11/28/2013 06:10 EST | Updated 01/28/2014 05:59 EST

Coderre demands Tourisme Montréal’s top brass step down

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has demanded that two top executives from Tourisme Montréal step down from their jobs immediately, just one day after Quebec’s auditor general revealed lavish expenses were claimed.

“This has nothing to do with the performance of Tourisme Montréal. There is a necessity for Tourisme Montréal but it’s all about: how do you manage public money?” Coderre said about the group that is mandated to promote tourism for the city.

Quebec’s auditor general reported Wednesday that Charles Lapointe — until his recent retirement, the head of Tourisme Montréal for more than 20 years — was getting an annual salary of $398,300.

Lapointe, who is currently the chair of Montreal’s Council of the Arts, got a severance package of $654,000 when he left Tourisme Montréal earlier this year.

He was also receiving an annual allowance of more than $10,000 for a car — even though Tourisme Montréal already provided him with a driver and a vehicle.

Lapointe was also reimbursed $40,000 for dinner expenses over a two-year period and $2,500 for receipts from the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) without proper justification.

The auditor general also found that Lapointe’s hotel accommodations on most of his trips abroad exceeded his expense limit by more than double.

Coderre said he met with Lapointe Thursday afternoon and asked him to resign immediately from his position with the Council of the Arts.

Coderre also demanded that Jacques Parisien step down from his position as the chairman of Tourisme Montréal’s board of directors.

Parisien is also in charge of Montreal’s 375th anniversary.

“It’s taxpayer money. It’s not only the person who has the expense account who takes on the responsibility. The administration council has the responsibility to ask questions,” Coderre said, adding that he will launch an inquiry to look into how money is managed at the organization.

Lapointe and Parisien are both set to appear before a parliamentary commission to explain spending irregularities.

Coderre says he spoke with Quebec’s minister of tourism, Pascal Bérubé, who will meet with members of Tourisme Montréal Friday morning.