By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 17, 2013 - 0 Comments
A little more of the back story to this week’s news about Thomas Mulcair and the envelope.
In November 2010, Bloc Quebecois MP Serge Menard, since retired, alleged that, in 1993, he was offered a cash-filled envelope by the mayor of Laval. On November 16, 2010, Mr. Mulcair—nearer the end of a news conference with Pat Martin about Louis Riel—was asked about the controversy.
Two questions for Mr. Mulcair. One, you might have heard of allegations of the mayor of Laval handing out cash in envelopes. Were you ever offered cash in an envelope by the mayor of Laval? Did you ever see cash in envelopes around the mayor of Laval?
Mr. Mulcair responded as follows.
No. And one thing preoccupies me with that is that a person who went on to become justice minister and public security minister, felt that he wouldn’t do anything about it. In my career, the only time anybody ever came up to me with an issue they described had happened to them, that would’ve constituted an offence, I invited the person to go to the police and when they said they weren’t sure if they could do that, I said that I would do it myself and I did. And it had nothing to do, by the way, with Laval city hall. It was an issue involving somebody in the work that I was doing at the time. So I’ll leave it to you to sort out the different versions that are no doubt going to come out today. But all I can say is, as a citizen, I’m worried with regard to our democratic institutions when someone who went on to become justice minister and public security minister says he didn’t seem to have anything he could do about it and in regard to those institutions I think it’s a serious preoccupation for all of us.
As the Canadian Press noted yesterday and the Globe’s Daniel LeBlanc notes in his story, whether Mr. Mulcair saw what was in the envelope that the mayor of Laval alleged brandished during the 1994 meeting—apparently before Mr. Mulcair was elected, for whatever that is worth—is a matter of some debate. But the Conservatives seem to be trying to chide Mr. Mulcair now in a similar fashion to the way Mr. Mulcair chided Mr. Menard in 2010.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
In the wake of a report from La Presse about Thomas Mulcair’s statements to police about a meeting with former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, the NDP released a statement from Mr. Mulcair this morning.
In early 2011, I met with the police in order to help in their investigation.
I gave to them my account of a meeting I had with Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt dating back to 1994.
As is indicated, I effectively and immediately ended the meeting with Mr. Vaillancourt.
This matter is currently before the courts and I will therefore avoid further comment.
The Conservatives followed that with a statement from Peter Van Loan.
The Canadian Press summarizes.
A statement from House Leader Peter Van Loan accused Mulcair of remaining silent about corruption for two decades. It also accused him of lying during a 2010 press conference, when he said he had never been offered a bribe during his time in Quebec politics…
It’s unclear whether Mulcair was in fact lying on Nov. 16, 2010, when a journalist asked at an Ottawa press conference whether he had ever been offered cash envelopes by Vaillancourt and he said: “No.” The report in La Presse said Mulcair told police he’d actually left the 1994 meeting without opening, or accepting, a white envelope and did not know for sure that there was cash inside.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 10:23 AM - 0 Comments
John Geddes on the NDP leader’s rise through the ruthless world of Quebec politics to become the PM’s toughest opponent yet
Thomas Mulcair grew up in a Montreal suburb as the second-oldest of 10 children in his family, which is noteworthy enough. Even more remarkable, though, at least by today’s standards, is that he remembers his parents hoping for just a few more kids. “When my mother would have a child,” the NDP leader recalled recently, “my father would always bring her 14 roses, because they decided when they were married that they would have 14 children.” His father, Harry, was an insurance man of Irish-Catholic descent, and his mother, Jeanne, a teacher from an old French-Canadian family, was of course Catholic, too. For another public figure, details like these might be mere background colour. In Mulcair’s case, apart from the roses, every bit of it—the many brothers and sisters, the Quebec roots, a Catholicism devout enough to entail mass on weekdays before school, even the Irish streak—is central to his emergence as a formidable political fighter and plausible future prime minister.
By his own account in an interview with Maclean’s, backed up by the observations of some who have worked closely with him, Mulcair’s upbringing in such a large, tightly knit, complex household remains the template for his important relationships. Aides and allies say he maintains unusually close contact with family and old friends, cultivating an intensely personal network and leaning on time-tested loyalties more than most top politicians. While he is no longer an observant churchgoer, Mulcair’s brand of left-leaning politics flows directly out of his home province’s distinctive and deep well of progressive Catholicism—a powerful influence on seminal Quebec politicians of the past, including Pierre Trudeau. As for Mulcair’s Irishness, Graham Carpenter, an old family friend and long-time aide, alludes to his “Irish world view,” and not jokingly, as an explanation for Mulcair’s storied scrappiness and more. “There’s mystique to it,” Carpenter says, “that’s for sure.”
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, September 17, 2012 at 5:51 PM - 0 Comments
Charbonneau commission, fall session: All eyes on Laval’s Gilles Vaillancourt and Montreal’s Gérald Tremblay
In the end, Donnie Brasco didn’t show up.
For days now, Montreal media has been salivating at the prospect that one of the FBI’s most famous agents would be testifying at the opening day of the commission investigating corruption in Quebec’s construction industry. For good reason: under the moniker Donnie Brasco, Joe Pistone infiltrated New York’s Bonanno clan, and for six years gathered intelligence that would drive a stake through the heart of one of America’s biggest crime families. Also, Johnny Depp played him in a movie. You decide which is more impressive.
Pistone might well still show up at the so-called Charbonneau Commission, whose 18-month mandate includes the examination of the industry’s ties with organized crime. When I asked if Brasco was showing up, as Radio-Canada reported last week, commissioner spokesperson Richard Bourbon smiled. “We never said he was coming in the first place,” he said, winking.
Instead, the first day of the commission’s fall proceedings—Maclean’s wrote about the spring/summer session here—with Judge France Charbonneau essentially pleading with journalists to behave themselves. “The imperative is on the security of the witness, we can’t have them put in danger,” Charbonneau said in her opening remarks. “We are asking the media, with respect, to not publish the names of witnesses before they appear.”
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
The correction may be slated for spring, two years after her murder
For Ali Altaie, the warm spring weather can’t come soon enough. The co-director of the Hamza Cemetery, an Islamic burial ground in Laval, Que., has been fielding frequent phone calls in the wake of the Shafia “honour killing” trial that saw Mohammad Shafia, his wife, Tooba Yahya, and son Hamed convicted on four counts of first-degree murder. Their victims, Rona Amir Mohammad and sisters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti are buried in a neat row in Altaie’s cemetery. And people keep calling to tell him about a disconcerting mistake on one of their graves that the family doesn’t appear to care enough about to correct.
At 13, Geeti was the youngest of those killed and dumped into the Rideau Canal at Kingston, Ont. But her date of birth, barely visible above the snow on the grounds of the cemetery, is erroneously chiselled on her tombstone as “22-10-1991”—the same date inscribed on the grave of her beloved, 17-year-old big sister Sahar, which sits beside hers. “We’ll fix it,” Altaie tells Maclean’s, clearly frustrated with the attention brought by the mistake.
But any alterations will have to wait. The company that provides tombstones for the cemetery won’t make repairs to them during the winter because the ground is frozen. “They’re supposed to go and fix it as soon as the weather is good,” says Altaie.
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, April 18, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 7 Comments
Corruption allegations fly, but voters love him
The cabane à sucre is an annual rite for many Quebecers, and on a recent Friday afternoon, 650 golden agers from the city of Laval, a vast suburb north of Montreal, bused into the nearby town of St. Eustache to eat crepes with maple syrup, cretons, and maple syrup-flavoured fèves au lard, and to indulge in a spot of line dancing. Aside from the festive sense common to sugaring-off events, though, this one had a spirit of civic pride. “Our mayor is number one!” said Gino, an ebullient 58-year-old. “Every year he invites us here.” “It doesn’t cost us anything. It’s a gift from Mayor Vaillancourt,” said Gabriel, who along with his wife was on his fourth free cabane à sucre outing.
Indeed it was: the merry event was entirely paid for by PRO Lavallois, the political party that has governed Laval for 22 years—the last 10 unopposed. Paying for seniors to go to a cabane à sucre has been a tradition for over 15 years. Over the course of two days, the party footed the bill for some 2,600 seniors, at an estimated cost of $16 per person, and most were quite appreciative. Attendees interviewed by Maclean’s said cabane à sucre was something they looked forward to every year. Across the room, the object of their affection, Gilles Vaillancourt—the bespectacled 70-year-old architect of PRO Lavallois’s two-decades-long supremacy and a man currently mired in allegations of bribery, favouritism and influence peddling—shook every hand, listened to every anecdote and chuckled graciously at every joke.
The event had all the hallmarks of a campaign stop, down to the huge “Team Vaillancourt” banners decorating the sugar shack and the PRO Lavallois pens handed to every senior as they left. Yet the next election isn’t for two years, and the people in attendance aren’t all PRO members. Arguably, Vaillancourt wouldn’t need to campaign even if there were an election—he beat his last opponent by nearly 40 percentage points in 2009. He just seems to love doing it.
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Get all the numbers behind our exclusive survey. And see where your city ranks.
The Maclean’s survey of Canada’s Best and Worst Run Cities, published in our July 27th issue, misstated the residential tax burden for the city of Longueuil, Quebec. The original figure, as compiled for Maclean’s by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, put the average tax burden per residence at $666. The city of Longueuil has now revealed its own estimate is $1241 per residence. The published figure was calculated using only those taxes directly assessed by the City of Longueuil and failed to include the taxes paid by city residents to cover services provided to the entire Longueuil Urban Agglomeration (of which the city forms a part).
The adjustment means Longueuil’s grade for taxation efficiency falls from an A+ to a C+, or from 1st to 14th among the municipal governments surveyed. Accordingly, it drops from fifth place to seventh in the overall rankings.
Maclean’s regrets the error.
This survey, the first of its kind in Canada, provides citizens in 31 cities across the country with comparative data on how well—or poorly—their city is run, measured by the cost and quality of the public services it delivers. (Why 31? We took the 30 largest cities in Canada, added whatever provincial capitals were not on the list, then subtracted a few cities from the Greater Toronto Area for better regional balance. Somehow that left 31.)
Though the overall results—Burnaby, Saskatoon and Surrey, B.C. lead the pack; Charlottetown, Kingston, Ont., and Fredericton trail—will be of particular interest, they are less important than the process this is intended to kick off. We aim not merely to start some good barroom arguments, but to help voters to hold their representatives to better account, and indeed to help city governments themselves. For without some sort of yardstick to measure their performance, either against other cities or against their own past record, how can they hope to know whether they are succeeding?
To compile the survey, Maclean’s commissioned the Halifax-based Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, expanding on the institute’s earlier work measuring the performance of municipalities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Unlike other studies, this does not try to measure quality of life, or which city is the “best place to live.” Rather, it focuses on the contribution of local governments to this end.
This survey looks at a city’s efficiency—the cost of producing results—and the effectiveness of its services, including how well each city does when it comes to things like maintaining roads and parks, picking up garbage and putting out fires. Click below to see how the numbers break down. Continue…