Who do you trust? After the events of this week, it’s certainly not a politician
NDP leadership hopeful Thomas Mulcair in London, Ontario, Monday, January 16, 2012. (DEREK RUTTAN/QMI AGENCY)
To say this is a bad week for politicians and the public trust would be an understatement.
In Ottawa, a scandal involving expenses for senators has burst wide open with claims and denials that the prime minister’s Chief of Staff Nigel Wright helped Sen. Mike Duffy pay back inappropriately claimed expenses using his personal funds. We’re told no taxpayer money was used and no money was given by the Conservative Party.
As for Duffy, he says he got the funds to pay back the expenses from a bank loan. Both sides are asking us to take their word for it rather than offer up proof.
As for the other two senators in the expense scandal, they’re getting lawyers and refusing to pay back money the auditors say they never should have received.
But as they say on those TV infomercials — but wait, there’s more.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is now facing questions about being offered a bribe back in the 1990s, when he was a Liberal MNA representing the Laval area, by another Quebec politician now facing a raft of charges. I asked Mulcair about reports that Gilles Vaillancourt, then the mayor of Laval, had offered envelopes of cash to other politicians.
“Were you ever offered cash in an envelope by the mayor of Laval? Did you ever see envelopes of cash around the mayor of Laval?” I asked Mulcair in November of 2010.
Mulcair’s answer was one word, “No.”
Now it has been revealed that he did meet with Vaillancourt and was presented with an envelope. According to police documents quoting Mulcair, there was no doubt in the NDP leader’s eyes: “It was clear that this was money.”
On Thursday, Mulcair issued a statement saying he has told everything to the authorities.
“In early 2011, I met with the police in order to help in their investigation,” Mulcair said. “I gave to them my account of a meeting I had with Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt dating back to 1994. “As is indicated, I effectively and immediately ended the meeting with Mr. Vaillancourt.”
So just to recap, Mulcair was offered a bribe in 1994, denied he was offered one in 2010, but then told police everything in 2011.
Vaillancourt is facing gangsterism charges with police alleging he ran a criminal operation out of Laval city hall. All of this is related to kickbacks, bribes and payoffs surrounding the construction industry and public infrastructure projects.
Mulcair was obviously offered what he believed to be a bribe, but chose not to say anything for 17 years. He was an elected official being offered an envelope that he believed to be cash by another elected official; he had a duty to say something and didn’t.
This is the man now attacking the Conservatives over ethics in the Senate expense scandal?
When Vaillancourt was arrested last week, police told QMI Agency they were looking for up to $15 million in dirty cash hidden in bank accounts in Switzerland and Panama.
Here are a few questions for Tom Mulcair:
How much did he know or suspect about the kickback scandal now engulfing Quebec politics? Was he ever offered a bribe or even an envelope by other politicians or developers? Does he think now that maybe he should have reported something back in the ’90s and saved taxpayers untold millions wasted on bribes and corruption?
Mulcair owes those answers to the Canadian people. I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer.