Corruption is eroding your quality of life, reducing public safety, and costing you money. Let’s fix it.
Our anti-corruption plan is one of the most ambitious municipal undertakings ever proposed. No, it’s not an expensive endeavor — it’s an innovative one. Even the anti-corruption experts we consulted hadn’t thought of addressing these problems at the municipal level.
The undertaking would be based on transparency, and backing our civil service.
- Reduce corruption. Corruption increases inequality, erodes our trust in governance, and overall reduces your quality of life.
- Corruption costs you money. Canada’s organized crime intelligence agency estimates corruption can increase municipal costs by as much as 50%, a bill taxpayers ultimately pay.
- Beneficial ownership. Not just for real estate, we’re expanding this to City contractors and the permitting process. Corrupt insiders won’t be able to hide behind Canada’s opaque laws when doing business here.
- Produce essential software to increase transparency. The best disinfectant is sunlight, and we’re going to eliminate the opacity that plagues our system. We’ll leverage our Open Source City plan to produce cost-effective solutions that make it hard to hide.
Canada is one of the safest countries in the world, but it also happens to have some of the most extensive organized crime networks. Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), the government agency that tracks organized crime, is monitoring 2,800 organized crime networks in Canada. In a report to government and law enforcement, the agency warned they’ve infiltrated the bidding system, driving up the cost of municipal projects 50% higher.
This isn’t just a federal spy agency aware of the issue. Toronto’s Auditor General received 820 complaints in 2021, an increase of 49% from 5 years before. Over the last five years, investigations have identified a loss of $28.2 million in tax dollars. That’s about the annual budget for the City’s planning department… doubled. Those funds identified were from a small fraction of the complaints investigated, due to a lack of resources.
The worst part? That’s just what’s reported to the auditor general. Additional agencies and corporations owned by the City of Toronto aren’t required to report allegations of fraud and corruption to the auditor general.
“Currently, the Toronto Public Service By-law does not require Agencies and Corporations to report allegations of fraud to the Auditor General’s Office.”— Toronto Auditor General, 2021 Annual Report
The economy, and every citizen, will benefit from a transparent crack down on corruption.
Together we’re going to go from the world’s laundromat to setting a global standard for transparency. By creating a more transparent system we make it easier to detect corruption, as well as deter it. Corruption tends to flow where it’s most difficult to pinpoint, and that doesn’t have to be us. With our Open Source City plan, it doesn’t have to be any of Canada’s cities — or even this continent.
Too abstract? Let’s briefly discuss some of the strategies we plan to elaborate on in the coming months.
A Radically Transparent Bidding Process
They’re your tax dollars, you should know how they’re being spent. By implementing a radically transparent bidding process, standardizing the inputs, and making it publicly available, you’ll see exactly where your money is going. Sounds good already, no? It gets better.
By having this data easily available, we can compare similar projects for timeline, cost, and value. Red flags stand out, and can be identified for further analysis. If similar projects are running significantly over budget, you should know why.
Contractors that provide value for the City can be rewarded with more work. At the same time, those that don’t but do so in good faith, can tap the City’s expertise to increase their productivity. Most Canadians can agree — we want people to be compensated for their contributions, we just don’t want to be ripped off.
A lot of government contract come in unusually low and are then revised significantly. We’ve come across contracts revised 14x higher than originally bid, without any public explanation. Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a $10 burger, and getting a bill for $140? We imagine you would have a few questions — is this a mistake? When you asked for bbq sauce, was it $130 or are they just straight up ripping you off? Asking these questions is a basic example of an exit audit.
Leveraging our transparent bidding plan, we can use machine learning to conduct automated exit audits. We no longer have to go by a gut feeling, we can leverage technology to better understand our costs. As the Open City plan expands, we can learn from other cities what things should cost and identify competition bottlenecks. The goal is a frictionless government that costs taxpayers less, not to expand bureaucracy and tax our already overworked auditor general.
Once again, our biggest win here is going to be deterrence. It would be pretty silly to screw taxpayers if they can see exactly how they’ve been screwed.
We look forward to elaborating on this plan too.
Beneficial Ownership For City Contractors and Permit Owners
Most people in Canada don’t realize the country doesn’t know who owns the vast majority of things in the country. From housing to corporations, the country chose not to collect that data for reasons beyond our understanding. Canada is finally making strides on this due to efforts from organizations like Transparency International Canada, but we can do more. Let’s take Canada from one of the most opaque countries in the world to one of the most transparent.
We’re going to build a beneficial ownership registry for licensing and permits. Local governments are frequent targets for corruption through the license and permitting process. Councilors can (and do) vote in their own undeclared interests, or those of their donors hidden through proxy. Or maybe people are just really good at acquiring land where taxpayers will be pouring in resources to increase value, and just happen to know a donor that might want to take it off their hands… Either way, we want you to know about it.