MONTREAL -- Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said that her star candidate for borough mayor in Montreal North, Will Prosper, deserves a second chance after it was revealed that he leaked information to a gang-affiliated member and childhood friend while he was an RCMP officer.

"Will Prosper is more than this error," said Plante.

Plante said there was nothing criminal in what he is alleged to have done.

"Ultimately what I need to look at is the proof, the data we have and the documentation," said Plante. "We know that there is no criminal cases or charges, that also is important."

The Projet Montreal candidate was an RCMP officer from 1998 to 2001 in Manitoba before leaving the force to pursue an activism and filmmaking career. Prosper was forced to quit the RCMP for leaking information about a gang-affiliated childhood friend, Steve Bernavil, who was suspected in a homicide investigation, according to a 2002 adjudication board decision into his conduct. 

Bernavil was in the Dope Squad, which Prosper was a member of as a teenager. At the time, it was a breakdancing and music group, and Prosper, a founding member, left before it reportedly became affiliated with crime.

The adjudication board decision stated Prosper ran multiple queries on suspects in police databases, which he claimed was out of "curiosity." The board dismissed the defence as implausible. 

'SERIOUS' BREACH

The decision stated "Constable Prosper wilfully breached the integrity of the CPIC system and discussed the information obtained with a known criminal who was under observation by the MUCPD Homicide Squad. This breach, given the surrounding circumstances, is, for a peace officer, amongst the most serious."

Prosper was never criminally charged in relation to this conduct, but the board's Dec. 20, 2002 decision ruled that Prosper had to quit within 14 days or face termination. 

While Prosper was cooperative with investigators and provided them with his phone bills as part of the probe into his conduct, and participated in a polygraph test, “Constable Prosper was not completely forthright.”

“Two supervisors would take Constable Prosper under their command again,” the decision stated.

However, the board ruled that his apology was not sincere and that he “continued to associate with known criminals while conscious of their activities.”

“Constable Prosper showed no visible remorse. He repeatedly stated the investigation was a waste of time and was not forthright. A Board would expect in an instance such as this that a member would show complete remorse and a sincere attempt at repair. This is not the case here.”

While addressing the media directly, Prosper acknowledged what he did was wrong and and that he paid the price for it with his job. He said voters should judge him on his record over the past two decades working in the community rather than just his conduct in uniform.

"I have a resume that speaks for itself. I worked for the youth for so many years trying to reintegrate them, empower them in this community. We don't have it easy Montreal North, there's a reason for that," he said. 

Plante said that the dismissal was over 20 years ago, and that he has paid for the indiscretion.

"He has paid, he has learned, and I don't want to limit Will Prosper to that mistake that he made," said Plante. "For me, Will Prosper is still a person that has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to grassroots work and helping the citizens of Montreal."

Prosper has been a vocal critic of the Montreal police (SPVM) and advocated for defunding the police amid the Black Lives Matter protests.

Plante said Prosper shares her objective in running the borough, and that they will work with the SPVM in a proactive and positive way. 

"I trust and work very well with the SPVM," said Plante. "This work needs to continue."

CODERRE CALLS FOR PROSPER TO DROP OUT

One of Plante's political rivals, Ensemble Montreal mayoral candidate Denis Coderre, denounced Plante's decision to keep Prosper on as a candidate, saying it is a matter of public safety, especially with gun violence on the rise in recent weeks.

"I think that dignity is in order and legitimacy is in order," he said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. "So I truly believe that Mr. Prosper shouldn't be a candidate. But the mayor, the current mayor, chose to protect their activist, instead of protecting Montrealers, and I truly believe that it went too far. At this time, we need to secure the population."

“We are talking about street gangs, we are talking about security, we are talking about extremely sensitive information that can have repercussions,” said Coderre, making note of recent gunfire in nearby Riviere-des-Prairies and Prosper’s vocal criticisms of police. “And you have a person who wants to be mayor of a borough, who does not have the credibility and the trust, because we don’t know who he is going to talk to.”

Coderre's candidate, Christine Black, is the incumbent borough mayor of Montreal North.

“We have a team that believes in security,” he said. “Our job is to ensure neighbourhoods are safe, and fight against crime.”

Coderre is calling on Plante to drop Prosper as a candidate, saying “security in not a partisan issue, it’s issue number one of the next election campaign."

Plante fired back at Coderre's comments, saying it was unfair that her opponent was given a second chance, but that Prosper shouldn't. 


LISTEN ON CJAD RADIO: Will Prosper's past comes back to haunt him

 
With files from Joe Lofaro