Gerald Tremblay denies imminent end of political career
Published Thursday, October 25, 2012 2:26PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:30PM EDT
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay is denying reports that he has a specific date in mind to announce the end of his political career.
Tremblay said Thursday that he will finish his mandate as mayor.
"When I put my head on the pillow, I don't have a conscience problem, and when I get up in the morning, I say, 'Let's go, we have a lot of work to do,'" he said. "I can assure you that I was elected in 2009 for a four-year mandate."
However when pressed to respond to a newspaper report that he would announce on Nov. 2 the next step of his career, he deferred.
"The decision on my political future will never, never be linked to what you're hearing nowadays," said Tremblay, who has held office for 11 years.
Opposition parties say that even if Tremblay wasn't directly involved in any wrongdoing, he at least chose to look the other way.
"Now he can say, 'I didn't know,' -- but he didn't want to know," said Vision Montreal leader Louise Harel. "He has to resign and we can't understand how he could close to eyes during the last 10 years... There were alarm signals over the years which showed there was a inflation of prices (on construction) and taxpayers had to pay 30 to 35 per cent more...
"There's no proof that he put money in his pocket, there's just the proof that he closed his eyes and I say it's voluntary blindness."
Project Montreal leader Richard Bergeron said he has a responsibility to his constituents.
"He is responsible. He must explain himself to Montrealers and stop hiding behind the Charbonneau Commission, he said.
There is no way to force a mayor out once elected, but the Parti Quebecois said it is working on that legal void.
Minister Responsible for Montreal Jean-Francois Lisee said the mayor has to make the decision for himself.
"Mr. Tremblay is in a more difficult position, or less difficult, because he's not personally targeted by anything. Nothing in his house, nothing in his bank accounts. But clearly there are revelations about the fact that his party could have had a number of illegal contributions, so he has to ask this question for himself," said Lisee.
Multiple corruption scandals have blossomed at Montreal city hall during Tremblay's tenure as mayor, but the man himself has never been implicated in any scheme to defraud the public.
"Is there corruption or collusion at the city of Montreal? The answer is yes, but it has been going on for decades," Tremblay said.
Long before the latest admissions and allegations at the Charbonneau Commission implicated everyone from city engineers to the Executive Committee, Tremblay's second-in-command, Frank Zampino left politics under a cloud of suspicion.
Zampino, chair of the Executive Committee, stepped down in 2008 amid allegations of mishandling the water meter contract. At that time Zampino confirmed he had spent time on a yacht owned by Tony Accurso.
Zampino along with nine others including Paolo Catania of Frank Catania and Associates, were charged in July with committing fraud, and breach of trust related to a parcel of land sold by the city of Montreal.
The LIberals dragged their heels on inquiry: PQ
Meantime, the Parti Quebecois says Liberals owe Quebecers an apology.
Premier Pauline Marois and several of her ministers had harsh words for the party Thursday, accusing them of waiting too long to launch an inquiry into allegations of corruption and collusion in the construction industry.
“This could have started two years ago, we could have saved a lot of money, and I see our Liberal friends are really shameless,” said Jean-Francois Lisee, the minister responsible for Montreal.
Minister of Democratic Institutions Bernard Drainville agreed.
“If they're not apologizing today, we're going to keep on asking that they apologize for having lost millions, if not billions, of taxpayers’ money and having contributed to the setting up of a system that is corrupt to the bone,” he said.
With the mayors of Laval and Montreal now under scrutiny, the PQ said the Liberals are partly to blame for the scandals in both cities.
With a file from The Canadian Press