Gilles Vaillancourt, Laval Quebec Mayor: Resignation Not In The Works

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GILLES VAILLANCOURT LAVAL QUEBEC MAYOR
Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt makes a statement to the media at City Hall in Laval, Que., Friday, October 5, 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes | CP

LAVAL, Que. - A powerful Quebec mayor brushed aside a request for his resignation Friday after police raided his home amid the province's ever-widening corruption scandal.

Gilles Vaillancourt, the mayor of Quebec's third-largest municipality, this week became the most prominent politician targeted by raids from the provincial anti-corruption squad.

He was not charged with any crime and said he will not resign.

"What I'm experiencing today is a shock," said the Laval, Que., mayor one day after 70 officers from the province's anti-corruption squad started to sift through his affairs.

"It was totally unforeseen and I can affirm that it is not a very pleasant situation."

Media reports on Friday evening indicated that police raided a second home owned by Vaillancourt, also in Laval.

Vaillancourt said he couldn't even comment on the reason for the raids because he had no idea what police might have been looking for.

He made the remarks as the provincial Association of Suburban Mayors issued a letter demanding that Vaillancourt step aside, at least temporarily.

"Given everything that's going on at the (Quebec corruption inquiry) it's more important than ever for elected officials to regain the public trust," said the group's president, Peter Trent.

It's not the first time Trent has protested the Laval mayor's continued prominence; he has quit his post in the province's main union of municipalities to protest Vaillancourt's role within the organization.

Vaillanourt has governed Laval for 23 years, with little opposition.

But controversy has been swirling around him lately.

A news report last month on illegal campaign financing said an ex-fundraiser for the Parti Quebecois claimed he got $10,000 in cash from Vaillancourt during the 1994 provincial election.

It wasn't the first time Vaillancourt had been forced to deny such activities. He also denied offering money during a provincial election to Liberal Vincent Auclair and former PQ cabinet minister Serge Menard.

A columnist in Montreal La Presse quipped Friday that the mounting accusations made the mayor sound like a "reverse-kleptomaniac" — a man who simply can't resist the urge to give away money.

Vaillancourt delivered only a brief statement to the media Friday.

He said he did so because of his commitment to transparency although, after delivering that statement, he did not take any questions from the media.

The mayor of the Montreal-area community has become the most famous politician targeted by raids from the provincial police anti-corruption unit, created in the wake of scandals in 2009.

He said the police actions don't prove anything.

"This morning we are seeing a flurry of allegations, rumours and demands," Vaillancourt said.

He added, pausing for emphasis after each word: "I. Will. Not. Resign."

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