Now that you mention it, maybe it is time for an apology -

Now that you mention it, maybe it is time for an apology

Martin Patriquin on Quebec, corruption and the Charbonneau commission


In a column Wednesday, the National Post’s Jonathan Kay said some very nice things about this magazine and me personally, and I’d just like to remind Kay that there is a thumb-thick brown envelope taped under his chair. In keeping with the fine political tradition of Quebec, from where both he and I hail, I suggest he stuff the contents into his socks and, I dunno, buy his wife something nice. Or maybe pay off a city councillor.

Seriously, though, Kay (whom I know from my brief time at the National Post) brought up an interesting point. It’s been roughly two years since we ran our “Most Corrupt Province” piece, the cover of which depicted a very happy Bonhomme Carnaval strolling about with a briefcase overflowing with cash; two years since the media sphere in Quebec and the rest of Canada shook with varying levels of incredulity that we would say such a thing; two years since NDP leader Tom Mulcair, for reasons that were surely patriotic and not at all electoral, attempted to label us (and me personally) as anti-Quebec; two years after Jean Charest singled out Maclean’s for its “a simplistic and offensive thesis”; and two years since a parliamentary motion expressing “profound sadness” at the story, sponsored by the Bloc Québécois, passed unanimously in the House.

And what has happened since? In certain respects, not much.

Somehow, despite being profoundly saddened, the House carried on its important work, while its politicians moved on. Mulcair, despite being livid that Maclean’s would publish such Quebec-bashing “worthless facts,” wasn’t above signing copies of the magazine two years later, when we put him on the cover. At the time, the Bloc Québécois refused to speak to Maclean’s until it apologized “to the people of Quebec.” Since then, I’ve interviewed the Bloc at length, including for  this piece in which I hung around with all four remaining Bloc MPs and spoke with then-aspiring leader Daniel Paillé. They were gracious and friendly, our non-apology notwithstanding.

And yet that silly little Parliamentary motion still stands—despite the near-overwhelming daily barrage of evidence that suggests that, well, we were right. To wit: three of Jean Charest’s former cabinet ministers have been implicated in illegal campaign financing schemes. This includes former Deputy Premier Nathalie Normandeau, who during our appearance on Tout Le Monde En Parle demanded I apologize for our “insult to Quebecers.” This is the same politician who harvested some $110,000 for Liberal Party of Quebec coffers—much of it illegally, according to Lino Zambito—thanks to a dinner hosted by Zambito, a would-be construction magnate with known mafia ties. She also let Zambito give her Céline Dion tickets. And roses, for her 40th birthday. Sorry, who is an insult to Quebecers, again?

In Montreal, meanwhile, long-serving, long-suffering, forever-deaf-and-blind Mayor Gérald Tremblay is alleged to have known for years about illegal donations to his party; this, according to one of his former party organizers.

This is entirely separate from the city’s cadre of engineers, members of which were taking mafia bribes, or the well-worn contract-rigging system that ensured that Montreal taxpayers were soaked for wildly inflated construction projects. Then there’s Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who recently took medical leave following a police raid on his home and security deposit boxes, apparently in search of millions of illegally funneled dollars. A sombre Radio-Canada technician moseyed up to me the other day as I was setting up for a TV hit. Votre couverture était éronée, he said to me. Le bonhomme portait pas assez d’cash dans sa sacoche. Translation: “Your cover was wrong. There wasn’t enough cash in Bonhomme’s briefcase.”

Here’s the sad part: I could go on and on, but I won’t. Suffice to say, it’s a bit baffling that Parliament isn’t as outraged about the state of Quebec politics today as it was about a certain magazine pointing much of this out two years ago. At the very least, you’d think it would be profoundly saddened.



Now that you mention it, maybe it is time for an apology

  1. There’s little danger of Macleans separating from the RoC. Sorry to be so flippant, but isn’t that about it?
    It’s good to know there are signs aplenty around to support your case, i’d hate to see people’s careers end just on the say so of Zambito.

  2. I will repeat…….most of us arent interested in apologizing…
    we said at the time, we know there is corruption in Quebec. There is
    corruption in other provinces as well… do this to everybody and
    stop pandering to the anti-French sentiment in Canada.

    That SHOULD have been beneath you.

    • Do you practice being this arrogant, or does it come naturally?

      • Wait till you hear about what over 30 years of PC govt has done to Alberta…..and then there is all that drug money in BC….tsk tsk.

    • Show us the corruption in other provinces that even comes close to quebec’s level.

      • “Wait till you hear about what over 30 years of PC govt has done to
        Alberta…..and then there is all that drug money in BC….tsk tsk.”

        • What’s that got to do with whether or not Quebec is corrupt? Because someone else steals, it makes it ok for you to? Come on. Can’t you do better than unsupported attempts at deflection? Do you work for the Quebec government?

          • Okay, focus for a minute.

            You cannot determine which is the MOST corrupt province unless you examine ALL the provinces.

          • yep, been there, done that. You have no idea what I do for a living.

          • I don’t CARE what you do for a living….but I can guarantee that you haven’t examined corruption in all the provinces….so you are in no position to be handing out awards.

      • ottawa

  3. Still sticking with “Most corrupt province”?

    What’s your “credibility gap”?

  4. Because SHUT UP, that’s why.

  5. You article was just journalism fast food, as you usually do. The cover was insignificant. What prompted the reaction that it got was Andrew Coyne editorial, wich was a schoolbook example of intellectual racism. That means justifying your racism though pseudo intellectual arguments. The editorial was so bad that it was edited later on, and you had to hide the original version.

    The fact that you guys are trying to make this an outrage about the cover, or your piece, while totally ignoring the editorial that came with thoses, just shows that even you folks are ashamed of it.

    And it also shows that even you knows that its indefensible, its much easier to answer to the criticism directed at the cover than to talk about Coyne’s racism.

    • Why would Macleans be ashamed of being right? Nothing that they wrote has been disproven, in fact it’s been the opposite. Calling Quebec corrupt because of it’s proven history of rampant corruption isn’t racist, it’s being honest.

    • French is not a race.

    • French and English are 2 different ethnic group. Go read a dictionnary.

      • Who’s English? I’m Canadian.

    • Gabriel……Can you read? Are you following the findings of the Commission? Why do small minds pull the race card in the face of facts? Stop being so insular and self important.

  6. Sorry, Martin. You can’t polish that turd. And Kay is just roiling the
    waters for an attitude that’s always been endemic to the NattyPoo
    and all the sensitive souls who have walked through its’ doors over the years.

    • Right. You’re willing to ague that Martin’s argument that Quebec is rife with pay-offs, corruption and graft — from ex-PMs taking envelopes stuffed with thousand dollar bills to city engineers pocketing wads of cash from sidewalk contractors — is false. Indeed.

      • No. What I’m saying is that the spittle-munching media always has
        a bullet in its’ gun with Quebec written on it and they’re more than happy
        to pull it out with love in their eyes.
        Maybe I’ll be ready to take it all more seriously when I see appropriate commentary on the back-scratching wink-wink nudge-nudge world of
        Bay Street, the waves of BC drug money, the paving contracts in the
        Maritimes all with whatever PhotoShopped cultural symbols that may
        It’s been known for years that Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, have been
        Mafia branch plant operations. Quebec’s commission activity is a good
        thing …. for the media. It might even be more effective than the several
        that New York, New Jersey, and Washington have had over the years.

  7. So far there have been nothing but allegations. Where is the evidence to support all the allegations. Nothing yet has been proven to be fact. Here you have mobsters, known liars and thieves pointing their fingers at anyone that may be in their way or need removal from the scene, and you now say you were right! What a load….. those allegations also point straight to Toronto, where the biggest power base for the Mafia now resides. Oh, I suppose that was overlooked in your in depth investigations to find just how horribly corrupt Quebecers are next to the lily white ROC. I would say you may want to be very careful with your allegations, as you may find the same directed at Ontario and the GTA very soon. If Quebec is guilty of anything, it’s airing out their garbage in public, as opposed to the ROC where the detritus just hasn’t floated to the top yet!!

    • Those of us who work in public sector contracts from coast to coast know this to be true about Quebec. It makes no difference if some corruption comes to light in Ontario because it doesn’t change the fact of what happened in Quebec. That is such a childish attempt at justification.

  8. Well done! You are the media doing a VERY good job. You have awoken the public’s nap and made them hyper aware. I am very grateful for your bravery. Go Canadian media! Now if the USA media could take a training session with you…