Denis Coderre says Montreal has moved on from corruption

The incumbent mayor, who has painted himself as the man who rid Montreal of corruption and collusion, was forced to defend that record Tuesday after a report suggested many of the same big players are still bidding on lucrative municipal contracts.

Incumbent mayor says corruption stamped out, despite report that same big players still bidding on contracts

Denis Coderre shakes hands at Montreal's Armenian cultural centre. Coderre told the crowd of enthusiastic supporters that his administration has tackled corruption in Montreal. (Steve Rukavina/CBC)

In the final week of the campaign, we're following the two main Montreal mayoral candidates — Denis Coderre and Valérie Plante  — as they battle for top spot at city hall. Here's a look at what happened today.

Denis Coderre, who has often painted himself as the man who rid Montreal of corruption and collusion, was forced to defend that record Tuesday after a report suggested many of the same big players — perhaps with different names or in different forms — are still bidding on lucrative municipal contracts.

A joint investigation by La Presse and the Montreal Gazette found that many of the big companies involved in past corruption scandals may have been sold off, been reassembled or changed names, but they are still among those receiving the highest number of city engineering and construction contracts.

The investigation found the top three conglomerates on the list over the last four years were all affiliated with companies previously embroiled in corruption scandals.

'We brought back integrity': Coderre

"That article is tricky, to be honest," Coderre told reporters after greeting voters at an Armenian cultural centre Tuesday afternoon.

"I think that we brought back integrity. There is a new process. There is also the inspector general. So I hope we don't give the impression that it's same old, same old because it's not the case," Coderre said.

Coderre created the post of inspector general for the city and appointed respected lawyer Denis Gallant, who had previously worked as chief prosecutor for the Charbonneau commission.

Coderre said even if companies currently bidding on contracts are made up of parts of companies that had previously been involved in corruption, Gallant ensures they're legitimate.
Mayor Denis Coderre gives a thumbs up after inspecting a sewage collector in Montreal. Coderre has often portrayed himself as the man who rid Montreal of corruption. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

"When there's a change of guard that doesn't just mean the family who's passing the puck, because we would have known through the inspector general," Coderre said.

Coderre said companies hoping to bid on large contracts now have to be approved by the Autorité des marchés financiers, the province's securities regulator.

He said the proof that corruption has been curtailed is the fact that the average price of municipal contracts has dropped by about 25 per cent.

Coderre told supporters from Montreal's Armenian community that it was his administration that tackled corruption in Montreal.  He received enthusiastic applause.

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Coderre's main rival, Valérie Plante, wasn't available to speak to the media during the day Tuesday.

She was scheduled to speak to reporters Tuesday evening, while joining trick-or-treaters for Halloween in the Villeray district.

Make a date with CBC for election night this Sunday, Nov. 5:

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On Radio: Listen to CBC Radio One starting at 8 p.m. for a province-wide show hosted by Mike Finnerty in Montreal and Susan Campbell in Quebec City.