Municipal politics in Canada is a
“depository for the truly mad.”
comedian Rick Mercer
They are falling like dominoes!
Large, even small, municipal governments spend a lot of money to operate. The opportunity to get in on lucrative infrastructure projects, influence municipal zoning laws, commercial tax rates or contract out services is very tempting for some.
As we have seen in Quebec and Ontario, some unscrupulous municipal leaders have found ways to benefit personally from the offices they hold.
Rob Ford, Toronto’s loudmouth mayor will find out shortly if he is going to be booted from office for alleged conflict of interest.
The London Free Press has reported on issues related to two federal cheques from Public Works Canada, issued while Fontana was a minister and used to pay for the wedding reception of his son, Michael, in 2005.
Quebec’s anti-corruption unit has dug up a multitude of sins in the province’s scandal plagued construction industry. So far the mayor’s of Laval and Montreal have been forced out of office.
Former Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien faced bribery and influence-peddling charges. He was found not guilty but his political career is in shambles.
Legislation in this province clearly defines conflicts of interest and penalties for public officials accepting personal gains via the office they sit in. We have seen a rash of municipal staff charged and convicted for taking from the community chest.
Fortunately, we have not seen the level of corruption experienced in other jurisdictions. Does it happen here? Do consulting, engineering and paving companies reward municipal politicians? I suppose it could happen here.
The House of Assembly Scandal illustrated that corrupt practices are not always easy to uncover.
As a jurisdiction that encourages companies to contribute to the political process, one can not help but wonder what donors expect for their investment. Over 40% of the corporate donations raised by the Progressive Conservative Party in 2010 were provided by the province’s construction industry. Why so much? What do they expect in return?
Political donations from companies doing business with government, or hoping to, are strategic investments that they hope will pay off in terms of access to government officials, or favorable policy decisions.
It is one of the reasons why this province needs to rethink how political campaigns are funded at the municipal and provincial level.