Former Laval executive-committee v.p. cleared of wrongdoing after 30 months
Thirty months after an investigation into some real estate dealings involving Laval city councillor for St-Bruno David De Cotis was opened by UPAC, the former Laval executive-committee vice-president says he has no doubt the complaint behind the inquiry was motivated by a vengeful supporter of the Mouvement lavallois out to get him after he bolted dramatically from the party only months earlier.
Sees a link
In June 2018, the Mouvement lavallois was rocked by its first crisis since first being elected in 2013, when De Cotis was one of a group of 10 sitting ML councillors who decided to leave the caucus and sit with the opposition. Some eventually returned to the ML fold, while others remained in the opposition area.
The complaint, De Cotis said in an interview earlier this week with the Laval News, was filed in September 2018. Two weeks ago, UPAC, after completing a thorough investigation, informed De Cotis that he had been cleared of all suspicion.
Made it public
Besides the complaint to UPAC, a separate complaint, also concerning De Cotis’s real estate dealing, was filed in 2019 with the Commission municipal du Québec (CMQ), another provincial agency with oversight on ethical issues involving municipal elected officials. In the end, both were were tossed out.
According to De Cotis, news of the complaint was made public by a rival political insider who acted deliberately and with spiteful intent. “The complaint was made public purposefully, politically motivated,” he said. “The person who made the complaint to UPAC made sure that the complaint became public.”
He said he saw a direct link with the political events at Laval city hall in the summer of 2018, when “there was a little break between David De Cotis and the mayor of Laval and the Mouvement lavallois.” De Cotis said he voluntarily submitted to four hours of interrogations by UPAC on two occasions (February and March of 2020), even though he was advised by his lawyer not to go.
De Cotis insisted that he doesn’t blame UPAC for anything, and takes issue only with the anonymous person who was the source of the complaint.
‘I have always trusted the system that was in place. I know that I did nothing wrong,’ says De Cotis
“I have always trusted the system that was in place. I know that I did nothing wrong. I think the UPAC interviewers behaved like gentlemen. They had received a complaint and they did their due diligence. They were very professional and were only out to find out if there was any truth behind the complaint.
Issue with complainer
“The real issue was that the person who had submitted the complaint was on a political vendetta, and they exposed this complaint to the media and that’s what caused the injustice,” he continued. “The person who went to UPAC went out of their way to inform the media, and that hurts. And it can hurt anyone who is honest and who wants to go into politics, because you have to be subjected to this kind of harassment.”
Despite the shortcomings, De Cotis said he doesn’t want to focus his energy on that. “I want to continue being the best city councillor and keep serving the citizens of St-Bruno who have elected me to represent them at city council.”
Some De Cotis motions
He noted some of the proposed resolutions and by-laws he tabled in Laval council in recent years, including a January 2020 proposal to include Laval in the City of Montreal’s tentative plans to build a “pink” line in the subterranean Metro public transit system.
Or his October 2020 proposal asking the administration to freeze taxes in the 2021 budget. Or his September 2020 request that Laval city council create annual pre-budget public consultations. Some of his other council proposals: Implementing free public transit in Laval for persons less than 12 old; implementing a pilot project to recycle polystyrene; abolishing municipal taxes for community organizations; deferring the date of payment for municipal taxes in 2021; and a moratorium on penalties and interest on 2021 tax accounts.