Cor­rup­tion costs us all, big

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Wewill never know what the Pat Burns Arena, a glo­ri­fied pre­fab build­ing af­ter all, would have cost if it had gone to bid this year. Seems that be­tween a quar­ter to a third less is the norm in a lot of govern­ment con­tracts this year. With the com­mis­sion of en­quiry on the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, headed by Madame Jus­tice France Char­bon­neau, who this week is giv­ing us the teaser of what the ice­berg is all about, we can eas­ily imag­ine that when the heat of summer will have done its work, prices may go even lower.

Now, we have no idea what to do with a cou­ple of mil­lion or so, what maybe the arena project would have cost less if… Maybe we would have had a hand­i­capped ac­ces­si­ble fa­cil­ity, the park­ing lot would have been paved… Paving is some­thing else as the com­mis­sion learned this week; there again it looks like the game is fixed! Now this town and all oth­ers have done a lot of paving over the last cou­ple of years. Well, we also have no idea what to do with that cou­ple of mil­lion that would still be in our pock­ets.

Mind you, most of the money spent on paving and in­fras­truc­ture work is only paid to a third by our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Imag­ine the im­pact on our mu­nic­i­pal tax bill if we had paid the full amount. Then, we do not pay in­come taxes… Do we?

All in all, it must have been a cou­ple of bil­lion a year. Then again, if we have no idea what to do with a cou­ple of mil­lion, what are bil­lions for?

The long term ef­fect of all of this will cost Que­bec a lot more than the cou­ple of bil­lions di­verted al­ready. Let’s give a sim­ple ex­am­ple that will bring our in­ten­tion to some lo­cals who are in­vest­ing heav­ily here. A cou­ple of years ago one made what has been found in the end, with an­other com­mis­sion of en­quiry from that coun­try, to be an hon­est mis­take that could have ap­peared to have been an at­tempt at cor­rup­tion. We are not talk­ing fly by night op­er­a­tion here, but a ma­jor player in their field, one, by the way, in which the Que­bec and Cana­dian pen­sion funds have just pumped one hun­dred mil­lion dol­lars into, each. Like it or not, there is al­ways a large seg­ment of pub­lic opin­ion that will pre­fer to be­lieve a ru­mour, as un­founded as it is shown to be, rather than the truth. Now let’s say that the main Que­bec player in that field must ad­mit that some­how it has been pay­ing some for­eign coun­tries to ac­cept their con­tracts, har­bin­gers of peace and democ­racy as is Libya, to name one, that a United Na­tions agency has put it on its black list for a bridge built ‘à la québé­coise’. Who cares? Well, over the last fifty years, that field, en­gi­neer­ing, has cre­ated tens of thou­sands of jobs here in Que­bec, of­ten with govern­ment fund­ing, which meant that they could spec­ify Que­bec made goods, such as lowly but spe­cial­ized gloves, made in Stanstead, for ex­am­ple. Now, en­gi­neer­ing firms in other coun­tries are not with­out their prob­lems, but for the time be­ing, it is ours who do have prob­lems and for­eign coun­tries will skip them for a time at a huge cost to all.

Now it is al­ways sim­ple to sim­plify. So we won’t. Nor will we say that Mr. Sam Ham­mad, the trans­port min­is­ter who re­fused to read the re­port from Mr. Duch­es­neau as he said un­der oath, was the vice-pres­i­dent of an en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion firm that got the contract to build an arena in Stanstead. Too sim­ple.

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