By Tracey Arial
Last Thursday Verdun borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau suspended his borough manager Pierre Boutin, urban planning manager Benoit Malette and Jean Cardin, an engineer who heads the development planning, technical studies and business services team.
He has the right to do so under clause 52 of Quebec’s City and Towns Act.
The decision stems from a report about the relationship between promoters and Verdun bureaucrats in 2008, 2009 and 2010 by Montreal’s Controller Alain Bond. Bond himself turned his report over to the provincial anti-corruption unit UPAC last July.
“I made the decision to suspend three officials who are alleged to have participated in irregularities identified by the controller last summer,” said Parenteau. “This is to protect the integrity of a disciplinary investigation now underway. The suspensions may be temporary or the investigation may lead to reprimands or dismissals.”
No charges are pending against any of the employees and all have worked for the borough for years (Boutin 27, Malette 11 and Cardin 10). They took over their current positions early in 2012 after previous borough manager Gilles Baril retired. Malette used to do Cardin’s job but was promoted after Dany Tremblay, the previous head of the Verdun urban planning and business services department, left the borough to work for former mayor Georges Bossé at his company Groupe Conseil BC2FP. BC2FP has since merged with Planex consultants and Parent Latreille to become BC2.
Verdun’s internal investigation is expected to be completed in time for its recommendations to be discussed during the next regular borough meeting on March 4.
A special council meeting took place last Monday at 5 p.m. to discuss the issue. Six citizens asked questions about a missing organogram on Verdun’s website, whether the report concerns the school on Nun’s Island (it doesn’t), on what dates the alleged irregularities took place (2008, 2009 and 2010) and whether the employees will return to work (they will, unless the investigation recommends otherwise).
Councillors unanimously passed resolutions to suspend and temporarily replace two of the three bureaucrats, despite not having read the controllers’ report.
Two councillors, Sterling Downey and Luc Gagnon, made short comments explaining their votes.
“I appreciate the mayor’s openness and inclusion of all councillors in this matter,” said Downey, who made a point of making his point in English. “I vote in favour.”
Former Verdun mayor Claude Trudel approved Parenteau’s decision on his Facebook page, and also took pains to mention that he’s the one who originally called Bond in to report on the issue last May.
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