Charbonneau Commission: Laval’s top municipal mandarins to testify Monday

Suspended from their jobs after city learns of pending appearance

By Robert Frank

The city’s top employee and his deputy are slated to appear before the Charbonneau inquiry, May 13, according to a source in UPAC, the police squad investigating corruption in Quebec’s construction industry.

Laval’s executive committee responded swiftly, recommending that city manager Gaétan Turbide and number two municipal official Jean Roberge be suspended immediately from their jobs, with pay, Mayor Alexandre Duplessis’ spokesman, Pierre-Philippe Lortie told The Suburban in an May 3 interview. The suspensions were slated to be ratified by city council at its May 6 meeting, just after the newspaper went to press.

“They met the mayor recently and told him of the upcoming appearance and that they might be required to disclose certain facts,” Lortie said. “The decision was made to ensure that the city can continue to operate peacefully.”

Another municipal mandarin, Gaétan Vadal, was expected to be called upon to take the helm of the municipal civil service during his boss’ absence.

After the city fired its municipal ombudsman, Diane Lemelin, Jan. 21, The Suburban reported a senior official at city hall as saying that Turbide had attempted to compromise the ombudsman’s independence by placing the office under his authority.

The newspaper obtained a copy of a Jan. 7 interim report, which claimed that the city administration and the mayor “systematically violated” the provisions of the Laval bylaw that created the ombudsman’s office.

In other Laval political news comes word that Mayor Duplessis has applied to the director general of elections for Quebec to register a new political party under whose banner he could run for office during municipal elections in November.

In a Dec. 4 interview, he told The Suburban that he had not decided whether to campaign as an independent candidate for mayor.

The new party would be called Avenir Laval–Équipe Duplessis.

Duplessis’ fellow city councilors elected him interim mayor last year, after his predecessor, Gilles Vaillancourt resigned. All the councilors had been members of Vaillancourt’s political party, but all resigned en masse after his departure, leaving city council temporarily devoid of overt party politics.

Since becoming mayor, Duplessis has nimbly stayed ahead of his political opponents by adopting many of their proposals.

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