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It Doesn’t Have Cocaine or Busty Hookers, But it Does Come With the Mafia, Apparently–(Update)

Yessirree Bob! Another scandal happening in Quebec, involving the Charest Liberals, Municipal governments, construction industry and of course, the Italian Mob supposedly partnered with said construction companies.  Jean Charest’s numbers started  dropping over the fall when it was alleged that the Quebec Liberals were involved in scandals involving the issuing of construction contracts to companies supposedly affiliated with the local Mafia. The opposition parties, as well as Justice Gomery, now retired (yes, the one in the same) calling for a public inquiry , which to date, Charest has refused saying that  a police investigation was sufficient enough.

The renewed call for a public inquiry comes after an explosive report last week on Radio-Canada’s investigative show “Enquete,” which highlighted extensive Mafia control over infrastructure spending.

The report alleged that up to 80 per cent of the road construction contracts in Montreal are controlled by the powerful Italian Mafia.

Price-fixing and collusion between about 14 companies has driven up the price of infrastructure contracts in the Montreal region 35 per cent higher than they should cost, the report said.

For those who don’t know, Charest’s government wasn’t originally involved with the corruption with construction companies and their alleged mafia connections; this was all more at the municipal level.  However, when many were calling for Charest to hold a public inquiry, he declined . He was being  hounded everyday about it and he continued to decline.

Opposition party investigators also uncovered another scheme, this time involving the 7$ /day day cares; a pay to play scheme where supposedly, folks would be issued licenses to operate daycares, and then they would contribute to the Liberal Party afterward.

Yes, support has definitely dipped continuously since these allegations started coming to light. However, it wasn’t really front and center this whole time. He had distractions. There was Copenhagen where he made a lot of noise, for one. Not saying he really doesn’t care about the environment. He does, but  Brother Steve’s inactions at Copenhagen certainly proved a welcome distraction.  Ideal, because separatists tend to be green thinking as a rule;  Charest’s actions in Copenhagen were welcome.

Other distractions like the debate on whether or not to niqab; another thing most folks can get behind.

Yet, the construction-municipal government-mafia scandal never really left; it may not have always been front and center, but definitely not forgotten.  Charest’s polling numbers reflect this in spite of those other activities happening.

Then there was that budget. The one where Finance minister Raymond Bachand tries to pave the road to Americanized health care . There are other key unpopular measures in this budget, but proposed health care alterations are the red button issue of the day, having precipitated to date two demonstrations, with these groups promising more protests and actions  to come.

Then I hear the former liberal justice minister, Marc Bellemare, a controversial figure who served during the first year and resigned, pretty much having burned any bridges with the Charest government, has come out alleging that he was told by Liberal Fundraisers which judges to appoint; that he actually saw money change hands between Liberal party members and representatives from these contruction companies.

Andre Pratte of La Presse  was a guest on Ricky P’s drive show this evening, suggesting that Bellemare is and always has been a controversial figure.  During that short year he served as justice minister, he had often found himself at odds with Charest . It is said that the last straw was when the Charest liberals due to scrapping Quebec’s now 32 year old no fault insurance laws.  After the interview, I was left with one question: why now?

Bellemare resigned six years ago; why is he coming forward now?  I am also getting the impression that Bellemare is very anxious to stick it to Charest. Pratte did tell Ricky P that Bellemare wanted to talk awhile ago and he seemed to not want this scandal to be forgotten due to the controversial budget just passed. If  what Pratte suggests is true; I gotta say, Bellemare, what a bastard you are! Implying the threat to what’s left of our universal health care is less important than sticking it to your former boss? Really?

My husband believes the Parti Quebecois perhaps approached him, and I suppose that’s possible; stranger things have happened, although, so far,  no media outlet covering this has suggested as much.  Plus, I don’t think it would be wise for the PQ to be involved in such a thing. If these rantings of a disgruntled ex-MNA turn out to be true, all the PQ doesn’t really have to do much.

Right now, according to a Leger Poll (yes, Spector decided to play pollster), Dissatisfaction for the Charest Liberals is now at 77%, an all time low for him.

No doubt because of the budget (health care)  and the scandal which seems to keep growing and sounding more and more like something out of that movie, Good Fellas .

Astral Talk’s Quebec City bureau chief, Angelica Montgomery was on with Redneck Ryan this evening and she didn’t seem to believe neither the Government nor Bellemare, asking that very same question we all are, I’m sure. Why now after 6 years?  The Charest government still has another three or so years to this mandate. Passing the kind of budget he did fits into Charest’s modus operendi; get rid of unpopular measures long, long before going back to the polls. He has a majority government now, does someone or some group can’t wait for another 3 years or so?

The latest from Charest’s spokesman  is that they’re threatening to sue Bellemare if he doesn’t retract his statements.

Charest is currently (and conveniently)  in Mississippi at some political conference. He is headed back this evening , but not available to comment.

Wow! A huge scandal where even Justice Gomery will make more than a few appearances around town no doubt.  I will be keeping an eye out on this. Something tells me that some can’t wait another three years for Charest to call an election. This also may be the perfect storm to further wake up the sovereigntist movement, no matter which allegations prove to be true or not. Remember what I’ve always said; more often than not these days; what kool-aid is fed by corporatist media these days tend end up more valid than the actual truth.

Whatever the case, I’m sure we’ll hear more in the days, weeks and perhaps even months to come. Redneck Ryan calls it ‘sexy’… No doubt there will be surprise revelations to come be they true or not.

UPDATE: It seems that Charest is now calling a public inquiry into how judges are selected. It is obviously, an effort to protect his good name , but it does discredit Bellemare even further now, doesn’t it?

“This is an issue that deserves this kind of a treatment and excessive partisanship is not the answer and certainly not the best answer to getting to the bottom of what Mr. Bellemare is talking about,” Mr. Charest said.

He does, however, stop short of a public inquiry into the construction or Liberal financing, citing that his government ‘has already taken other measures’  to address these issues.

Charest also maintains that he will sue Bellemare if he doesn’t retract his statements. It seems that Charest may have a case. I heard today that Bellemare is refusing to name the judges he was supposedly  ‘persuaded’ to appoint.

Pauline Marois apparently has taken a break from her delusional, paranoid  “oooohhhh HELP! The French language is disappearing!!!” rantings to say that what Charest is proposing isn’t good enough. She is proposing that they name two independent commissioners to head up the inquiry: retired Justice Gomery of the old ADSCAM (funny how that keeps coming up these days, isn’t it?) and provincial auditor Jean Lachance.

For once in her bubble headed life, Marois is actually making sense. I expect this won’t last for long. As for her particular choices for people to head up this enquiry: not sure how partisan or non-partisan they would be: I would have to read more about them before drawing my conclusions.

“Mr. Charest doesn’t have the credibility to proceed in a way that respects the rules of governance,” Ms. Marois said. “We need a public inquiry into the corruption in the construction industry, the awarding of contracts and party financing activities.”

All I can say now, is: Let the games begin!

My take?  Charest will survive that judge appointment stuff and Bellemare would be embarrassed, unless of course, we learn that an opposition party (PQ, Quebec solidaire or Deltell of the now near decimated ADQ) or someone else put him up to this. His timing is still very suspect indeed.

However, I think he is going to be resigning soon enough, perhaps even before this mandate is up.

Sidenote: James Morton, a lawyer and fellow progressive blogger, pretty much believes that what Bellemare is ranting about is impossible.

3 comments to It Doesn’t Have Cocaine or Busty Hookers, But it Does Come With the Mafia, Apparently–(Update)

  • Tweets that mention It Doesn’t Have Cocaine or Busty Hookers, But it Does Come With the Mafia, Apparently -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CK . CK said: It Doesn’t Have Cocaine or Busty Hookers, But it Does Come With the Mafia, Apparently http://bit.ly/aUfpVG [...]

  • Sir Gallahad

    Quebec politics are not my specialty.

    I will follow the happenings on your blog.

    It doesn’t sound very good for Charest, and I guess by extension the Federal Liberals.

    That on top of what I understand to be a killer Quebec budget.

    Is this only going to help the BQ, and the PQ?

    I’m sure Steve will have his mug in there somewhere trying to exploit the situation for his own partisan gain.

    Keep the updates coming, and i’ll keep reading.

    Regards,

    Sir Gallahad

  • Tweets that mention It Doesn’t Have Cocaine or Busty Hookers, But it Does Come With the Mafia, Apparently–(Update) -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CK . CK said: It Doesn’t Have Cocaine or Busty Hookers, But it Does Come With the Mafia, Apparently–(Update) http://bit.ly/b3qvE8 [...]