The local-paper-I-used-to-work-for published a major jawdropper of a story last week but, for whatever reason, telegraphed it.
Five local politicians and one bureaucrat have been charged — and, since the article says they were fined, presumably convicted — under provincial electoral law. Their offence? Having their municipalities or organizations reimburse them for attending a $200-a-plate fundraiser for the provincial Liberal riding association. For the record, the people charged are as follows:
- Jack Graham, Mayor of Bristol;
- Raymond Durocher, Mayor of Fort-Coulonge;
- Jean-Pierre Ledoux, CLD Pontiac director-general;
- Paul-Émile Maleau, Mayor of Île-du-Grand-Calumet;
- Ross Vowles, who was the CLD president at the time (he’s also Mayor of Thorne); and
- Scott Wilson, Councillor, Bristol.
The individuals were fined $621 each; the municipality of Île-du-Grand-Calumet was fined $921 and the CLD and municipalities of Bristol and Fort-Coulonge were each fined $1,132.
The article said little more than that. Either the writer did a crappy job (not unlikely), or small-town sensitivities are at play. It’s hard, after all, to fulminate against these people if you know them personally or have to deal with them on a regular basis. I’ve personally met or interviewed all but one of the individuals charged, for example. I’ve even met several of their wives. (And, to be quite honest, Jack Graham stopped by the paper’s office to try to sell us tickets to that very fundraiser while I was working there.)
But in any other setting, the headline would have been something like this: Local politicians caught funnelling taxpayers’ money to Liberal Party. And there’d be one hell of a hue and cry.
I mean, fuck. Think about it. These guys used public funds to pay for tickets to a party fundraiser. If this happened in Ottawa at the federal level, or anywhere else that hasn’t fallen off the face of the earth, there’d be a bloody public inquiry. Here, the perpetrators are fined, they keep their jobs, the paper mentions the story on the front page but makes no hay, and life goes on.
Except that it shouldn’t. Politicians should not use taxpayers’ funds to pay for tickets to party fundraisers. Period. The technical term for this is corruption. I’m pretty reclusive and don’t have any roots in the community, so I don’t particularly care about upsetting any local apple carts. The guilty parties should resign.