Shock ... Dismay ...?The corruption enquiry in Quebec has graduated finally from witness implications of municipal mayors, and members of the municipal bureaucracy along with local political parties financing their operations and personal bank accounts with 'contributions' from corrupt business practices to, finally, looking at the provincial level. And expectations haven't been disappointed. Michel Lalonde, president of an engineering firm that did plenty of business in Quebec has detailed his firm's willingness to support political parties.
"I always contributed to all political parties. I never considered not paying", he said. So his firm, Genius Conseil, saw nothing amiss in contributing to Vision Montreal, the main opposition party in Montreal politics. And did likewise for the political campaigns ongoing in boroughs around Montreal, jockying to elect their mayors. Of course the payoffs - 'contributions', were not confined to the municipal level.
Evidently in his company's efforts to secure public contracts, contributions were generously allotted wherever it was estimated they might do some good. And it did, the company received their share of contracts that went out to all professional groups that had the good sense to grease the palms that would make it happen. Beyond bid-rigging at the municipal level, Mr. Lalonde testified that gifts were given to a member of a Transport Department selection committee.
After all, Mr. Lalonde was president of Genius Conseil and it was his concern to increase his company's business opportunities, to ensure that future contracts would go their way. And, in contributing to all political parties, he boasted, he was aiding democracy. In his company's zeal to be more democratic than the law permits, about $240,000 ended up in the accounts of Quebec's three political parties.
Quebec's chief returning officer tabled documents showing that between 1996 and 2011, the Parti Quebecois - which had been adamant and righteous that the former Liberal government of Jean Charest pursue the matter of corruption and launch a committee to investigate corruption in the building trades - received the lion's share, $117,445. The provincial Liberals were next with $93,640, while the now-defunct (merged) l'Action democratique du Quebec got $28,700.
Contributions, explained Mr. Lalonde, were made by many of Genius employees, even their spouses; and reimbursed through expense accounts and bonuses, the better to launder the illegal 'contributions' so as not to enrage the law banning corporate political donations and individual donation limits. Just doing his very best on behalf of democracy, despite the inconvenience of having to resort to such ploys to circumvent nuisance laws.
The public will no doubt continue to be further entertained by revelations that have lost their element of shock and disappointment.