Laval mayor resigns after prostitution allegations
Alexandre Duplessis was interim mayor for just over 6 months
Laval's interim mayor, Alexandre Duplessis, has resigned in the wake of a scandal allegedly involving prostitutes and extortion.
His resignation was tendered to a city clerk and is effective immediately.
News broke late Thursday evening that Duplessis had reportedly hired an escort to come to his chalet in the Laurentians.
Police sources told Radio-Canada that the allegation involves an incident that happened on June 14. Duplessis allegedly requested the service of a prostitute, who went to his chalet accompanied by a female driver. One of the two women recognized him, and Duplessis allegedly cancelled the encounter without paying.
The women insisted on being paid and made three attempts to collect the money.
Duplessis filed a complaint with Quebec provincial police, a fact he confirmed this morning without addressing the details, circumstances or relationship he had with the women. He also said an arrest had been made in the case.
Quebec provincial police confirmed they are looking into a complaint about extortion, but would not discuss details.
On Friday morning, Duplessis held a news conference at Laval City Hall in which he tried to explain himself.
He said he refused to resign and denied soliciting or receiving sexual favours from a prostitute, but did say he had been a victim of attempted extortion by two women.
"I never solicited, I never received anything of a sexual nature," he said. "I never received [anything] of a sexual nature and I never received favours of a sexual nature."
He also said during the news conference that he would not resign.
"I will continue my work as mayor," he said. "I will continue my work for the citizens of Laval. I will not resign over this extortion threat."
He resigned around 2:30 p.m. ET.
Laval plagued by scandal
Duplessis was elected interim mayor in November after long-time mayor Gilles Vaillancourt resigned under a cloud of corruption allegations.
Vaillancourt was later arrested and charged with a number of offences including gangsterism. He has maintained his innocence.
The entire 21-member council was at one time part of Vaillancourt's Parti PRO des Lavallois. The party was dissolved after Vaillancourt's resignation and some council seats are now vacant.
Duplessis and others from the party were recently implicated in testimony before the province's corruption commission.
Jean Bertrand, the former official agent for the PRO des Lavallois party, told the commission that the interim mayor and others at city hall along knowingly accepted illegal payments to cover campaign contributions.
He told the commission that every member of Laval's executive committee, and almost every elected official in the mayor's party, took cash that came from colluding engineering companies in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Bertrand is currently facing criminal charges and was arrested in the same police sweep that saw charges laid against Vaillancourt.
Duplessis is not facing any charges based on the allegations made before the commission.
Regaining trust in Laval
Concordia University political economics Prof. Harold Chorney said many great cities have faced similar controversies, but most bounce back.
"It has very negative repercussions, but over time you can rebuild the city and its reputation," he said.
Marc Demers, the leader of the Mouvement lavallois party, said Duplessis had no other choice but to resign.
He said he would have saved himself and his family some major embarrassment if he'd resigned earlier.
According to a statement issued by the City of Laval on Friday afternoon, the current members of the municipal council will be asked to elect a new interim mayor who will hold office until the upcoming Nov. 3 election.
Quebec’s Municipal Affairs Minister Sylvain Gaudreault said he wouldn’t comment on the case, other than to say the city will remain under trusteeship and that he hoped a new interim mayor would be chosen quickly.
Robert Bordeleau, leader of the Parti au service du citoyen and a Laval mayoralty candidate, said the city shouldn't have to wait until November's election to vote on a new mayor.
But despite opposition protests, executive council vice-president Basile Angelopoulos said a new interim mayor will be in office by next Friday.