Sunday, January 13, 2013

Michael Applebaum, Montreal Corruption and My Grandfather


I snipped this yesterday off Google. News. A bit about Montreal Municipal Politics in the StarPhoenix of Saskatoon. It was a wire story off Post Media.

Mayor Applebaum has launched an Anti-Corruption squad, made up mostly of police, with wide powers to investigate anyone any City Hall or anyone who does any business with the city. 

This is nothing new. The rest of Canada has always been interested in stories of this nature out of Montreal. Just check out my Milk and Water




Milk and Water is about 1927 Montreal when the City Administration was dealing with a load of scandals. My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, was Director of City Services and he was implicated in them all.


Of course, in those days, the Era of US Prohibition,  the Montreal Police Force was as corrupt as all the rest. This fact is discussed in Milk and Water. In 1925 they launched the Coderre Inquiry into Police Malfeasance and Misconduct. A prominent City Doctor had got the Presbyterians all in a huff over Prostitution.

In 1914 a British-born Montreal Journalist, Edward Beck, took it upon himself to clean up City Hall.  He conducted a successful sting operation on some Members of the Quebec Legislature and then targeted my grandfather, then Assistant City Clerk. 

Beck used Burns detectives to see if he'd accept a bribe. 

My grandfather accepted the bribe (and the transaction was captured on a device called 'a detectophone' and then Beck wrote up the story in flowery dime-store novel prose, in the first edition of his publication Beck's Weekly. "The City Hall is a sweet-scented sink hole of pollution if men like Crepeau speak the truth. Their greedy official hands take toll of contracts, levy tribute on ordinances, and prey upon the poor city labourers. Graft, graft, graft is written over the doorways, the lintels and on the doorposts." 



My grandfather, a relation of the powerful Forgets, sued for slander and won.. but just 100 dollars. :)

Beck's Weekly went out of business right away and Beck, it appears, had to cease being a journalist in Montreal.

But I believe that Beck continued to work 'underground.' In 1921, with my grandfather about to be appointed Director of City Services, a huge post, someone wrote an article in a Toronto paper, ostensibly about social-reformer Herbert Ames, using a writing style similar to Beck's, that trashed Montreal City Politics,