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Canada Laval mayor says he won’t step down after Quebec police raid home

Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt arrives to make a statement to the media at City Hall in Laval, Que., Friday, October 5, 2012.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The longtime mayor of Quebec's third-biggest city whose home was raided in by an anti-corruption squad says he is staying on the job.

Gilles Vaillancourt, mayor of Laval for 23 years, gave a brief statement during the noon hour Friday where he proclaimed his innocence and promised to keep fighting.

About 70 investigators from Quebec's anti-corruption squad raided Laval's city hall and the mayor's house into the wee hours Friday morning as Quebec's corruption scandal continued to spread from Montreal city hall to outlying suburbs and cities.

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"I must confess what I'm facing today has come as a total shock. It was totally unexpected. And I can affirm to you that this is not a very pleasing situation. But I've decided to address you and the population today out of my concern for transparency and my sense of duty," said Mr. Vaillancourt, refusing to answer any questions.

"What we're seeing here is a wave of rumour and innuendo … I will offer police my complete co-operation but I won't comment on the objectives of their investigation. I will not comment on rumour and other commentary."

Laval, which has grown from a sleepy agricultural island with a dozen small towns to Quebec's fastest growing city and the 13 th most populous in Canada, has long been rumoured to be a hotbed of shady real estate deals. Mr. Vaillancourt has held the position of mayor uninterrupted and nearly unopposed since 1989.

Opposition leaders in Laval, who have not managed to win a seat in city council in years, have long written letters to the province complaining about fishy contracts and a general lack of transparency.

"I'm extremely happy. It's been seven years we've complained about the way contracts have been handed out," said Robert Bordeleau, one of the unelected critics.

Mr. Bordeleau recently complained about a piece of land valued at $1.2-million which the city bought from "the extended family of a council member" for $5.6-million. "They're going to find all kinds delicious nuggets," he said.

Quebec's inquiry into corruption in construction contracting has heard many of the province's regions and cities have been closed markets where a handful of construction bosses divvy up work at inflated prices while kicking back cash to political organizers, municipal officials and often the mob.

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Montreal and Laval were cited from the inquiry's opening this fall as the two most egregious examples of corruption. So far, the inquiry has mainly concentrated on Montreal.

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