Political scandals: Oh, Canada

Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum announced his resignation last week.
Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum announced his resignation last week.

Canada, by reputation, has a clean and upright culture, but lately a number of its prominent officials seem bent on changing that image. In Montreal, Mayor Michael Applebaum resigned last week after being arrested by the Quebec Police Department’s anticorruption unit and charged with, among other things, defrauding the government. This comes a mere seven months after Montreal’s previous mayor, Gerald Tremblay, resigned his post after allegations surfaced that his campaign solicited illegal donations.

Applebaum joins a surprisingly long list of Canadian politicos who are under investigation by the authorities — Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff of Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who’s been accused of appearing in a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine; and other mayors of major Canadian cities suspected of various misdeeds.

Political scandals exist in every culture, even ones known for their innocuousness. Still, the land of maple leaves, Justin Bieber, and poutine is undergoing some unusual changes. As it bucked global trends during the recession, Canada attracted a flood of real estate investment. High prices for oil and other commodities have heated up the resource-rich country’s economy. In January, there was even a bizarre heist of maple syrup, as the price of that product soared. None of which quite explains the uptick in scandals, but it’s possible boom times carry their own risks as well as rewards.