QuesnelGate: The Saga continues....


The Saga continues....

by Arthur Topham
QC Sentinel

September 6, 2011

As the sands of time run out and the fall civic election draws inexorably closer and closer things are not looking that harmonious at Quesnel City Hall.

In a headline front page article of the Observer on September 2, 2011 Quesnel residents continue to witness the growing tension in verbal exchanges and ongoing accusations between Mayor Mary Sjostrom and city finance chairperson Sushil Thapar that has dominated the local news scene for the past 8 months.

How the issue of suspected negligence on the part of some council members in their spending of taxpayers money has arrived at such a contentious point only months before civil elections is still a mystery for many Quesnel residents and all of Mayor Sjostrom's protestations and dismissals aside, her ongoing attempts to downplay the issue while at the same time using the media to cast doubt upon the character and motives of Coun. Thapar, naturally lead one to suspect that where there's smoke there's a darn good chance that there's also some fire of truth behind this continuing saga that's taking on a characteristic 'QuesnelGate' type cover-up as time progresses.

Mayor Sjostrom, while defending her own spending habits and those of her supporting council members, is not alleviating the fears of taxpayers by merely asserting that Coun. Thapar must have all the financial records simply because he is the finance chair. Thapar is stating publicly that he's missing close to $12,000.00 in cheques signed by Mayor Sjostrom and yet the Mayor is standing firm, maintaining that it's "impossible" that such a scenario could exist.

It begs the question though why Coun. Thapar would be making such blatant statements to the local media concerning the spending habits of city council if there was no substance to them. Thapar has been a dedicated, longstanding, no nonsense councilman for the city and for him to suddenly begin to go off on an issue such as this without having the necessary documentation to support his arguments seems a bit too far fetched to be taken seriously.

Judging from some of Mayor Sjostrom's comments it appears she would like Quesnel taxpayers to believe that Coun. Thapar's apparently earnest pleas for accountability are merely window dressing designed to conceal his real motive which could only be his hidden agenda to challenge Sjostrom for the Mayor's chair in the upcoming fall elections in November.

The Sentinel asked Coun. Thapar about this possibility and was told in no uncertain terms that he was not planning to run for the office of Mayor in the fall. Rather, he is just trying to keep the records straight and spending at a reasonable level given the tough economic times and that for some reason the Mayor and other councillors supporting her are misconstruing his motives and blocking his efforts at keeping the account books at city hall as transparent as possible.

Given the fact that Mayor Sjostrom is remaining adamant in her position that nothing is amiss even though Coun. Thapar has been waiting months for requested information this affair will in all likelihood continue to heat up as the civil elections this fall draw nearer.

Stay tuned folks as the saga unfolds.