From the department of the not-so-shocking: there are allegations flying from a former Quebec minister of justice that Premier Jean Charest took payoffs from Liberal party fundraisers in return for the appointment of three judges.

As published in today’s Ottawa Citizen, Marc Bellemare, the minister in question, says Charest made the appointments after being told by party brass that he “needed to reward party faithful.”

Charest has denied the allegations and is threatening legal action, but Bellemare told Radio-Canada’s Alain Gravel that Charest was warned about the dubious nature of the fundraising.

Bellemare was minister in the first year of Charest’s government, but resigned, he says, because he was “disgusted” and “not cut out for politics.”

This sort of he said-he said is hardly new to our political scene. Nor is it shocking if Charest did indeed undertake the actions he’s being accused of.

But what grinds my gears here is a couple different things. Why is it, for example, that these types of scenarios keep rearing their ugly heads in Canadian politics? Is it because the very nature of the game itself is every bit as corrupt as we’ve always suspected, or are our politicians themselves guilty of the kind of pork-barelling we have long believed they are all indulging in?

It’s bothersome that we automatically distrust our politicians. Yet, our distrust is warranted, because many of them do indulge in the type of shady behaviour we are leery of.

So, even if Charest has nothing to hide and the accusations are off-base, this situation is another disturbing reminder that we will always have our backs up, our eyes open and our ears to the ground with regard to the people who run this country.


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