Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt quits after 23-year run

Posted By: Canadian Press · 11/9/2012 2:11:00 PM

A mayor's 23-year reign running the city next to Montreal has drawn to a close.

Embroiled in a provincewide corruption scandal, the mayor of Laval, has announced his resignation.

Gilles Vaillancourt, who since 1989 has run the suburb with little competition, says he doesn't deserve to have his reputation tarnished but he says the damage is already done.

Vaillancourt, 72, has been on sick leave since Oct. 24.

Meanwhile, Quebec's anti-corruption unit has closed in on Laval in recent weeks, raiding numerous engineering firms and businesses in addition to Vaillancourt's own home, condo, officesb and his bank safety-deposit boxes.

Vaillancourt's name has also been mentioned in ongoing testimony before Quebec's Charbonneau inquiry into corruption.

Former construction boss Lino Zambito testified that Vaillancourt received a kickback on contracts handed out in Laval.

Vaillancourt has denied the allegations. He has also denied past allegations that he offered bribes to people involved in provincial politics.

In a roughly nine minute speech and taking no questions from reporters, Vaillancourt spoke without emotion, not even sadness or anger, as he bid his farewell from the council chambers where he has dominated for the past 23 years.

"As a society, we are living through difficult even painful times with elected officials at every level being accused of all manner of wrong doing," Vaillancourt said.

"We are hearing all kinds of things. We're facing allegations that even without proof are irremediably altering the reputations of those and whom you have placed your trust. I am one of these people and I have been deeply hurt. So has my family. And regardless of what I do or say, the damage has been done."

That doesn't impress the Mouvement Lavallois, one of the non-sitting opposition parties. 

"The face of the parti PRO is gone but the ambiance of it has stayed the same. We're still dealing with a lot of silence, no one's really answering any questions," mayoral candidate Lydia Aboulian told reporters.

Laval police had a police car stationed outside Vaillancourt's home early today.

A police spokesman said it was purely to maintain order after a reporter had gone onto the property the previous day in an effort to speak to the mayor.

Const. Frank Di Genova said it wasn't Vaillancourt that made the request.

As for what comes next, the executive committee meets next Wednesday to discuss their game plan, including an interim mayor.

With files from Shuyee Lee/CJAD News

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