'It won't be an easy year,' says Montreal's interim police chief
On loan from the Sûreté du Québec, Martin Prud'homme seeks to address internal turmoil within the SPVM
The man tasked with fixing Montreal's police force didn't immediately feel comfortable in the SPVM's trademark blue-trimmed uniform.
After nearly three decades in the Sûreté du Québec's dark green, Martin Prud'homme says the new uniform took some getting used to — and, more importantly, he didn't want to show up his new staff after he was appointed interim chief on Dec. 6.
Instead, he wore civilian clothes as he met with officers and posed questions during his first few days on the job.
"I decided to take on the challenge, but wasn't sure how I'd be received," he explained in an interview on Radio-Canada's Gravel le Matin.
Now, he says, he feels more at ease in his position and "proud to wear the uniform."
"If I can make a positive difference, I'll be very happy to do that," he said.
Prud'homme, who took a one-year leave from his post as the head of the SQ, is faced with the monumental challenge of restoring, as he puts it, not only the public's confidence in the SPVM, but also the confidence of the officers themselves.
"It won't be an easy year, a year of vacation, a year of rest, I know that," he said.
Prud'homme replaces Philippe Pichet, whose leadership skills were called into question in a damning report into the force's internal affairs department.
The report, prepared by former deputy justice minister Michel Bouchard, describes how several internal investigations into the conduct of police officers were "botched."
On Gravel, Prud'homme said his first goal is to put in place a team that can handle problems within internal affairs.
The SQ is currently handling those cases.
"For the past two years, we've been talking about internal probes, internal turmoil," he said. "I will fix those problems."
Francoeur's allegations still simmer
Prud'homme is faced with another problem that continues to bubble up.
Yves Francoeur, president of the Montreal police brotherhood, is standing by his allegations of influence-peddling among two senior members of the Quebec Liberal Party, even though an SQ-led investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Francoeur maintains that two MNAs, who he later identified as one-time finance minister Raymond Bachand and current Liberal house leader Jean-Marc Fournier, were the subject of a police investigation over an alleged fundraising scheme.
On Thursday, Francoeur resisted calls to resign from his post and told the French-language radio station 98.5 FM he made the allegations in good faith.
Prud'homme said he doesn't take issue with Francoeur bringing forward allegations, but argued that an investigation into the matter should not take place in the public sphere.
His mandate lasts until Dec. 31, 2018.
Prud'homme said he has no plans to stay on after that point and will recommend a successor.
With files from Radio-Canada's Gravel le Matin