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More Quebec Corruption

November 11, 2012 by  

More Quebec Corruption, The mayor of Quebec’s third-largest city resigned on Friday after police searched his home, offices and bank deposits as part of a corruption probe in the Canadian province. “I’m speaking to you for the last time as mayor of Laval,” Gilles Vaillancourt said in a nationally-televised address after 23 years as mayor of the city of 400,000, north of Montreal. “I’ve decided to step down and retire from politics permanently,” he said, adding that he has always acted in the interest of the people of Laval.

These are “difficult times with officials at every level (being) accused of wrongdoing that even without proof are altering the reputations of those with whom you’ve placed your trust,” he said. “I am one of those persons.” Vaillancourt’s departure is the second this week of a Quebec big city mayor. Montreal’s mayor resigned last Monday after witnesses at a corruption probe linked him to illegal party financing skimmed from city construction contracts as part of an alleged mafia scheme. A commission headed by Superior Court Justice France Charbonneau had heard in recent weeks that the Montreal mayor’s political party received kickbacks from construction bids.

Witnesses also told the commission investigating alleged graft, bid-rigging and kickbacks in the awarding of government construction contracts that the Montreal mayor was aware of illegal party financing and campaign spending. Vaillancourt was accused of taking bribes. Both mayors have rejected the accusations. Sylvain Gaudreault, a rival Quebec politician of the Parti Quebecois, welcomed Vaillancourt’s resignation as “the best decision that could be taken.”

The Charbonneau commission was launched after a leaked police report pointed to evidence that construction companies were banding together to keep prices high, and possibly had links to organised crime. It will release its findings next year.

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