Forget The Sopranos, The Godfather even Goodfellas. Forget guns and sleeping with the fishes.
The Montreal mob has a new weapon in their arsenal. It’s not exciting, flashy or even remotely interesting.
Quite the opposite. They now know how to bore the general public to the point where we all lose interest.
It worked on me. Then, by chance, two people I respect brought up the same thing in the same night: the Charbonneau Commission.
Wait, that’s still going on? Yes, despite a large portion of the general public (and yours truly) loosing interest after the commission claimed the political careers of longstanding mayors Gerald Tremblay and Gilles Vaillancourt.
The sacrificial lambs were thrown to the slaughter…and by slaughter I mean a pretty comfortable retirement and no need to answer any more questions. Corruption problem solved!
But the commission continued, undeterred and unnoticed. Witnesses testified, mainstream media reported on it out of duty not interest.
Yeah, a few times the commission tried to get provocative like when they asked city employee Gilles Vezina if he ever accepted the services of a prostitute as a bribe. But alas, the answer was no, the wine and hockey tickets were enough for him, and he wasn’t high profile enough to warrant pursuing the matter further.
Now, it turns out that one of the witnesses, Martin Dumont, felt pressured and asked for his testimony to be stricken. His lawyer threatened to take the matter to Quebec Superior Court if the request is refused. From there, the Supreme Court of Canada becomes an option.
Following a case up the legal food chain is hard enough to do even when it’s salacious and sexy. This is anything but.
How do you make something already mired in public apathy less appealing? You bog it down in legal procedure, that’s how. Absolutely brilliant.
If it gets to the Supreme Court, everything could be thrown out. If it does, who will notice and moreover who will care? We’ve already got the big names, who cares about the rest?
But we should care. Those are our roads cracking and overpasses crumbling because of shoddy work done by those who got insider contracts and overbilled the taxpayer. Those are our elected officials and unelected bureaucrats taking bribes from the mob. Those are our streets turned into impromptu rivers that sweep McGill students away for a kayak-less ride down to Sherbrooke. This is our public inquiry that risks disappearing without anyone noticing.
What is supposed to be a battle between right and wrong, public good and corruption has turned into a fight to keep the ratings up. On one side, we have the Charbonneau Commission trying to remain relevant and sexy without any big name talent. On the other, the mob and corrupt officials are working their hardest to get this show cancelled midseason. No syndicated reruns, no DVD box sets, just done and gone.
While this analogy may have almost run its course, so has the Charbonneau Commission. Maybe we should make some sort of petition to keep this show going or at very least start paying attention.
It may seem boring, but when you think about it, bringing down the graft that has been institutionalized in Quebec since the 50s or maybe earlier is probably the sexiest most exciting story possible.