Laval gets its independence back

By Geneviève April

The Commission municipale du Québec announced Monday morning that it will lift Laval’s trusteeship, effective Dec. 9, 2013.

Interim mayor Alexandre Duplessis asked Quebec City to impose trusteeship in June, requiring provincial oversight of almost all the city’s business, after lawyer Jean Bertrand accused all but two members of the previous city council of having participated in an illegal election financing scheme. Police subsequently arrested former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt on multiple charges of gangsterism.

The decision to restore independence to Laval’s civic administration came hours before the newly elected city council’s first meeting, Nov. 18. Mayor Marc Demers had been very vocal on that topic during the election campaign, demanding that the municipal commission respect Laval’s voters decision. He insisted that it either lift the trusteeship altogether following the election or at least retreat to an advisory role. Prior to the election, there was no indication through its Laval delegates that that the municipal Commission had any intention of complying.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when, in a news release, the municipal commission stated that having met with the new mayor and his team, it felt confident in their openness, collaboration and rigor. The Commission’s delegates responsible for Laval stated that they have ensured a smooth transition in the wake of several working sessions with the newly elected administration to get them up to speed on current issues and to address some urgent matters.

The municipal commission left an indelible imprint while Laval was under trusteeship. It used its far-ranging powers to fill key municipal civil service posts, among them city manager Serge Lamontagne, Laval’s top official who oversees the day-to-day running of the city; police chief director Pierre Brochet; and ombudsman Nadine Mailloux.
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