Montreal councillor says raids could have been more discreet
Anti-corruption raids said to involve $100,000 bill tied to illegal-financing claims
Montreal city councillor Marvin Rotrand says he is unimpressed with the way Quebec's anti-corruption squad handled itself while descending on city hall and six borough offices on Tuesday.
"They were seeking some documents which they could probably have gotten just as easily by being more discreet, by sending one or two police officers with a warrant to talk to the general director at city hall and the directors of the boroughs," he said.
"If they were trying not to tip somebody off, they probably did."
Rotrand said Montrealers are living in an atmosphere of hysteria that dates back to before last September's provincial election.
"Everybody was presumed to be guilty, and yet, what we've seen, despite an inquiry … there's been actually very, very few charges," said Rotrand.
In all, 125 agents with Quebec's anti-corruption squad (UPAC) went searching for documents at city hall and six borough offices: Anjou, Verdun, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, St-Laurent, Lachine and Saint Léonard. The offices of former majority party Union Montréal were also targeted in the raids.
The raids are related to a $100,000 bill, which investigators believe is tied to allegations of illegal fundraising practices within the Union Montréal party, according to sources cited by Radio-Canada.
The bill was allegedly split in five to conceal the total amount.
"I really don't know what to make [of it]," said Rotrand. "We have to have confidence in the police department, but … there were really a lot of legitimate questions to ask about this."
The Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Côte-des-Neiges borough says it's co-operating fully with UPAC. In a statement, the borough said UPAC investigators showed "professionalism" and "courtesy" during yesterday's raids.
Public security minister asks for Montrealers' trust
Quebec's public security minister says Montrealers should retain their faith in public institutions after anti-corruption raids at Montreal City Hall and several borough offices yesterday.
Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron said Wednesday the public should have confidence in the government.
"If [Montrealers] must have confidence in certain individuals, I don't know, but they must have confidence in their institutions," he said.
"Of course, the best situation would be one there would be no suspicion of wrong-doing … but there has been wrongdoing, so … we have to [get] to the bottom of these things," said Jean-François Lisée, the minister responsible for Montreal.
Opposition leader backs Applebaum
The leader of Montreal's Opposition says Mayor Michael Applebaum still has her full support. She said she was in her office when UPAC arrived at about 4 p.m. ET and asked all elected officials to leave the building.
"We feel this investigation was the beginning of a big cleanup. And we need that," said Vision Montréal's leader, Louise Harel.
While she said she feels the former majority party let down its citizens, Harel said it's time to move forward.
"We feel angry, but we have to offer to Montrealers a new era," she said. "This coalition administration is the beginning of the clean and stable administration."
On Wednesday afternoon, Applebaum reiterated that police have his administration's full co-operation as they continue their investigation. He also stressed once again that he is not personally under investigation.
"This is work that has to get done, and I will work and collaborate with them in order for them to get all of the necessary information for them to do their work," he said. "It's a stain on the City of Montreal but at the same time, this is work that needs to be done."
Harel confirmed that on Tuesday night, investigators met with city councillors Alan DeSousa and Claude Dauphin, Mayor Applebaum and former mayor Gérald Tremblay.
UPAC officials says the raids are linked to an investigation dating back to 2010 that involved allegations of fraud, breach of trust and creating false documents.