Duplessis asks for trusteeship

Gobé demands mayor’s resignation

By Robert Frank

It took scathing allegations that Mayor Alexandre Duplessis committed election finance fraud to spur Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Sylvain Gaudreault to action on May 31.

More than three weeks after police arrested and charged former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt and 36 associates with gangsterism, the Parti québécois cabinet minister agreed to place the city under trusteeship after receiving a request from the mayor to do so.
Duplessis said Friday that he had talked to Gaudreault and that they agreed that trusteeship would be in the city’s best interest, even as Duplessis denied the allegations against him. He added that he wanted to stay on as mayor while the city remains under provincial control, until the upcoming municipal election, Nov. 3.

“It’s a good decision,” Gaudreault said in a statement. “During the past year a number of extraordinary developments have seriously undermined public confidence in the city’s civic administration.”

While details of the cabinet decree to make the trusteeship official had not been released when The Suburban went to press, Gaudreault indicated that once the provincial government takes control it would “exercise legal oversight in approving or rejecting the municipality’s decisions.”

When police made their arrests, May 9, Action Laval’s mayoral candidate Jean-Claude Gobé immediately called upon Gaudreault to impose trusteeship. “We sent [Gaudreault] an official letter,” Gobé told The Suburban in a May 31 interview. “We never heard from him. No phone call. No letter. Nothing. We are an officially recognized political party in Laval, and we didn’t even get an acknowledgement that he had recieived this letter about a very important matter.”

A call to Gaudreault’s office by The Suburban quickly changed that situation.

“We received an acknowledgement 35-minutes later,” Gobé said in a follow-up interview.
Believing that leaving the current administration in place under trusteeship would be like having the fox guard the henhouse, Gobé for his part, has escalated his demands, calling for Duplessis’ immediate ouster.
“This is a whole new level of accusations,” he said emphasizing the allegedly criminal origin of the money that Duplessis was accused of channeling through proxies to his former political party.
“If [the accusations] prove true, that means right now Laval is being held hostage by mobsters,” Gobé thundered. “That’s very serious.”
“The Minister—and probably the police as well—must act swiftly,” he demanded. “This farce can’t go on, because the public can’t take being the butt of the joke much longer. No one considers them credible any longer.”

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