The wind of corruption has blown away any political stability and credibility within Montreal and its surrounding areas in the past few months. In June of last year, Jacques Duchesneau ratified the Charbonneau Inquiry to further investigate the suspicious activity of the administration of public construction projects.
The construction industry seems to be under the most scrutiny, following allegations of corruption in its operations. No wonder Quebec has such terrible roads! Our harsh winters were always the scapegoat answer, but now the truth has finally been revealed. The mismanagement of money, faulty contracts, and favoritism has come to be the norm in the realm of construction and government functioning. Talks of “dirty money” seem to be getting more and more common, causing much angst amongst the public. People are highly skeptical and mistrusting of the management of funds related to the relationship between the government and its assignation of building contracts.
The Charbonneau commission has had several political implications and repercussions. It has brought attention to such scandal. Political upheaval is becoming the norm; instability is common, and uncertainty has become a daily occurrence. Firstly, during the recent elections in Quebec this past September, corruption was the center of debate for the candidates, gearing their attention to the loopholes of the current government. Secondly, it has led to the reshaping of positions at the internal level. Several council members have resigned, or have been forced to, as a way of protecting the little credibility and reputation they have left.
However, this is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to Quebec. Far beyond its borders and over to the European continent, the same problem can be found in southern Italy. Rumours of corruption are becoming truths, as roads are deteriorating and bridges collapsing, or are simply being left unfinished. This quite similarly resembles the situation in Quebec. One can make the statement that good infrastructure is evidence of a well performing, and corrupt free government. Clearly, the cities of Montreal and Calabria (and its neighbouring towns) are in desperate need of rebuilding. Well kept roads are key for proper communication and linkage. Seemingly, economic concerns preside over safety, as completed public work do not allow for prosperity. Things need to change. The road to a corrupt free politics starts with repaved roads and crack-free highways. Progress in southern Italy is stifled by the lack of bridging between cities, a direct consequence of mismanagement of monetary resources allocated for such work. Once again, all alleged malfeasance by political leaders was obviously denied. Funding needs to be properly allocated and monitored, and bureaucrats need to be held accountable and made trustworthy.
One of the primary concerns of such scandalous affairs is the ignorance of the public. Not because they wish to be ignorant, but because transparency is absent. Ignorance is never blissful, and citizens should not be left in the dark. They deserve to be truthfully informed about what is actually happening behind the closed doors of City Hall. A solution has been sought; Ouvert Quebec formed an anti-corruption plan, “hackathon,” which urged for the collaborative efforts of programmers and hackers to create software to overshadow the expenditures of the government. This would allow for citizen engagement in the process of rooting out corruption. Their involvement and input enable the sharing of public opinion about the issue and setting up a forum where resolutions can be exchanged. This all generates a healthier public sphere, where democracy can thrive and instill a sense of power among the people. This empowerment will hopefully limit the shady behaviour of bureaucrats, knowing they are constantly under close watch of the public. Raising awareness is the best way to inform citizens. Though this medium was previously non-existing, no longer leaving citizens in the dark gives them the knowledge necessary to formulate opinions and act upon them.
Perhaps the corruption frenzy can be attenuated by the recent election of the new interim mayor of Montreal, Michael Applebaum. Following the resignation of Gerard Tremblay, Applebaum has his work cut out for him. At the top of his agenda, is the necessity to restore credibility, truthfulness, and reliability in the eyes of the public.
Maybe the ship of corruption has sailed, disappearing like the autumn wind. Applebaum promises to make good riddance of corruption, if that is at all possible. A new leader always offers the possibility of a clean slate. Montreal is on its way to a new start, one where talks of corruption hopefully become muffled. My wish for Montreal is one of borders characterized by imaginary lines, and not terrible roads. Only then can we say that corruption has truly been dissolved. At the very least, it is a progressive step forward.
– Chloe Giampaolo