Quebecers have more backbone than the politicians in Ottawa

It appears Quebecers agree that Quebec is most corrupt province in Canada

Quebecers have more backbone than the politicians in Ottawa

Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

Maclean’s has heard a great many voices over the past two weeks regarding our recent cover story on corruption in Quebec politics (“The most corrupt province in Canada,” Oct. 4, 2010).

Many of these voices, largely the political elite in Quebec, have expressed a degree of outrage ranging somewhere between apoplexy and eye-popping fury. We have been wildly accused of xenophobia and bigotry. The House of Commons, in a unanimous motion orchestrated by the Bloc Québécois, declared its “profound sadness” at our coverage.

We’ve heard a very different message from the public at large, however. Canadians have told us loudly and clearly that they are concerned about the significant problem of corruption and unethical behaviour displayed by their elected representatives. And this sentiment is noticeably stronger in Quebec than any other province. It seems a far more convincing expression of the public interest than complaints from a bunch of self-interested politicians.

Despite the loud din of official condemnation, we’ve yet to hear a single argument disproving anything we wrote. Every instance of corruption or political wrongdoing we detailed in our coverage had already been reported at length by other media outlets, both in Quebec and outside the province. Some argued that we offered no hard statistical evidence sufficient to label Quebec the most corrupt province in the land. But should the fact that Canada lacks a comprehensive data set for measuring corruption mean no Canadian media outlet can ever discuss the issue of systemic political corruption or gauge the relative integrity of political leaders in a particular province? Of course not. And what of the decades-long list of examples of corruption all emanating from Quebec? It requires deliberate self-deception to ignore such obvious evidence. For greater certainty, however, Maclean’s decided to find out what Quebecers themselves think about the issue.

A nationwide Angus Reid poll compiled for us at the end of September shows Quebecers, much more than other Canadians, see their province as burdened by a political system that features unethical behaviour among politicians at all levels. Asked to describe their concern with corruption in their home province, 68 per cent of Quebecers said they were very or moderately concerned. This is substantially higher than the response from any other province. When all respondents were asked to rate politicians from their home province, Quebecers again proved themselves the most pessimistic—58 per cent said their politicians acted unethically. Finally, 62 per cent of Quebecers identified broad or systemic political corruption as the source of their concern. The national average was 48 per cent.

In other words, and at the risk of repeating ourselves, it appears Quebecers agree that Quebec is most corrupt province in Canada.

Such prima facie evidence supporting our contention about Quebec’s political system is in sharp contrast with the House of Commons’ bizarre and unprecedented criticism of our magazine.

The Bloc used a point of order to seek unanimous consent for their motion criticizing Maclean’s truthful and fact-based coverage of this important public issue. When André Arthur, a principled Independent MP from Quebec, refused to co-operate, the Bloc simply waited until he left the chamber before reintroducing it. There was no notice or debate on the motion and it passed without a recorded vote. It was an unwarranted and shocking abuse of parliamentary authority that infringed on the freedom of the press for the nakedly political purpose of blame-shifting.

Many MPs privately admitted to disagreeing with the statement but, unlike Arthur, lacked the courage to make this known for fear of angering touchy separatists. “Many of us had problems with the motion,” one unnamed MP told the Globe and Mail newspaper. “Ultimately we went along for one reason . . . it was a separatist trap.” The MP concluded, “all in all it was a sad thing that happened in Parliament.” And spineless too.

Regardless of the angry bluster or profound sadness on display by politicians from Quebec and elsewhere, Quebecers themselves recognize significant problems with their political system. They can see it’s corrupt. And they want it cleaned it up.




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Quebecers have more backbone than the politicians in Ottawa

  1. My understanding is the NDP were part of the dynamic duo who crafted the motion along with the Bloc. To see our federal parliament pass a motion condemning a magazine story shows the lack of courage and the extent to which these politicians will go to curry favour. Our country is in deep trouble when the federalist parties are afraid of their own shadows. If all federalist parties had refused to support the motion it would never have happened. MacLeans is right they are a spineless lot.

    • Doesn't matter who crafted it. MPs supported the motion almost unanimously. Therefore, they all deserve the label "spineless" in equal measure. Trembling little cowards, terrified voting against or even abstaining, lest they offend someone.

      • You are absolutely right. However, the NDP needs to be identified as the party who in their quest to appease Separatists was prepared to go against freedom of the press. Having said that they are all spineless and deserve to be castigated by the general public for their lack of courage and conviction.

        • The NDP is no more guilty of opposing freedom of the press than any other party. No white hats to be found in this case. All hats are black.

  2. We should have a referendum in the RoC to separate from Quebec.

    • Yes, and on the basis of the vote we should accept that the only real solution to this blackmail to to partition Quebec. An "english Canada" will be shocked at the number of franco Québecers like myself who will gladly vote to free ourselves from a socio-liguitic gulag.!
      Even franco-Quebecers are forced to resort to court actions to have the right of educating their children in English.
      Youread right.
      Take a close look at the endless speecdhes , convention, reunions and declarations by the Bloc and the PQ. They know more and more that Québec indenpency is a death sentence.
      What is the most fearfeul is the total absence of morality by the federal MPs.
      How dare they point the finger at the press. This is smacks of Bush era press bashing , 1950 's american style Macarthyism .
      Cowardly and shameful . Played right into the hands of the Bloc.

  3. If "they" want it cleaned up, then "they" had better get to work. It hardly makes sense to ask the people, upon who's watch this corruption has flourished, to now clean it up. Doesn't it make more sense that the current powerholders have tacitly approved of the special arrangements that foster the growth of corrupt practices. Is this not why the office holders raised such hue and cry?

    It still puzzles me why the Bloc got behind this, when it was Federalist Quebecers that were most likely to be disgraced.

    • You would need a DNA change. I assume you know their history! Some of you think this is something new! lol

  4. "It was an unwarranted and shocking abuse of parliamentary authority that infringed on the freedom of the press for the nakedly political purpose of blame-shifting."

    Really? I don't disagree with anyting in this editorial except this sentence.

    1. Abuse of parliamentary authority?
    - to hold a vote wtihin the rules of order the asserts absolutely no tangible authority over Macleans?

    2. Infringing freedom of the press?
    If the press can broadcast their opinions about Parliament, surely Parliament can do the same with regard to its opinion about the press. Again, there was no actual sanction, not even a threat of any kind, just the statement of opinion – actually a "feeling".

    If Macleans editors actually feel thier freedoms infringed by this, I think they are far more thin skinned than they claim to be. In this bit Macleans is actually guilty of exactly what they blame Parliament of doing – political grandstanding; self-righteous outrage etc.

    • True enough. If all it was was a harmless, meaningless resolution, then Parliament is free to express its unanimous opinion with a million resolutions, all without any threat to press freedom. It was bad optics, and it gave the impression of infringement of press freedoms. Which is questionable on its own, but certainly not overly worrisome.

  5. Your article should have said Canada is the most corrupt country in the world. Afterall, most of the scandals oringinated with federalist Liberals so maybe thats why they reacted against your article in Ottawa.

    • Wrong most were Franco-Quebecers . The Gomery Commission clearly stateded that the global budget for the "ad" campaign was 550$ millions dollars , 200 millions to "anglo" agencies and the rest to Quebecois agencies .According to Gomery's final report Not one cent allocated the "anglo" agencies" was "misspent".
      How about the " Stade Olympique" in Montreal that was a 100% franco quebecois project .we all know how that finished. How about the " Biblioteque "national" another franco- Quebecois project , @ 3 times the original price. Need I go on I can for hours.
      Corruption is in the mirror "mon amie" etd comme bon nombre to franco-Quebecois , on a plein nos assiettes des sales declarations pour cacher l'évidence meme.

      • Les franco-québécois fédéralistes sont les plus corrompus.

  6. Yup, ever since trudeau its been the bilinguals from Quebec. There is no record of corruption to this extent in the rest of Canada.

    • After reading your comments I think its you thats corrupt and your not from Quebec. lol

      • Quebec, New Brunswick, whats the difference? Let Macleans do a study on this other corrupt french run Province!
        Two education systems, one french and one bilingual! Two medical systems, one french and one bilingual, french rcmp! Two civil servant systems one french and the other french bilingual. All FORCED.
        Whose moody rating was just dropped, along with everything else. New Brunswick creates jobs for every expert that the universitie du moncton produces, which is all of them. One is hired in moncton to get rid of the mosquitoes(1 million)! Never been accomplished anywhere in history! lol Eastern Kanada!

  7. My problem with your article was the statement: Quebec most corrupt province in Canada. You did not do a comparison study and therefore had no right to make the claim. That was shoddy journalism and designed to sell your magazine, which sold out.
    Other than the unfounded title, I have no problem with the article.

    • If you lived and read a little bit at all since Canada's founding, you would not be making such, actually, contradictory statement. In fact, Irans brutality rating is 7.3, Canada's is 2.7 and France is 4.7. The chips fly.

  8. From personal experience, I can report that Speakers of the House of Commons care nothing about protecting staff from abusive managers. For example, I actually had a Director of Human Resources deny the existence of my university degrees to my face in a job interview. This occurred over two decades ago, but , despite my repeated pleas for a retraction of this preposterous pronouncement, no Speaker has thought the matter important enough to rectify. Is this a measure of the real value of the Canadian Charter of Rights? Considering what happened to me, I can understand why the MPs are touchy about allegations of corruption. Oh yes–and when I left the employ of the House the administration tried to cancel over a third of my years of pensionable service!

  9. Is there someone in Ottawa i did not know ,i oh yes there must be someone is spending a lof of our money on nothing.

  10. This magazine is right wing conservative and its strange that they attack liberals. I am sure the conservatives on not free from scandals especially since the conservatives have done nothing to help out children in Canada. At least Quebecers are doing more to help children and you see the results with students there now having the highest test scores in the country.

  11. 'We have been widly accused of xenophobia'

    Macleans, you keep printing defense after defense, but I still don't see you explaining this:

    'What explains Quebec's unusual susceptibility to money politics? Deeply entrenched deference to authority? A worldly Catholic tolerance of official vice? There is no grand unified theory: at different times and in different situations, different forces have come into play. Nevertheless, a few broad factors emerge:'
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/09/24/what-lies-bene….

  12. Your interpretation of the results of the nationwide poll compiled for Maclean's at the end of September is flawed.

    Your statement "We've heard a very different message from the public at large, however…" sounds like the Harper government's argument to get rid of the long census form. Its not based on hard numbers.

    Your bias is obvious when you compare provincial results in Quebec with a national Canadian average. Results in each of Canada's provinces and territories must be provided for a proper comparison.

    What your poll likely shows is that Quebecers are much more concerned and watchful of misdeeds by their elected officials than other Canadians, and not necessarily that they have more reason to be.

  13. I grew up in Quebec and I can tell you the population's attitude to the law was that it was a set of useful guidelines to ignored if circumstances warrant. Speed limits are suggestions. So the policians there just reflect the values of the population.

    The pubs I went to as a young man had no windows as the owners refused to pay protection to local organized crime but the local brasserie that did always knew an hour in advance when the police were raiding for underage drinking and you could gamble at cards all day and score a gram of hash.

    Given those examples, would you expect city hall to operate any differently than the brasserie?

  14. We Quebecers know implicitly that the "facon de faire" in Quebec is clearly corrupt and HAS been for generations. The Duplessis years are now know as " les annés noirs" , the black years. And Duplessis was a right wing conservative not at all Liberal. ( who finally threw him out.) To suggest John Charest is at the epicenter of Quebec corruption is to slither to new depths of hypocrisy. Under the table payments here are at epidemic proportions. When the PQ ,under Lucien Bouchard, ran TV ads to put at end to the practice ,he was quickly told to pull those ads. I leave to you to guess who made the request, (those who stood to loose the most.)
    Will the Maclean's article change anythig here , NO ,corruption is the way to work here. And that's why Quebec never really competes with the rest of Canada. Corruption is too costly.

  15. Wow! Even though we can put behind some aspects of the long history of Anglo-Canadian "Apartheid" against French-Canadian citizens, don't you think that this alone would explain why there is corruption and and distrust in Quebec society. The social engineering that was used to keep the French-Canadians "in check" has taken its toll, as you can see.

    Just take a look to the developping world. There has been a lot of corruption out there too. Why? Because these people prefer corruption? Come on! We all know corrupt systems have been implemented by colonizing powers.

    There will always be Apartheid or Holocaust deniers, as there will be "French-Canadian Apartheid" deniers. MacLeans has done a good job to prove that a lot of people in English-Canada are the greatest deniers around here.

  16. Hehehe…with the Arctic melting I can put missiles on the new Quebec Republic to (1) flank the Russians on both sides, and (2) block the Chinese out of the Arctic shipping lanes. All that oil and gas are mine, mine, mine. And I don't even have to plant a star spangled banner on the sea floor. Take that Validimir!! Jintao can't say nothing because Duceppe et le Bloc a dit oui eux-mêmes et je n'avais rien à faire avec lui. Brilliant! Get to work Leon and don't worry about Stevie. He's not that bright. How'd I know? Because he had to take Econ 101 three times to pass, that's how I know. Besides, he's on my payroll. What did you say? Is he expensive? Na, less then the cost of a small double double from Tim's. Let's code name this one operation Schwartz's – they's got some good eats and god knows we need patrons to finance this. Vive l'Amérique! Maybe I'll relocate Osama from Pakistan to Montreal. It'd be good for his kidney, and a perfect excuse to put US troops in Valcartier to fight terrorism. Call me B, to get your details. Don't want to see another fumble out of you again. Oh I forgot, you play basketball, not football. Dammit, I might just have to do this one myself. Hillary can help, she's bright, not great with execution, but she's bright nevertheless. Perhaps I'll send Bubba in first if his coronaries are up to it. Dammit, I told him to stay off those greasy burgers and the plum babes. Oh and I got to get a hold of that nutty Alaska lady to help keep an eye on the Ruskies. She said she can see them from her house. Let's get to work boys.

  17. Quebec is afraid to look at it's own dark side and needs first to get it's own house in order. The Quebec governments, politicians, police, administrators certainly are still too soft on dealing with crimes, inadequacies so is the federal government. Imagine this thousands of people do now die in Hospitals per year because of the Hospitals inadequacies and it still basically is allowed to happen.. even cause not too much is being done about it still too. People even die waiting in the emergency wards for years now too. Arrest the Premier, Health Minister, Hospital director, the Quebec Ombudsman, and the main Doctor at the Hospital, emergency room for criminal neglect of a sick person, after all they know about the problems for a long time and they did nothing good about it. http://thenonconformer.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/t….

  18. Know the difference between George Washington and John A. Macdonald? Washington was first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen. John A. was merely first in war, first in peace, and first to be involved in a political scandal. That's right. He took bribes from the owners of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Not that he didn't believe that Canada needed infrastructure through some CPR. Granted, Gilles Duseppe sounds a little like Major Renaud of "Casablanca": "What! There's corruption in Quebec?!!!" But the history of corruption goes a long way in Canada. It's just that George Washington never got caught.

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