Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Looking after Business: Quebec Cabinet Ministers Can Now Own Companies They Award Contracts to

The old maxim was that Caesar’s wife should not only be virtuous but also have the appearance of virtue. It seems, however, that not only have many Quebec politicians thrown aside any pretense of virtue, they are now going to be able to do just about whatever please.

In the last month we’ve had scandals in the city of Montreal over the awarding of a huge contract for water meters. Earlier in the year questions were raised about a provincial health minister who was negotiating a contract to go to work for a private health service company while he passed directives giving the private sector more freedom to provide health services. The ex-minister, Philippe Couillard, came in for some criticism for the apparent conflict of interest, but according to rules introduced last month by the provincial government what he did would henceforth be perfectly all right.

In short the changes, introduced in March but only made public this week, completely remove the concept of conflict of interest from public life, because they allow a cabinet minister to own a company with which his or her ministry does business. ““It’s an open bar,” The Gazette quoted Stéphane Bédard, the PQ house leader, saying when the changes were raised in the National Assembly.

Where is Caesar now that we need him? Didn't the Obama victory mean anything to political leaders here? How can we turn the rascals out?


Anonymous said...

Public office should be an opportunity and honour to be able to serve your fellow should not be considered a chance to be served!
Two type of politicians annoy me...(1)the one that is there for a paycheck,who thinks it is just another job....(2) the one that thinks it is his privilege and right to be there and therefore can do what he wants.

Jimmy Zoubris

Mary Soderstrom said...

You've got it right, Jimmy.