Mafia ties run deep at city hall: Labonte
The former leader of the opposition Benoit Labonte has admitted to the allegations brought against him this week, but says corruption ties run deep at city hall.
Labonte stepped down as leader of the opposition at city hall and resigned as lieutenant to Vision Montreal mayoral candidate Louise Harel Saturday after he was accused of taking $100,000 from Tony Accurso, the businessman behind the water meter scandal. The bribe was meant to fund Labonte's Vision Montreal leadership bid in the spring of 2008.
In a three-hour interview with Radio-Canada Wednesday night, Labonte confessed to the allegations, saying he wanted to clear his conscience. He also intended to shed light on corruption in city hall.
Labonte's mea culpa comes just a few days after he denied his ties to Accurso, and he now says he lied to protect his colleagues. Further, he said the kickback is just the tip of the iceberg as far as corruption at city hall is concerned, and that the Italian mafia controls about 80 per cent of city hall.
"Is there a Mafia system that controls city hall? The response is yes," said Labonte in the Radio-Canada interview.
Labonte's political demise, and now his tell-all interview, have Vision Montreal candidate Louise Harel in a tough spot, but she says she won't talk about his allegations until she sees the whole interview.
"We need a real public inquiry about the relation between the construction industry and the municipal world," she said.
Mayor Gerald Tremblay made himself unavailable for comment today, speaking only with Le Devoir, where he admitted that as far back as 2001, he's heard about kickbacks at city hall, but says at the time, he didn't have enough evidence to act.
Tremblay also said he feared for his family after two firebombs were found outside his Laurentian home in 2005.
Projet Montreal candidate Richard Bergeron said he's acting on some safety advice from former police chief Jacques Duchesneau.
"Since last Sunday, I've had the protection of the police of Montreal," he said.
Corruption on the provincial level
Municipal politics aren't all that seem to need a clean-up, after another bombshell was dropped in the National Assembly Thursday afternoon.
The Action Democratique party's interim leader Sylvia Roy claimed three Liberal cabinet ministers vacationed on Accurso's yacht.
"I made verification... made sure of that," she affirmed.
With files from The Canadian Press