A probe by Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête has revealed close ties between the mayor of Mascouche, Que. and certain construction contractors.
The town northeast of Montreal is among the island's fastest growing communities, with unprecedented demand for housing because of explosive population growth. In the last five years, the town's population has almost doubled.
Long-time Mayor Richard Marcotte is proud of his record of bringing families, businesses and the commuter train to Mascouche. Even Quebec's provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec, chose Mascouche when it came time to build new regional headquarters.
Marcotte, who has served as Mascouche's mayor for 20 years, ran as a Liberal candidate in the 2003 provincial election. The next year, the Liberal government named him to the board of Quebec's police academy in Nicolet.
Developer speaks out
Jean-Guy Ouellette, a local developer, recruited Marcotte to run for mayor in 1991. ''At the time, I thought he'd be a good candidate,'' Ouellette said. However, Ouellette said, a couple of years after Marcotte was elected he began to make demands.
''Several times, he told me that mayors in other municipalities had certain advantages — that a mayor couldn't live on that salary alone. He wanted me to provide him with a house free of charge,'' Ouellette said . ''It was against my principles. I've never given anyone – except my wife – a house.''
Then, Ouellette told Enquête, Marcotte approached him on another matter.
''He had already hinted to me that to work in Mascouche, one should have to participate in party financing. Then, one day, he came to me and said, 'Here Jean-Guy, this is the list of all our suppliers.' "
''I didn't have the time — or the desire — to go meet all these people and put pressure on them — that if they wanted to work in Mascouche you had to give something back,'' Ouellette said.
When asked whether he meant a cash payment in return for contracts, Ouellette was blunt: ''There aren't many other ways.''
Quebec's election office investigates
Normand Trudel is a contractor in Mascouche and is so close to the mayor that he accompanied Marcotte on his honeymoon in 2007.
Between 2000 and 2009, Trudel's company, Transport et Excavation Mascouche got about $40 million in municipal contracts from the Town of Mascouche.
Investigators for Quebec's election office looked into allegations about the relationship between the businessman and the mayor.
One allegation they investigated said ''Excavation Mascouche makes backroom deals to benefit the Ralliement Mascouche [municipal] party. Suppliers, when they win a contract, give a five per cent cut to a secret fund.''
In the end, the province's elections office did not take any action in Mascouche.
Normand Trudel has refused every request for an interview about this. Marcotte says the growth in Mascouche speaks for itself and that he has nothing to add.
A full report of the investigation will be broadcast on Radio-Canada Thursday evening.