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International Respectability

Edward Campbell

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dapaterson said:
So, to recap:

The mayors of Montreal and Laval have quit under a cloud.

The mayor of London (ON) has been charged for allegedly using public money when he was a member of parliament to pay for his son's wedding reception.

And today a judge will release his decision on whether or not the mayor of Toronto is to be removed from office.


On the plus side, Ontario is proving that corruption isn't just a Quebec problem any more...


Somewhat  :eek:ff topic: but: Mayor Rob Ford has been removed from office ... my guess is his appeal will be filed today!
 

The Bread Guy

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Retired AF Guy said:
I don't consider what Mayor Ford is alleged to have done as being corruption; dumb yes, but not corruption.
If this is correct ....
.... Ford had been accused of violating council's conflict guidelines after he spoke to and voted on whether to accept an Integrity Commissioner's report critical of how he raised funds for his football charity last February.

Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper had ordered Ford to repay $3,000.

Council voted with Ford to reject the report but a private citizen then complained Ford should not have spoken or cast a ballot on the issue ....
.... then to me, it fits this definition:
....  impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle ....
You shouldn't vote on or discuss an item where you are the subject of the item.  That said, it'll be interesting to see how the legal beagles parse the decision, the City of Toronto Code of Conduct  and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act in any appeal.
 

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E.R. Campbell said:
Somewhat  :eek:ff topic: but: Mayor Rob Ford has been removed from office ... my guess is his appeal will be filed today!

You guessed correctly. Already announced that he will appeal.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Stupid, so many people in senior postions just can't grasp simple ethics. I trusted my assistant view on ethics far more than my DG's. and I was correct.
 

Edward Campbell

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And it just gets messier ... now, according to the Globe and Mail, Pierre Duhaime, former President and CEO of SNC Lavalin has been arrested by Quebec's provincial anti-corruption squad which is, inter alia, investigating a billion-dollar contract SNC and its partners struck to build a new hospital for McGill University. This is over and above the Swiss investigation into bribes in North Africa.
 

Edward Campbell

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I'm putting this here because I suspect that the Vieux-Port thing has come to a head because of the ongoing stench of corruption.

David Akin reports, in the Toronto Sun that the Société du Vieux-Port de Montreal Inc. (an organization established by Brian Mulroney (1992) but avidly supported by Liberals, too) will be disbanded and the operations will be folded into the parent Canada lands Corporation. David Akin highlights the lavish overspending and questionable executive skills of Vieux-Port CEO Claude Benoit but she, I suspect, is just a catalyst. There were rumours about shady dealings back in 1992, involving Bernanrd Lamarre, longtime CEO of SNC Lavalin, whose company, amongst many, many other government contracts, redeveloped the Old Port of Montreal.

I'm guessing that there is more to come about the dealings of SNC Lavalin and many other Quebec firms over the decades.
 

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I post this hear due to two parts: 1) a change in corporate leadership has resulted in well publicized investigation into bribery in Africa in exchange for oil rights  and 2) the possible role of a prominent ex-politician.

http://gold.globeinvestor.com/servlet/ArticleNews/story/GI/20130131/escenic_8102318/stocks/news/&back_url=yes
Exclusive: Chrétien played key role in controversial Chad oil deal
JACQUIE McNISH and CARRIE TAIT
06:00 EST Friday, Feb 01, 2013
 
TORONTO and CALGARY — Former prime minister Jean Chrétien played an instrumental role in persuading the government of Chad to grant lucrative oil and gas rights in 2009 to Calgary’s Griffiths Energy International Inc., says the country’s former ambassador to Canada.

Mahamoud Bechir said he attended a meeting with Mr. Chrétien and the country’s long-serving president, Idriss Déby, and its then-Minister of Petroleum and Energy in September 2009. During the meeting, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., the former prime minister promoted the fledgling company, which was struggling to secure oil concessions in the African country.

Griffiths’ pursuit of energy riches in Chad landed the company in legal trouble when it was discovered that the company had paid $2-million (U.S.) to a consulting company owned by Mr. Bechir’s wife. Last week, Griffiths Energy pleaded guilty to bribery charges in an Alberta court and agreed to pay a $10.35-million penalty.

There is no suggestion or evidence that Mr. Chrétien was involved in any of the dealings that resulted in the bribery case, nor that he had knowledge of the payment to the ambassador’s wife. Mr. Chrétien is counsel to Bay Street law firm Heenan Blaikie, which served as Griffiths Energy’s legal adviser from Aug. 2009 to Jan. 2011. It is common practice for major law firms to hire retired politicians to help build relationships with domestic and foreign countries.

At Heenan Blaikie, Mr. Chrétien has helped a number of Canadian companies establish ties with a variety of African countries.

Mr. Chrétien declined through a spokesman to discuss the meeting, citing client confidentiality. A spokesman for Heenan Blaikie also declined comment.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Bechir, who was fired from his job as Chad’s ambassador to South Africa on the weekend, portrayed Mr. Chrétien as a man who helped Griffiths’ senior management gain access to key officials in the Chadian government. The ex-ambassador said his wife, Nouracham Niam, wrote a formal letter to the embassy proposing the meeting, which he approved “because this is Jean Chrétien. … He has the priority because he was the former Prime Minister of Canada.”

The meeting took place in a small conference room next to Mr. Déby’s suite at the Ritz. According to Mr. Bechir and other people familiar with the session, Heenan Blaikie lawyer Jacques Bouchard Jr. and two company founders, Brad Griffiths and Naeem Tyab, were also in attendance.

Mr. Bechir described Mr. Chrétien “a very funny guy,” who set a jovial tone during the meeting and reassured the Chad delegation about Griffiths Energy’s potential.

“This is a big testimony from a high-profile person,” Mr. Bechir said. “I think that facilitated – it give some confidence to the government these are not just a bunch of people who are dreaming in the internet.”

“I think that gave the confidence to the government that these people are serious, Griffiths’ company is serious.”

Mr. Déby responded by telling the Griffiths team that “they are welcome” in Chad, Mr. Bechir said. One month later, on Oct. 26, 2009, Griffiths Energy signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct due diligence on two oil blocks.

The agreement was a huge leap forward for a relatively unknown company that had failed after a number of visits to Chad to purchase rights to produce oil and gas in the country’s rich southern oil fields. Mr. Griffiths, a former Bay Street investment banker, was so entranced with the investment opportunities in Chad that Mr. Bechir said the executive told him he would change his first name to Chad from Brad if the oil and gas investment was approved. He also promised a number of investments to build everything from new roads in Chad to a radio station at the Washington embassy, the ambassador said.

Griffiths Energy ultimately secured formal rights to the Chad properties in January, 2011, but the victory was short-lived.

Mr. Griffiths drowned in July, 2011, in a boating accident. The company’s new management team discovered problematic contracts in the fall of that year and alerted the police to them, which culminated in last week’s guilty plea.

Federal prosecutors have begun proceedings to force Ms. Niam to forfeit the $2-million payment and her large holding of shares in the company. According to an agreed statement of facts released by the court, in the fall of 2009, Griffiths Energy sold Ms. Niam and two friends 4 million so-called “founders shares” for a fraction of a penny each.

The statement said Ms. Niam was originally awarded 1.6 million shares for $1,600. Mr. Bechir said his wife later purchased an additional 1.6 million Griffiths Energy shares that were awarded to their children’s teacher, Adoum Hassan, who was one of the original recipients of the founders shares.

Her stock holding is currently valued at about $20-million. Mr. Bechir said he plans to fight prosecutor’s plans to force his wife to forfeit the shares.

While it appears Mr. Chretien did nothing wrong it does raise the question of what lobbying is appropriate for an ex-holder of public office.

 

Edward Campbell

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E.R. Campbell said:
I have commented, before, on the relationship between "transparency" (open and honest dealings by government and businesses) and productivity. Generally the more open, honest or "transparent" a country is then the more prosperous it is, too. Canada has, also generally, ranked well in transparency but now, on one specific index - the likelihood of bribery - we have fallen, sharply according to this article which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canada-loses-ground-on-bribery-ranking/article2221891/

It is important to remember that these indices are perceptual - based on how people, including Canadians, think we act, at home and abroad, not on "proven" acts - but, especially in matters of reputation perception trumps reality. Our reputation for open, honest, fair business dealings is suffering. Our national government is, arguably correctly, focused on domestic crimes while it appears to tolerate and even reward corporate crime.

Too many businesses, especially businesses that are based in or do a lot of business in Québec (our second largest province with a strong engineering sector) are "seen" to be less than fair and honest in their dealings abroad. About half of SNC Lavalin's revenue comes from overseas work and it is, too often, linked to corruption overseas and its stance on position on corruption at home is also troubling. (SNC Lavalin is used as an example only because it is cited in the article.)

I suggest that our decline in perceived honesty is at least as important and as worthy as aggressive government action as is tougher sentencing for drug dealers - something which, by the way, I support. (Even though I would support public corporal punishment even more.)


And in an editorial, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from that newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen sums up my worries:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/editorials/Profoundly+corrupt/8368338/story.html
Profoundly corrupt

OTTAWA CITIZEN

MAY 10, 2013

In September of 2010, members of Parliament did something they had only done once in the past century: Join together to express the House’s displeasure. The focus of the extraordinary censure motion was Maclean’s magazine and the issue was its story on corruption in Quebec, one that featured a cover photo of Bonhomme carrying a suitcase of cash under the headline “The most corrupt province in Canada.”

Two and a half years after Parliament said it was “profoundly saddened” by that story, corruption allegations and charges involving public officials have become so commonplace in Quebec against the backdrop of the Charbonneau inquiry, that it took the arrest of Laval’s former mayor on gangsterism charges this week to profoundly shock the province.

Gangsterism is one of the most serious charges in the Criminal Code and most commonly applied to bikers and gangsters.

Gilles Vaillancourt, who served as Laval’s mayor for 23 years and maintains his innocence, is charged, in effect, with being a ringleader in a system of kickbacks and corruption. He appeared in court Thursday along with a long list of other accused to answer charges of gangsterism, fraud, fraud against government, breach of trust, conspiracy, municipal corruption and money laundering.

The allegations against Vaillancourt, who resigned as mayor of Laval last November, bring the inquiry into corruption in Quebec to a new low. It has already resulted in arrests and resignations that have included municipal politicians and bureaucrats as well as construction officials. Notably, Montreal’s mayor Gérald Tremblay stepped down last fall amid allegations of corruption. He, too, maintains his innocence.

The commission has heard allegations of kickbacks, collusion and corruption around the awarding of construction contracts. The latest allegations suggest that not only were public officials involved in such schemes but, in some cases, possibly even running them.

Many of the allegations have yet to be heard in court, but enough information has been confirmed to paint a disturbing picture. The latest allegations have rocked Quebeckers, with good reason.

The revelations should worry and embarrass all Canadians. This is not how a modern democracy should work. The taint of corruption has a corrosive quality that affects the entire country.

Parliament should be profoundly saddened.

Ottawa Citizen

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen


We, the Canadian people, led by our urban elites, decided, back in the 1960s, to let Quebec be "maîtres chez eux"; that included accepting Quebec's unique corporate (statist) business culture: the creation of Hydro-Québec, the Olympics, the modèle québécois in public administration, urban infrastructure ... none of these would have been acceptable anywhere else in Canada, from Victoria to Yellowknife to St John's, but Quebec had to be "accommodated," (appeased). Now, in my opinion, the whole country - especially our reputation as a good place to do business - is suffering because we demonstrated that we are a weak kneed people who are willing to trade the rule of law for political peace.


 

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Citation de: E.R. Campbell le novembre 02, 2011, 09:11:50
We, the Canadian people, led by our urban elites, decided, back in the 1960s, to let Quebec be "maîtres chez eux"; that included accepting Quebec's unique corporate (statist) business culture: the creation of Hydro-Québec, the Olympics, the modèle québécois in public administration, urban infrastructure ... none of these would have been acceptable anywhere else in Canada, from Victoria to Yellowknife to St John's, but Quebec had to be "accommodated," (appeased). Now, in my opinion, the whole country - especially our reputation as a good place to do business - is suffering because we demonstrated that we are a weak kneed people who are willing to trade the rule of law for political peace.

I think that you mix the issues.  The big problem we have is that we have a big tendancy to do our laundry in public.  We are an emotive people...  I reallllly dont think it is a unique québéquois problem.  However, it show the willingness to clean the table and how the province is completly feed-up with politician.
 

Edward Campbell

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FusMR said:
I think that you mix the issues.  The big problem we have is that we have a big tendancy to do our laundry in public.  We are an emotive people...  I reallllly dont think it is a unique québéquois problem.  However, it show the willingness to clean the table and how the province is completly feed-up with politician.


We'll have to agree to disagree, I think the modèle québécois was fatally flawed under Jean Lesage and became more and more so under e.g. René Lévesque and Robert Bourassa - PQ and Liberals alike - as Quebec struggled to do the impossible: run a prosperous, generous and statist welfare state. There are models for that: states with solid social programmes and sterling reputations for honest government (cosider Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, for example) - none of them employ as explicitly dirigiste and statist models as does Quebec and, to a lesser degree France.
 

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I agree we are far far from what we should be.  But corruption is every where, not only here.  That was my points.
 

Edward Campbell

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FusMR said:
I agree we are far far from what we should be.  But corruption is every where, not only here.  That was my points.


I understand your point, and I agree that corruption is everywhere, but I maintain that the dirigiste "modèle québécois" both encourages and excuses corruption - all that matters is that the project at hand gets completed. Industry and government both have a vested interest in accomplishing the mission; adhering to the rules is a secondary consideration. Things are not the same in Albert or Ontario or Denmark, either. But it does exist in Quebec and France and China and they all need to both clean up their systems and change "models."
 

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FusMR said:
But corruption is every where, not only here. 
Yes, but its acceptance is greater in Quebec.

I'm quite familiar with a gentleman who is retired Sûreté du Québec from Trois-Rivières.  If you're unfamiliar with the city, there's a very large Hell's Angels' presence.  He was OK with the bike gang being there because "the police didn't have to worry about crime in their neighbourhood, and they only sold drugs to scumbags who wouldn't be missed if they overdosed."  :eek:

Different concepts of what's acceptable.
 

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I agree.  But, the population is getting tired of this, very tired but they feel they have no power to solve those problems. 
 

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FusMR said:
I agree.  But, the population is getting tired of this, very tired but they feel they have no power to solve those problems.

Fusilier:

Y'a une solution bien simple.  Fais ce que tu veux.  Suive pas ton elites.  Mais j'ai le sense que le plupart de la probleme quebecoise est elle n'a pas completer le transition d'une societe religieuse a un societe le meme comme les autres parties du Canada.  Elle a vire de corporatisme clericale au democratie sociale - quand meme comme les Europeens. 

In both cases, whether under the church or under the elites, there is an underlying expectation on the part of the governed that they are not in control and that the government exists separately from the governed.  Consequently the governed resent paying taxes to the government and resent the laws imposed by them.  So they dodge taxes and ignore laws.

Meanwhile the elite are quite happy to set the course and hand out crumbs to keep the governed happy (ie not in the streets - judging by the Montreal experience they are not as good as they could be at that).

It is not that the rest of Canada likes paying taxes or following laws, our politicians are starting to stretch our tolerance to bursting point now.    But historically (at least for the last 100 years give or take) there has been a continuing tendency for the governed to feel engaged in and part of the government.  That feeling is starting to feel sooooo much like last night .....not much left but a memory and a hangover.

I have had the pleasure of working with Quebecois both in Quebec and in Western Canada.  No more corrupt than the rest right enough.  But one thing I did notice, and it impacted on the manner in which business was conducted.  The Quebecois were less trusting.  They expected that in any business arrangement they were going to get screwed over.  That attitude, learned in the Montreal construction trade and expressed directly to me by a confrere and fellow project manager, didn't work well in the West.  In the West we do get screwed over from time to time, sometimes by "friends", but the working assumption, I believe this is true for most people, is that they are willing to give everybody the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.  It is certainly the structural basis for all business agreements - people tend to go into new business relations with an optimistic outlook. 

In practical terms this difference in outlook meant that where I was preparing to write a $3,000,000 contract to advance a project I was informed that we were effectively going to have to create 150 $20,000 contracts and track each one separately, taking each funding request through a management committee.  I found it easier to track a single large contract rather than multiple small contracts (personally I thought the many small contracts left more room for manipulation than the single large one) but that was not in line with a corporate culture where the President and CEO of a multibillion dollar organization only had personal spending authority of $250,000.  Everything went through the board of directors after passing through multiple management committees.  The inefficiencies that resulted cost the company years in decision making and dollars in profits.

Quebec seems to suffer from a great inability to trust anyone - not just anglos, or Canadians, but virtually anybody who isn't family.

 

WLSC

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Citation de: FusMR le Aujourd'hui à 13:52:26
Y'a une solution bien simple.  Fais ce que tu veux.  Suive pas ton elites.  Mais j'ai le sense que le plupart de la probleme quebecoise est elle n'a pas completer le transition d'une societe religieuse a un societe le meme comme les autres parties du Canada.  Elle a vire de corporatisme clericale au democratie sociale - quand meme comme les Europeens. 

In my view, you are so bang on !!!

It's difficult to have your own mind when you have been told for centuries how thing should be done.  Because, they know better.  People use to trust the elite over here, now, not so sure.

Having a guy from the out side thinking the same then me confort me in the habit we have to take one step back !!
 
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