Group revives Jean Drapeau's Civic Action League

A new group aiming to take on corruption in Montreal and the entire province launched its campaign yesterday.
Frédéric Lapointe is the president of the Civic Action League, a group taking aim at corruption in Montreal and across the province. (CBC)

A new group aiming to take on corruption in Montreal and the entire province launched its campaign yesterday.

The Civic Action League was founded in 2011 by citizens, politicians and political organizers.

Its president, Frédéric Lapointe, said it’s not a political party; rather, it’s a non-profit organization looking to hold politicians in office accountable.

He said they would accomplish this by asking political parties to take a stand on 10 different issues instead of asking them outright about whether they were honest.

They want to start by asking all mayoral candidates for Montreal’s November election to answer a questionnaire.

Lapointe said the questionnaire will help voters decide on who the best candidates are, and would also help keep them accountable.

"We'll know who’s defecting on [their platform], we'll know who will not respect their engagement and we'll ensure in the next election in 2017, if necessary, that people who are not respecting their engagement pay political consequences," he said.

Jean Drapeau shows off the Olympic Velodrome to IOC President Lord Killanin during a tour of the cycling facilities July 7, 1976. (Doug Ball/Canadian Press picture archive)

Blast from the past

If the name of the group sounds familiar, it’s because they named it after former Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau’s first party.

Drapeau was mayor of Montreal from 1954-57 with the Civic Action League, and then again from 1960-1986 with the Civic Party.

The original Civic Action League was formed in 1951 by good-government activists.

Lapointe, of the current incarnation, said they’re looking to "cure the same problem" of corruption Drapeau fought against in his early years.

"We saw that, by looking back in the days and looking back at the solutions of the past, we could revive the same organization, use the same means and cure the same problem," he said.

Still, Drapeau’s career wasn't marked by transparency and accountability.

He's perhaps best remembered for large scale, expensive projects like Expo 67, the Montreal metro, the Turcot Interchange and the 1976 Olympics, the latter taking Montrealers 30 years to pay off.