Desmeules asks Lecompte to retract press release

Desmeules asks Lecompte to retract press release

By Tracey Arial
With files from Robert Frank

The City of Laval’s ethics and integrity office (Bureau d’intégrité et d’éthique de Laval or BIEL) became a focus of the May 5 council meeting, thanks to the release of its annual report and a question to Alain Lecompte from Sandra Desmeules.

Lecompte, an independent councillor who left the Movement lavallois in November, distributed a press release in April that questioned whether BIEL’s capacity could be controlled for political ends. In the release, dated April 5, 2015, Lecompte wrote:

“When we know that the principal problems of integrity stem from the actions of upper management and the executive, the composition of BIEL makes denunciations difficult because the confidentiality of complainants against the administration is not protected.”

Demeules, the member of the executive committee responsible for security, asked him to retract his release.

“His affirmations tarnish the image of a city that is rigorously and continuously working to re-establish its reputation,” she said in part. “I ask him publicly to retract his comments.”

Lecompte’s concerns stem from the composition of BIEL’s comité directeur (steering committee), whose titles appear in a footnote on page two of the BIEL report. They are: Police Chief Pierre Brochet, city manager Serge Lamontagne, assistant general manager of administration Carole Imbeault, human resources director Marc-André Vigeant and legal department manager Patrice F. Guay.

During the council meeting, however, Lecompte didn’t notice that footnote.

As he answered Desmeule’s question, he was looking at the large organizational diagram that appears as appendix 1 in BIEL’s annual report.

The large organizational chart that forms appendix one shows Police Chief Pierre Brochet heading up BIEL. Right below him is Benoit Paquette, with a new title corporate affairs deputy director in charge of protecting municipal ethics and integrity (directeur-adjoint de la direction de l’affaires corporative de la protection de l’integrité et de l’ethique municipal). 

Two separate investigative branches appear below Brochet and Paquette. A police team handles complaints about potential crimes. A team of bureaucrats handle administrative concerns.

“Despite those changes, my analysis remains sound,” said Lecompte, the night of the meeting. “I won’t retract. This isn’t personal. I don’t mention the names of anyone in my press release.”

That decision upset some of his colleagues on city council.

“I am disappointed that M. Lecompte is incapable of admitting his error,” said Desmeules later the same week. “He could demonstrate a bit of dignity by retracting his release, but he persists in unfounded accusations and throwing mud at the mayor and the upper administration.”

Mayor Marc Demers defended himself when answering a question about Lecompte later in the week.

“He [Lecompte] was asked if he had any evidence or proof about me but especially about the city manager and the police officers,” said Demers, in a conversation with reporter Robert Frank. “We’ve made sure that police officers are independent. Should I ever intervene in an investigation, any police can assess whether I am contravening the criminal code interfering with the work of a police officer. So I’m never going to go there.”

Lecompte doesn’t plan to fight BIEL any further, but he remains convinced that a structure in which upper level bureaucrats have control over everything is a problem, regardless of who might occupy the particular positions.

“They’re all so wrapped up in image,” he said. “With me, it’s more the facts or actions that count. On the criminal side, we may eventually see the results of BIEL, but the administrative side isn’t so clear. The fact that BIEL exists doesn’t eliminate the possibility of corruption within the open-bidding system, for instance.”

“My analysis remains sound,” asserted Laval independent councillor Alain Lecompte.
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