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Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre faces corruption clean-up

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Mayor Denis Coderre appears to be playing a handful of cards to bolster Montreal’s image in one of North America’s most corrupt cities. In a recent poll, about seven out of 10 Montreal residents said they agree with the statement, “I think there is a lot of corruption among my local politicians. Almost six out of 10 said the quality of the city’s local infrastructure is unacceptable.”

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Earlier this year, Mayor Coderre told New York City business leaders he is looking to their city for inspiration as he fights the corruption that brought down his two predecessors. In a speech to the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Coderre touted the recent creation of the Inspector General's office, with wide powers to investigate and suspend municipal contracts if anything suspicious is afoot.

An inquiry in Quebec has uncovered links between the construction industry, organized crime, and elected officials. Coderre was elected in November after his two predecessors were forced out within months of each other over the scandals.

Former Montreal Mayor, Michael Applebaum, was arrested, slammed with 14 criminal charges, received more than a quarter-million dollars in severance pay. Applebaum’s mayoral journey ended with an emotional resignation, after police arrested him on corruption charges in a kickbacks-for-land investigation in his borough. He also faced charges including fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust, and corruption in municipal affairs.

One comment stated, “Montreal has lost its shine ... since in the late 70s ... distinctly falling apart completely ... erosion of infrastructure, no jobs, no money, pathetic public transit, and endless slew of trivial festivals trying to attract visitors, plenty of discrimination (by sepa-racists) ... but plenty of corruption ... at every level of government.... Avoid at all cost...”

Mayor Denis Coderre thinks he can bring back Montreal’s shine, stating, “Montreal is back for business - corruption "is the elephant in the room" when trying to encourage investment in Montreal.”

While Coderre is running around trying to put out fires where lingering corruption has tarnished Montreal’s reputation, the Cities’ Firefighters want no part of him. “Union officials say it's not appropriate for Coderre to use fires as photo-ops yet treat firefighters poorly."

“This week, union president Ronald Martin published an open letter condemning Coderre for his support of proposed provincial legislation that would see municipal workers and cities evenly split the cost of the $4-billion municipal pension plan deficit.

Ronald said Coderre is no longer welcome at the scene of fires around the city, which the mayor has at times attended in ceremonial firefighter's gear. Martin asked Coderre to return the uniform, saying he is no longer fit to wear it.”

Indeed, an ambitious mayor, Denis Coderre is now working more photo OPs and if he has his way, soccer’s World Cup tournament will come to Montreal in 2026. “Montreal would be an amazing capital of the World Cup,” Coderre said.

With Montreal infrastructure crumbling to the ground, Mayor Coderre spoke in Ottawa on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, asking for more money, and with the Ville Marie Expressway closed yesterday following an investigation by engineers with Transport Quebec showed serious cracks in a concrete panel.

Many concur that Government corruption, collapsing bridges and overpasses should be a priority for the Mayor, and not focusing on bringing in a soccer World Cup tournament that could well turn into another ‘white elephant’ like the 1976 Olympic Stadium where the Quebec government introduced a special tobacco tax in May 1976 to help recoup its investment.

The Montréal–Mirabel International Airport ‘white elephant’ was another disaster of wasting massive sums of tax-payer money. It was the largest airport in the world in terms of surface area ever envisioned, with a planned area of 39,660 hectares. Now, On May 1st, 2014, Aéroports de Montréal has confirmed that the current terminal building will be demolished, citing its maintenance cost, its facilities being unfit for current commercial aviation needs, and lack of economic viability as a reason.

When asked, many Montreal citizens are more concerned that Mayor Denis Coderre not be ‘gung-ho’ on more expansion and bringing in games, rather target safety issues and government corruption. “Repair the overpasses that are falling on cars and people – replace or repair the highways and side-roads – safety first before glitter, tinsel, and puffed-up egos.”

David Love

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