Montreal opposition files complaint with Élections Quebec over road paving announcement

Montreal’s official opposition has filed a complaint with Élections Québec against Mayor Valérie Plante — claiming she used a road-paving announcement to boost her candidate’s chances in this month's by-election.

Opposition says Montreal mayor misused public funds by making announcement during byelection campaign

Gouin Boulevard East will finally get repaved after being named the worst road in the province by CAA-Quebec, but the way the project was announced has drawn an official complaint. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal's official opposition has filed a complaint with Élections Quebec against Mayor Valérie Plante — claiming she used a road paving announcement to boost her candidate's chances in this month's by-election.

The complaint dates back to Saturday when Plante announced plans to repave 11 kilometres of Gouin Boulevard East in the borough of Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles.

It's a stretch of road that CAA-Quebec designated the worst in the province this summer. The work is needed and plans have been in the making for some time, but the fact that Plante went to the borough to make the announcement is what caught the eye of opposition leader Lionel Perez.

Plante made the announcement as the Dec. 16 byelection for borough mayor is underway and Projet Montréal's candidate, Caroline Bourgeouis, was involved.

She sent out her own press release within an hour of Plante's announcement, "enthusiastically" welcoming the news. 

There was an article published in the local newspaper where the two women are seen together near Gouin Boulevard and Projet Montréal even tweeted two days later, saying Plante made the announcement with Bourgeouis.

All this, said Perez, is a misuse of public funds to promote a political candidacy.

Perez later criticized Plante for announcing the city's new immigration plan in Saint-Michel Wednesday where another byelection is taking place.

"Usually, this kind of announcement is made at city hall," Perez said. "It's an old-fashioned way of playing politics, taking advantage of power to try to gain an electoral advantage."

The two byelections are taking place because Chantal Rouleau and Frantz Benjamin, both former members of Ensemble Montréal, were elected to the National Assembly in October. Rouleau was mayor of  Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles and Benjamin was a councillor representing Saint-Michel.

Though he expressed concerns about both districts to the media, Perez's official complaint zeroes in on Saturday's paving announcement.

But Plante responded to both concerns Wednesday, telling reporters she chose Saint-Michel to announce her immigration plan because there are many immigrants there and, she added, the plan to repave Gouin Boulevard was already part of the three-year capital works budget.

"We will let the complaint run its course," she told Radio-Canada. "When I announced my budget three weeks ago, it was done near city hall. The Gouin project was already registered."

With files from Radio-Canada