Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

On Cynicism

Posted on | February 17, 2011 | No Comments

“I’m a professional cynic, but my heart’s not in it (Blur, Country House)”

If you don’t follow the news about Montreal, you may not have heard about the scandalous behaviour displayed by Mayor’s Tremblay’s office towards the city’s auditor-general. Supposedly acting on suspicions of conflict of interest, the city, through Pierre Reid, decided to hack and search all e-mails (highly confidential and protected by law, of course) of auditor Jacques Bergeron.  

Oddly enough, Pierre Reid’s manager, Louis Roquet, was under sharp criticism from the auditor-general, notably for leaking confidential information to Telus. Following its inquiry, the city anchored in the media suspicions of misconducts by releasing its conclusions towards the official release of the inquiry report next Monday. As no one can evaluate the fairness of this report, speculations around Bergeron’s actual conduct abound.

We see the straw in the eyes of others and we do not see the beam in ours. The city’s managers, obviously put in a tight position by the auditor-general discoveries on their own inadequate behaviour, obviously hope to divert attention elsewhere by shooting the messenger.

As large cities become more and more important in our societies, it necessarily must be pointed out that their leaders, including the mayor, general manager, and all other directors, are first and foremost public servants. They should serve all citizens – not only voters in general, not only those who voted for them, not only corporate citizens who contribute to their coffers. The auditor-general’s job is to make sure this happens.  

By casting aside all social values and conventions, worse, by shifting the blame on the auditor, the Tremblay team displays unprecedented self-centered cynicism. The mayor’s lack of a spine in this case is startling: after three days of silence, he still refuses to get involve, to prove his leadership, and would rather shovel the entire case in the backyard of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Gérard Tremblay’s attitude is that of someone who refuses to lead – this is exactly the sorry attitude which encourages subversive behaviours in his subordinates.

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