Four Quebec Politicians Resign in One Week… The Fall of Patriarchy?

The world of politics is clearly evolving, with the U.S. elections gathering 19 women in the senate, the largest in their history, while Colorado and Washington have become the first states to legalize marijuana.

In Quebec there is a similar influence, with Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois elected the first woman premier and Léo Bureau-Blouin the youngest MNA- we take a look at the week that shook La Belle Province, as 2012 continues to be a major year.

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay – November 5th

"Tonight I am here to inform you that after 25 years of service to this community I am leaving public life," declared Gérald Tremblay on Monday at a press conference when announcing he is leaving politics, due to allegations involving illegal party financing.

Whether this is in cause of corruption scandals or Mayan prediction, within one week Quebec has seen longtime leaders step down from their positions.

A lawyer by training and former Liberal MNA in Outremont, Tremblay was elected as mayor of Montreal on November 4th 2001. He is also known for starting the Dans un Jardin boutique franchise with his wife.

After four years he was re-elected with a successful majority, however it was only years later when scandals would begin surfacing. According to the CBC, “In 2007, the city of Montreal handed a $355 million contract — the largest contract in its history — to Génieau, a consortium that included the construction firm Simard-Beaudry, owned at the time by entrepreneur Tony Accurso.”

Despite all this, Tremblay received a third term by 2009. His projects to revitalize the city included the Bixi bikes and developing the downtown core into Le Quartier des Spectacles.

By October 30th of this year, more scandals had broken out when former Union Montréal worker Martin Dumont announced at the Charbonneau Commission, that Mayor Gérald Tremblay was aware that his party received illegal financing, but reportedly turned a blind eye.

"He wanted to be seen as the mayor who — after decades of neglect — would fix Montreal," said Linda Gyulai, a Montreal Gazette reporter who revealed the water meter scandal. ""When he said 'I didn't know,' some people were stupefied...but they believed him,"

"I think that's changed now."

Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt – November 9th

Gilles Vaillancourt was elected as mayor of the Parti du Ralliement Officiel (PRO de Laval) in 1989, serving for over two decades.
Beginning in politics in his early thirties, one of his major city projects was in 2007, when his administration extended the Orange Line of the Montreal Metro to Laval.

His final mandate would be in 2009, when he was running against Mouvement lavallois party candidate Lydia Aboulian. Vaillancourt was re-elected with a successful majority of 61.3%.

In early October 2012, the 'Unité permanente anticorruption’ (UPAC) searched Vailancourt’s home for evidence of corruption, also regarding the Charbonneau Commission.

The Montreal Gazette stated that opposition parties “often accused Vaillancourt of silencing opposition through intimidation and lawsuits.”

City Counselor Union Montréal Michael Applebaum – November 9

Remaining borough mayor for the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce region since 2001, Applebaum made a bold move by resigning his position as city counselor due to disagreement with his political party.
The city and former Mayor Tremblay's presented its budget which includes a proposed 3.3% increase in property tax. Applebaum sought to make the property tax increase at 1.1%.

Applebaum also made a clear note on the corruption scandal, in which he announced reports on a document that states Montreal had been paying 30-40% more on construction contracts than necessary.

Many speculate another reason regarding his resignation involves him not being chosen as interim mayor to take Tremblay’s position.

Within the past year, several others have also given their place involving similar scandal:

-         -On May 14th, PLQ education minister Line Beauchamp resigned claiming she felt she was not a part of a possible solution to the issue of the tuition increase imposed by the Charest government. There were also allegations of her possible involvement in the corruption scandal.

Michelle Courchesne alongside Line Beauchamp

She was soon succeeded by Michelle Courchesne, who declared during the election campaign she would not renew her mandate.

-     -Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec since 2003, was defeated in the September 2012 elections after representing his Sherbrooke riding since 1984. If this were a novel by George Orwell, the year could be seen as a foreshadowing to the scandals which would develop during his era as leader.
From scandals such as Anticosti, Plan Nord and the most recent case of being aware universities are not underfunded; this might as well have been long awaited.

Allowing us to take a breath from corruption and onto a politician with a different perspective; another prominent figure who resigned on Monday is Québec Solidaire co-speaker and MNA Amir Khadir, who assumed office in 2008. Other than politics, he is also an activist for Quebec sovereignty, feminism, and has been an active participant in the student movement of this year.
Khadir declares himself stepping down as a way of passing on his position to that of Québec Solidaire MNA Françoise David.

And there it is- the domino effect that has taken over in provincial politics this week, as corruption scandals continue to arise. One wonders whether other politicians will follow, or whether similar cases will be seen in other provinces, such as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s resignation in mid-October. Just what will we learn next on the road to Quebec’s societal reform? Stay tuned…

As Bob Dylan sang, something that couldn’t be applied to a better time, “the times they are a-changin’”.

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