Straight Talk
EDITORIAL - Flaherty must follow the money

Students from a photography class take photos of Montreal's city hall as raids by the province's anti-corruption squad take place in Montreal, February 19, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS/CHRISTINNE MUSCHI

QMI AGENCY

Too bad Mario Puzo is dead.

The Godfather author would have had a field day with the testimony this week of Nicolo (Mr. Sidewalk) Milioto at Quebec's corruption inquiry.

"The Mafia?" responded Milioto. "Is it someone who kills? Someone who steals? Someone who sells drugs? I don't know." This is writer's gold.

The retired construction boss, caught on surveillance video with notorious Montreal crime leader Nick Rizzuto cramming wads of money into his socks, claimed he didn't know the Cafe Consenza in Montreal's east end was a famous Mafia hangout.

Why would he? He was only spotted there 236 times.

Pizzo, the so-called Mafia tax?

Never heard of it, said Milioto, alleged to be a major conduit between the mob and lucrative provincial and municipal construction projects.

Police authorities are now trying to spin the line that there is no "direct" connection between the corruption inquiry and massive raids Tuesday at Montreal's city hall, including the offices of Interim Mayor Michael Applebaum.

It was only back in November, remember, that long-time Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay resigned in scandal, swamped with allegations that his administration was corrupt, and that he turned a blind eye to electoral misspending by his Union Montreal party.

As for those brown envelopes of cash known to be circulating within certain municipal departments?

Only rumours, Tremblay told the inquiry.

Who did Tremblay then blame for all the corruption? Why, the former Liberal government of Jean Charest, of course.

The voters of Quebec took care of the Charest Liberals, albeit by giving the separatist Parti Quebecois a razor-thin minority government that will have a very short shelf life.

In 2012-13, however, Quebec is expected to receive $7.8 billion in federal equalization payments, more than twice that of "have-not" Ontario.

As Finance Minister Jim Flaherty sits down to pen a budget that must keep the promise of eliminating Canada's $26-billion federal deficit within two years, he must look at Quebec and demand extra accountability for where that equalization money will be going.

Anything going to infrastructure, regardless of the level of government, must be red-flagged -- checked, and then double-checked.

Quebec politicians have earned no right to be trusted.

Everything should be treated with suspicion.

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