CHARBONNEAU

Laval mayor considers resignation amid probe

MONTREAL — The Globe and Mail

FILE PHOTO: Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt makes a statement to the media at City Hall in Laval, Que., Friday, October 5, 2012. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The beleaguered mayor of Laval is weighing his future and isn’t expected to remain in office for long, raising the spectre of two of Quebec’s biggest cities without elected mayors in the midst of an ongoing corruption probe.

Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who has been on medical leave since Oct. 24, will announce his plans shortly, his spokeswoman said. “The situation can’t go on forever,” Johanne Bournival said. “He obviously can’t remain in a situation like this for a long time.” The mayor has a “lot on his shoulders,” she said.

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Mr. Vaillancourt has been under intensifying pressure since Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay stepped down on Monday amid disclosures of corruption in his administration. Radio-Canada reported that Mr. Vaillancourt will announce his resignation on Friday, making him the second big-city mayor to leave under a cloud in under a week.

His departure would throw the Montreal metropolitan region into political turmoil, with two well-known mayors representing more than two million people forced from office. Laval, the third largest city in Quebec, is Montreal’s neighbour to the north.

For weeks, officers from Quebec’s anti-corruption squad known as UPAC have been descending on the sprawling suburb as part of their ongoing probe into the awarding of public contracts. The raids, which began early last month, have targeted city hall, as well as the mayor’s two homes and his bank safety-deposit boxes. Police have also gone to construction firms.

In Montreal, the governing Union Montreal party has tapped city councillor Richard Deschamps, a member of Mr. Tremblay's inner circle, as its choice for interim mayor until next year's city election. The choice will be submitted to city council for a vote by secret ballot on Nov. 16.

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