Politicians need to be transparent in their processes. Otherwise, the public has no idea what’s going on behind closed doors and politicians can’t really be held accountable for their actions.
That’s how corruption subsists in the political sphere.
Montreal’s Denis Coderre has not been a champion of transparency, a Metro investigation has revealed, as the acting mayor has been meeting with all sorts of officials and business persons without any official documentation.
Basically, Coderre has been inviting people into his office for meetings without any formal security checks or registry.
Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but Coderre not having his “guests” go through a formal security entry process, which involves a type of “signing in” of the guest, is a cause for some concern.
Without any log of who is entering the mayor’s office, for what reason, and for how long, Coderre can basically be having meetings “behind closed doors” and discuss anything without being held accountable.
The mayor circumventing the standard security check-in for his guests has been going on for three years, according to documents obtained by Metro.
An unpublished note from the mayor was sent to City Hall security guards, saying that, if someone arrives and asks for Coderre (or his chief of staff) then the security guard is supposed to contact a member of Coderre’s staff.
Ordinarily, security guards are supposed to register the names of all visitors entering City Hall. Again, this practice has seemingly been suspended and meetings with the mayor have been kept off the books.
This is still going on at City Hall, says Metro, and lets “contractors, business persons, lobbyists, and representatives of an events firm” meet with the mayor without any hard evidence of the meeting itself.
To dub these “secret meetings” is alarmist rhetoric to some degree, but it’s not that far from the truth. This is a transparency issue; the practice allows the mayor to have meetings, which could be of importance to the city, completely hidden from public view.
What’s even more troubling is the fact that Coderre, when campaigning a few years ago, said he would work towards increasing transparency in municipal politics. Coderre also committed to weeding out corruption in Montreal.
The mayor’s office has released a note in response to Metro’s findings and the associated assumptions. The note states that the practice of no formal security checks was done to keep the mayor and his chief of staff safe, while also “maintaining the confidentiality of their office.”
That last part is definitely true, and that’s what’s troubling about the whole thing.
People need to trust in their politicians and the these findings don’t put too much confidence in Coderre. The mayor could be doing absolutely nothing wrong or shady, of course, but it’s all about the image.
The (real or fictional) idea of Coderre secretly meeting with business leaders and lobbyist behind closed doors is not a positive image for the politician, and could make the difference in the upcoming election.
If people think of Coderre doesn’t have the public’s best interests in mind, then he may lose.