Like most people, I’ve been following the Charbonneau Commission with great interest and incredulity that such rampant corruption and collusion could take place purportedly right under the noses of elected officials.
To say voter confidence has been shattered is a gross understatement.
The resounding sound of resignations hitting the table is deafening. First Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay followed by Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.
Listening to testimony after testimony at the Charbonneau Commission is like peeling back a rotten onion, revealing one layer more rancid than the next, of which the effects are far-reaching.
For those of us not living on the island of Montreal, we may feel somewhat removed from the political fray, maybe naively thinking that this doesn’t really affect us.
But the stink of corruption has permeated all levels of government, justified or not.
Already it has changed how public contracts are awarded, starting with Bill 35 legislation aimed at preventing further fraud in the construction industry.
With transparency being the buzz word of the day, how much information does the average citizen need to know?
Is there such a thing as an information overload?
Have the effects of the Charbonneau Commission scarred us to the point where we have lost all confidence in the ability of our elected leaders to do the right thing and follow a moral code of conduct?
In the interest of transparency and in the fallout of the Charbonneau Commission, the town of Pincourt has adopted some policies that certainly make sense.
The idea of having an evaluation committee, made up of city officials and perhaps independent professionals, to oversee the bid process when it comes to public contracts, is a positive step in restoring voter confidence.
At the very least, it will alleviate any mistrust or skepticism that the bidding process is unfair or rigged.
It’s also to ensure that contracts are evaluated by those who may be experts in their field, depending on the type of project.
For example, when evaluating contract proposals on the water fountain project at the Omni-Centre, those familiar with these types of installations may be part of the evaluation process.
That only makes sense.
Maybe I’m looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses, but I don’t think we can paint all politicians with the same tainted brush.
I think I represent the typical voter and can honestly say I don’t expect my elected officials to be all-knowing. More often than not, they are your average citizens, perhaps professionals in their own field, who want to make a difference in their communities through public service.
I do, however, expect my mayor and members of town council to treat taxpayers’ dollars with the same fiscal responsibility they would their own household budgets.
Marla Newhook is a journalist and mother of two. She works part-time at West Island Citizen Advocacy as the publicity representative. She is a resident of Pincourt.