Martin C. Barry
The Laval News has learned that one of the people recently appointed by Mayor Marc Demers to the city’s new Place-du-Souvenir Fund committee was herself at one time a political attaché for former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.
The Place-du-Souvenir Fund committee will be overseeing a $10 million settlement the City of Laval received from the disgraced ex-mayor who is now serving a prison sentence after being convicted of official corruption.
Vaillancourt’s pick for JP
In an October 1996 article in La Presse, the Montreal daily recounted Vaillancourt’s efforts to have Lynda Tousignant – one of those named on June 19 by Demers to the Place-du-Souvenir committee – appointed a Justice of the Peace in Laval’s municipal court system.
In a handout furnished last week by the City of Laval, Tousignant is identified as a member of the Barreau du Québec (Quebec Bar Association) since 1983 and an ex-employee of Laval’s legal affairs department, serving from 1998 to 2011.
Ran for ex-mayor’s Parti PRO
However, the city’s summary of Tousignant’s background doesn’t mention that she was also a candidate for the Parti Québécois in the Laval riding of Vimont for the 2012 election. Demers, who would be elected mayor of Laval in 2013, was also a PQ candidate in 2012 in the nearby Laval-des-Rapides riding.
In addition, the La Presse report noted that Tousignant was a candidate for former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt’s now defunct and discredited Parti PRO des Lavallois in the 1989 municipal election. Following her defeat (the paper said she was the only Parti PRO candidate that year who failed to be elected), she was hired by Vaillancourt as an attaché.
JP appointments rejected
According to La Presse, Tousignant took an unpaid leave in 1995 from her job as Vaillancourt’s assistant. The following year, the paper said, she was one of four City of Laval administration employees that Vaillancourt recommended to Quebec for appointment as Justices of the Peace to deal with a backlog of legal files in Laval’s municipal court system.
While, according to La Presse, Vaillancourt and the city argued that the appointments wouldn’t cost Laval more because the employees would be paid their existing salaries, the Quebec Ministry of Justice ruled they didn’t have the right kind of qualifications for Justices of the Peace, and Quebec refused to make the appointments, La Presse stated.
Reached by the Laval News at her home in Duvernay, Tousignant acknowledged she was an employee from 1990 to 1995 in Vaillancourt’s office as counsellor for legal and administrative affairs. As well, she said her tenure with the city’s legal affairs department was from 1996 to 2011.
Tousignant also acknowledged that the ran for the Parti PRO des Lavallois in 1989 in the district of Saint-Sylvain which no longer exists. Asked to explain why neither she nor the current City of Laval administration bothered to mention her past involvement with the Vaillancourt administration – especially when she’s now a trustee for a fund consisting of money that came from the former mayor’s corruption – Tousignant responded:
Didn’t see the relevance
“You can perhaps understand that I had left the mayor of Laval’s office so long ago that I really didn’t see the relevance. I realize it must seem ironic that I find myself here. Mr. Demers knows very well that I used to work in Mr. Vaillancourt’s office. I take this as a sign of the confidence he has in me and in my integrity.
“As for what happened to Mr. Vaillancourt, Mr. Vaillancourt was found guilty and he surrendered sums of money,” she continued. “Now what do we do with those sums? Mr. Demers and city council decided to place them in a fund dedicated to children and that is what attracted me – being able to help the children of Laval.”