nauseum" by nationalists in Quebec or the draconian aspects of certain legislation and policy on the part of the PQ with respect to "identity" and language legislation?

      Again - people vote for the representatives that are relatively the best -or usually unfortunately the lesser of all poorer choices with respect to parties and candidates that they can vote for in an election. I understand you happen to like the PQ and dislike the Liberals. Unfortunately (for you I guess...) most in the minority communities do not have the same outlook that you seem to have...

    7. @anonymous

      "In my original comment in reply to M Patrice I certainly pointed out..."

      sure. but what i'm interested in is knowing why you think what i wrote doesn't make sense.

      "If you are asking about other instances of dishonesty,..."

      no that's not what i'm asking at all. i'm asking why you don't agree that pride and respect leads one to seek independance while the opposite, misery and dishonor leads to submissiveness? or in the quebec context, the former kit leads to support quebec's independance while the later leads to support quebec liberal party.

      "Do I start with the false myths about Federalism that are routinely repeated "ad nauseum" by nationalists in Quebec..."

      ok you can start with that, what are they?

      "the draconian aspects of certain legislation and policy on the part of the PQ with respect to "identity" and language legislation?"

      i guess you refer to forbiding religious outfits for state employees? like germany just did, is that it? and the language thing, do you refer to the obligation shopkeepers have of including a french version in their postings? that's not draconian, it's respect. or did you have other examples in mind? you're not explicit at all, so i have to guess a little here. but it's not very difficult, angryphones always moan the same things over and over again.

      "I understand you happen to like the PQ and dislike the Liberals."

      of course, don't you?!?!

      "most in the minority communities do not have the same outlook that you seem to have..."

      why not?!?

    8. @student

      Draconian?... How about a 15 year ban on tbe English language on virtually all signage in Quebec.

      And I should add it was only through the intervention of the Supreme Court if Canada that this was oart of the original language legislation dating back to 1977 -was finally overturned...

      Let us start with this instead of going all over the place. I'll let you respond. Your turn.

    9. @student

      I could not help but notice that you seem to be at a loss for words with regards to the ban of the English langage on almost all signage in Quebec.

      So I'll make it even easier for you...

      How about the claim by nationalists that Pierre Trudeau somehow deliberately humiliated all Quebecers by bringing home the constitution in 1982.

      This despite the fact that it was obvious - that it was politically advantageous as well as the intention of  Rene Levesque not to sign into the new constitution of Canada at the time.

      Just another of the many nationalist myths repeated over and over and over again...

      To underscore this even more - you can go all the way back to the 1971 Victoria Constitutional Conference. Robert Bourassa kept hedging on adding Quebec's signiture to any agreement. Why? There just was not the political will to do so in Quebec apparently (according to those present at the conference).

  3. Somewhere along the way, someone must have read deeply into the strategem that states, "Exchange the roles of host and guest." We were conditioned to be selfish indolent idiots, not the least bit helped by cheesy reality television, and bombarded with the latest iThis and iThat ads, until our souls were destroyed. "What's in it for me?" is hardly a new thing, but our current Mayor took it to an unheard-of extreme.

    And given what came of the Charbonneau commission, the locals are afraid to risk what little they have left because there's a good chance they'll die for nothing.

  4. Ouf....que de malveillance fédéraliste...La malhonnêteté des Québécois est le fait des Québécois de première classe Canadiens et en guerre contre le peuple Québé falsification historique