Straight Talk
ERIC DUHAIME - Ford’s offence pales in comparison to Quebec mayors’ example

Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay announces his resignation during a news conference in Montreal, Nov. 5, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi


What is wrong with Torontonians?

Do they seriously want to boot out Mayor Rob Ford from office because he used office stationery to raise $3,150 for a football foundation so it could provide equipment for young players? I understand that life can often be boring in Canada’s biggest city, but why are Torontonians so desperate to imitate Montreal or Laval and eject their mayor as fast as possible?

Can’t they find anything interesting to do? Are they fed up with watching the current public inquiry into Quebec’s construction industry steal the top spot on the news every night?

Many Canadians all across the country feel your pain about living in the shadow of another city full of journalists and other people who think they are the centre of the universe, so get over it!

Gerald Tremblay left his Montreal office in City Hall on Nov. 5 following very serious allegations that his party received 3% of the value of public contracts awarded by the city to a mob-linked cartel.

Four days later, Gilles Vaillancourt resigned as Laval’s mayor after an anti-corruption unit searched his house and office for evidence of corruption while seizing his personal safes in four banks.

The current mayor of another northern Montreal suburb, Richard Marcotte in Mascouche, still refuses to give up his public office even though he got arrested a few months ago for corruption and is currently facing criminal charges.

By the time his full trial and appeals are done, it might well be the end of his mandate.

In Quebec, we are on the verge of having mayors managing their cities from their jail cells or literally handcuffed during city council meetings.

We are a far cry from politicians whose only crime is to have used the city’s letterhead to fundraise for a charity or an amateur sports team.

As columnist Yves Boisvert wrote in Tuesday’s La Presse: “Great minds in the Toronto media, too happy to get rid of this right-wing firebrand (read Rob Ford), seem to have too easily forgotten a principle of universal justice: The punishment needs to fit the crime. In the Toronto mayor’s case, we are applying a professional death penalty for a minor breach.”

Our activist friends on the left who have been trying to overthrow Ford since Day One should get a day job and do something useful for society as soon as possible.

And the idea of wasting

$7 million of taxpayers’ money to run a byelection for Toronto’s mayoralty should certainly not be their priority unless they want to get accused of real fraud and true misappropriation of public funds.

I understand our Ontarian neighbours are sometimes jealous of Quebecois’ “joie de vivre,” but you should stop mimicking Quebec for once.

While Quebec needs to tighten up its rules for awarding contracts for public infrastructure to eliminate corruption, Ontario must, on the contrary, lighten up and take a realistic look at its ethics rules so it won’t be ridiculed.

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