05/30/2013 21:01 EDT | Updated 07/30/2013 05:12 EDT

Laval's current mayor not innocent, inquiry told

Laval's current mayor, along with many others at Laval city hall, knowingly accepted illegal payments to cover campaign contributions, the Charbonneau commission was told Thursday.

Jean Bertrand, the former official agent for the PRO des Lavallois party, told the corruption inquiry that officials willingly participated in unlawful financing schemes in the late 1990s and early 2000s. PRO des Lavallois is the party of the current mayor, as well as former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.

Bertrand was among the 37 people arrested by UPAC, Quebec's anti-corruption unit, earlier this month.

He told the commission Thursday that every member of Laval's executive committee, and almost every elected official in the mayor's party, took cash that came from colluding engineering companies during that period, including Vaillancourt's successor, Alexandre Duplessis.

Bertrand says many party candidates and their relatives didn't make donations to the party out of their own pockets. Instead, Bertrand, who's trained as a lawyer, would front them several thousand dollars cash, and ask them to bring him cheques for the same amount.

He says he would make it clear that what was happening was illegal, but that didn't deter many donors, and he says he was never asked where the money came from.

Bertrand says he always hoped the politicians would refuse the cash, but virtually none of them ever did, and he says Duplessis was among those who accepted the money.

The commission is now on break for 10 days.

Province should step in: opposition

Members of Laval's unelected opposition party spoke out Thursday following Bertrand's revelations.

Movement Lavallois called for the Quebec government to put the city's administration under trusteeship.

Laval city hall refused to comment Thursday, only releasing a statement saying it was aware of Bertrand's allegations, and that the administration has been cooperating with the commission's investigation from the beginning.