Joe Fontana is a symptom of a greater problem London, Ontario and all of Canada is suffering through but ignoring. The conviction over falsified documents for a $1,700 kickback scheme suggests to me we’re dealing with an arrogant person who has gotten away with things so often he got cocky. The next step in dealing with Joe Fontana’s case should be forensic audits of all of his deals, expenses and campaign funds while in public life. This conviction may just be the tip of a giant iceberg of fraud and other corruption that Joe Fontana has been part of.
Some tell me we should “move on”, “put it behind us”, “focus on the positive” or “focus on the future” and other similar cliched sentiments. Burying this or sweeping it under the carpet is exactly how we have reached this point. Ignoring the problem allows those benefiting from corruption to continue stealing from the public, it sends prices up artificially, it decreases the resources available for society’s most vulnerable, and makes it difficult to attract quality investments. It should be getting more and more difficult to ignore the red flags corruption is waving in our faces, there are less red flags in Beijing on May Day. I’ve written about many of them but it seems no one is reading.
Procedures and rules at all levels are perfect conditions for corruption to flourish. The lack of transparency or record keeping, self regulation, secrecy, information control, and public manipulation all benefit those who would cheat the public. Before any medical treatment doctors analyze the extent of the disease, yet most politicians offer nothing but platitudes and a bandaid. Without Charbonneau style Royal Commissions conducted at the Provincial and Federal we will never know if Joe Fontana represents a paper cut of corruption or a cancer that is about to kill the patient. We as honest citizens should be demanding such inquiries start before the end of this year.
Local councils too should freeze all contracting out and conduct extensive, possibly forensic, reviews of all existing and recent contracts entered into. All public expenditures going forward should be open to any global bidder, be entered into with the full knowledge of the public, have failure standards with penalties built into them, and have records of every meeting, document, invoice et cetera archived with copies to independent auditors. Any company or individual who does not wish the terms of the contract/s revealed publicly should be banned from receiving public money except social assistance or public pensions.
A new Criminal Code amendment should also be passed in Ottawa making it a crime to accept campaign donations from anyone but a Canadian Citizen currently having residency status, and who makes the donation publically and traceable. All donations from companies, unions, special interest groups, or uses a proxy to launder the campaign donations would all be offences with up to ten years in prison. The donation limit should be up to ten percent of an individual’s reported income, with anything over $10,000 not applicable for tax purposes. No individual would be permitted to donate more than the campaign spending limit to an individual candidate.
Third party advertisements would not be subject to campaign spending limits, however a publicly named individual must approve each message. All officials of a third party group advertising during an election must be publicly named along with all party affiliations, the source of the group’s revenues and all the groups expenditures on advertising. All of this information must be made public before the end of the writ period or fines should be levied against the group, its members and officials.
The current methods of governance similar to those used by organized crime, terrorist cells and developing world dictators. Those who say there isn’t a problem despite the red flags are enabling the kleptocrats who see us all as easy marks to swindle. Just because someone has been elected does not entitle them to act with a different set of standards, they must be watched, challenged, held to account and face consequences of their actions. No amount of procedural tricks, chanting of jobs, hyper partisanship, or special interest pandering should ever be tolerated.
To those on the inside who know what really is going on should blow the whistle, and the rest of us must protect them when they do. Just don’t end up looking like a patsy of Moscow the way Edward Snowdon did, go to an organized crime unit of the RCMP, INTERPOL or a lawyer.