Update: Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay has just announced his resignation. The defiant mayor said his decision is in the best interest of Montreal: “the success of this city is much more important than personal interest.”
Tremblay was defiant as he announced the news.
“One day justice will be done,” he vowed.
Our Martin Patriquin will have more on the story later this evening.
MONTREAL – A political death watch is intensifying in the Montreal area where a pair of scandal-plagued mayors are subject to speculation about their possible resignations.
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay is set to make a public address at city hall tonight at 7 p.m. ET, according to an announcement just made by his office.
Television crews have been gathering all day outside his office as he returned to work.
He has cancelled public appearances following the latest allegations to emerge from Quebec’s corruption inquiry.
Meanwhile, the city has suspended a fourth employee, an engineer, pending an internal investigation.
A few kilometres north, in Laval, Que., a statement from that municipality says its embattled mayor has not decided to resign — at least not yet.
“The mayor is continuing his period of rest and reflection,” said the statement from the city’s executive committee. “Once his decision is taken, it will be shared with you.”
He has been on leave for unspecified medical reasons. The statement was issued to rebut a news report that said Vaillancourt would resign on Tuesday or Wednesday.
A witness at a public inquiry recently accused Vaillancourt of pocketing kickbacks from construction contracts. He has also been accused, over the years, of offering provincial politicians cash bribes. Vaillancourt has angrily denied those accusations.
Police, however, have recently raided the mayor’s home and residences in Laval, a suburb that is Quebec’s third-largest municipality.
Meanwhile, another embattled mayor, Montreal’s Gerald Tremblay, was back at work Monday after also having taken time off at the end of last week.
But he remained out of sight, as television news crews gathered outside his office.
A spokeswoman for Tremblay said the mayor was at his desk and had several meetings planned. Martine Painchaud added that there were no public events on his schedule for Monday or Tuesday.
“I don’t think he has any public events tomorrow but, as for his private agenda, I don’t any information,” she said. “There are a lot of rumours going around (in the media) and I don’t know where they get their rumours from.”
Tremblay has never been accused of benefiting financially from corruption. But a witness at the inquiry last week testified that he was aware of, and indifferent to, illegal financing within his political party.
His sudden departure last week was brief but significant.
He has survived the one-year Nov. 3 deadline before the next municipal election. Under provincial law, had he resigned before Nov. 3 there would have been an early election. If he quits now, however, city council will pick a temporary mayor and the council is controlled by his party.
But the mayor’s grip on power may be loosening.
The budget he presented last week, which included property tax hikes, is apparently being rewritten following stern criticism from the provincial government.
The city also announced that it would suspend another employee, engineer Gilles Vezina, following three earlier suspensions. The city announced Monday that it would stop paying those suspended while it conducted an investigation.