Quebec’s anti-corruption squad is investigating allegations against a member of the Lachine borough’s urban-planning committee for possible links to various real-estate developers, opposition borough councillor Jean-François Cloutier says.
Cloutier, who is making the allegations, says he can’t identify the member because the person sent him a lawyer’s demand letter threatening to sue if he names him.
However, the person’s identity was narrowed down in a series of retorts during the public question period ofLachine’s borough council meeting on Monday. Borough mayor Claude Dauphin said the person is one of the two elected borough officials who sit on the urban-planning committee.
A citizen then asked the borough council to name the two elected officials who sit on the committee along with representatives of the public.
Dauphin responded by naming himself and councillor Bernard Blanchet.
“It’s not me,” Dauphin added.
When contacted by The Gazette, Blanchet, who is leader of the Union Montreal party caucus, said on Thursday that he was tied up in a meeting of a city council committee over which he presides until the evening, and would comment on Friday.
Cloutier told The Gazette he met investigators from the province’s Unité permanent anti-corruption about his allegations in August, and they opened an investigation about a month ago.
“We talked about certain files in Lachine,” he said.
The squad won’t confirm or deny what cases it investigates.
A dust-up began in late October when the local weekly, Le Messager Lachine & Dorval, published Cloutier’s letter of resignation from the urban-planning committee. In it, he accused an unidentified member of the panel of cultivating “close ties” with developers and business people, including lobbying for and working for developers who have projects that have gone before the panel.
The member did not abstain from committee deliberations or from voting on matters involving the developers, the letter adds.
The committee meets in private to deliberate and make recommendations to the borough council on projects that require zoning changes, minor variances and other authorizations from the borough.
Cloutier is an independent borough-level councillor after quitting Union Montreal in 2010.
His letter said he chose to resign from the urban-planning committee after the other member refused his demand to quit the panel.
Dauphin, meanwhile, told Le Messager last week that he hoped the person would identify himself at Monday’s borough council meeting, because he found the situation “unhealthy.”
Union Montreal’s interim general director, Louise Fournier, said she won’t comment because the matter relates to the internal workings of the borough.