We know from the Quebec experience that even in a sophisticated developed country like Canada, some politicians at the municipal level engage in fraudulent activities for personal gain.
Over the years some Winnipeg contractors have bemoaned the fact that some company owners and contractors have had a too close and cosy relationship with civic politicians and senior civil servants in the area of property development.
A parcel of land may have a very low value based on how it is zoned. If a zoning change or variance can be obtained the price of a given parcel of land can greatly increase in value overnight.
Zoning changes and variances are obtained through civic standing committees usually based on the advice of senior officials in the administration.
Then there is the whole issue of awarding city contracts which greatly broadens the field of play into areas such as water and waste, road and building construction, snow clearing, garbage and recycling pickup and a host of other soft services such as consulting contracts which the city regularly enters into.
The problem has been that business owners and contractors have been loath to come forward and file formal complaints because many rely heavily on city business for their livelihood. They have not been confident that a complaint would result in the required changes, and they cannot afford to be black-balled.
Based on media reports it would appear that we are now in a position where a number of people with apparent knowledge of alleged wrong doing have come forward to police. Naturally police need to establish the credibility of the individuals coming forward and assess the validity and reliability of the information they are providing. If the individuals are credible and the information passes the initial test, there would appear to be a basis to initiate an investigation.
Lets hope that the appropriate approaches were used to ensure this matter was dealt with properly and that an opportunity was not lost.
Corruption at any level of government undermines both democratic principles and the workings of a free market economy. All available steps must be taken to investigate and prosecute corruption.