The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing says she is outraged that the former mayor of Terrebonne and his former chief of staff have passed the City over half a million $ in legal bills while they are criminally accused.
• Read also: Corruption lawsuit: the former mayor of Terrebonne wants to pass more than half a million $ in legal fees to the City
“The government is studying a bill to protect elected municipal officials while ensuring that citizens will not have to foot the bill,” Minister Andrée Laforest replied, by email to the QMI Agency, a little earlier this week.
The latter explained that, within the framework of Bill 49, the government is currently working on a mechanism to duly protect elected municipal officials, as well as the citizens who end up footing the bill. The minister did not want to give details in the case of the criminal prosecution of an elected official or a municipal leader.
“If an elected official is found guilty of a criminal act, the municipality should not have to reimburse the defense costs. This is provided for in the law. That being said, I am outraged by the increasing number of cases where elected municipal officials are protected for acts they have taken knowing full well that they should not have acted in this way, ”added Ms. Laforest.
The City of Terrebonne was given two invoices from lawyers totaling $ 579,000 in legal fees incurred to date by the former mayor of Terrebonne, Jean-Marc Robitaille, and his chief of staff, Daniel Bélec, in connection with criminal prosecutions on charges of corruption, abuse of power and collusion. The bill may still climb since the former director general of the City, Luc Papillon, could also pass his legal fees on to Terrebonne.
The current mayor of Terrebonne, Marc-André Plante, refuses to pay the legal fees of the former leaders since they are criminally accused. “Even if they were found not guilty, it shouldn’t be our citizens to pay,” he said.
Mr. Plante recalled that the investigation was carried out by the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC) and that the charges were filed by the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions and not by the City of Terrebonne.
Jean-Marc Robitaille, Daniel Bélec and Luc Papillon, as well as the entrepreneurs Normand Trudel and Jean Leroux – who died in April 2018 -, were arrested on March 15, 2018 after six years of investigation by the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC). Legal proceedings have been ongoing since October 2019.