A municipal councillor from Blainville, has taken part in voting on a major builder in the region, who claims that she owes him tens of thousands of dollars for years.
“She says she can’t. This is his problem to her. It pays us, and it’s all […] it is from 2018 that I try to have agreements [with it]. “
These are the words of Sylvain Mathieu, co-owner of the Group, Mathieu, one of the most important construction companies, residential to the North Shore of Montreal.
His firm, through an affiliated company (The dwellings NB inc.), is the owner of the building that leases the city councillor Marie-Claude Collin, who operates the daycare Aqua Nemo.
The firm owner of the building that hosts the garderie Aqua Nemo, directed by Marie-Claude Collin, says in a lawsuit that the city councillor of Blainville him should the money from 2018.
In early June, the owner has filed a lawsuit in due form for the claim to be the elected 143 753,46 $, including for the payment of rents and of taxes unpaid for the years 2018 to 2020.
This conflict has not prevented Ms. Collin vote twice in the municipal council on resolutions regarding the Group Mathieu, whose approval of plans for the construction of housing, without that it mentions its link with the promoter.
Until our investigation Office questions last week, no one at the City was aware of the conflict between the advisor and the firm.
The appearance of a conflict of interest
The internal Policy of management of conflicts of interest of the city of Blainville clearly states that each elected officer is obligated to manage his personal affairs so as to avoid being in a situation of conflict of interests in the exercise of its functions “.
It is also “forbidden” to an elected official to take part in decisions if he is in a situation of ” conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest “.
According to experts in the ethics of the mid-city, Ms. Collin would have possibly violated this policy (see text below).
Former candidate of the liberal Party of Quebec in the 2014 elections, Marie-Claude Collin is far from being a neophyte of the policy. It acts as a councillor for the past fifteen years.
The one who also chairs the Coalition of private day care centers non-subsidized Quebec has found itself in trouble twice during his political career.
In the lurch twice
In 2013, the Office of the complaints commissioner of the department of municipal Affairs had responded to a complaint concerning an alleged conflict of interest concerning them.
The commissioner Marc-André Thivierge was concluded by issuing “doubts” about two situations where Ms. Collin would have had to declare his interest when the City voted on the establishment of its child care facilities on its territory in 2010.
She also received a statement of offence the Director general of elections in 2014 to have exceeded $ 150 the maximum allowable limit of $ 1000 donation to a political party. Ms. Collin has been ordered to pay a fine of $500.
Through his lawyer, councillor Collin refused our interview request.
The mayor of Blainville is Richard Perreault, has, him, limited to comment on the situation by writing, stating that according to an initial analysis of legal services in the City, Ms. Collin would not be placed in a situation of conflict of interest.
The City asks for an opinion
Blainville, however, has decided to push further its analysis of the record.
“We learned last week that Ms. Collin is in dispute with the Group, Mathieu (…). As we do not have any information on this case and that we always take seriously all issues related to the ethics of elected officials or employees, we have requested a legal opinion from outside counsel to make light of it, ” said the mayor Perreault.
The two votes which were attended by the advisor
Last January, Marie-Claude Collin has voted on two resolutions regarding the Group Mathieu without declaring his conflict with the company, according to the minutes of the meeting of the city council.
- Resolution 2020-01-013 on a site planning and architectural integration PROGRAMS (spaip) for the proposed Station 56. It is a project of urban condos in the Group, Mathieu Blainville. The PIIA is to oversee the appearance of a project and is a step prior to the issuance of a building permit.
- Resolution 2020-01-038 yet on a compensation that will be required to pay The Associated North to the City of Blainville, in connection with land located in a conservation area. The Associated North is the company that manages the businesses of the two co-owners of the Group Mathieu.
– With the collaboration of Diane Best, and Marie-Christine Trottier
A situation that is akin to a conflict of interest
The situation which includes the city councillor of Blainville, Marie-Claude Collin has “all the ingredients” of an apparent conflict of interest, believe the two experts consulted by our Office of investigation.
Ms. Collin would have had to report his situation to the City of Blainville from the beginning of his conflict with the Group, Mathieu, and not then participate in any decision concerning them, believes Danielle Pilette, a professor at UQAM and is an expert in municipal management.
“Even if the lawsuit had not yet been served, it remains that she knew she had the money [to the Group Mathieu]. He had claimed this money. She knew that one day or the other, sooner rather than later, it would turn into a use of [legal] if she did not pay, ” said the latter.
Contribute by his vote
“It is not necessary that it gives the appearance of contributing by his vote to do favours to a group simply because she owes them money. [The principle of] the appearance of fairness in participation in the decisions, ” continues Ms. Pilette.
According to the professor at the national School of public administration, Étienne Charbonneau, the counselor appears to violate the internal policy of the City.
“The site planning and architectural integration and the issues of zoning, it is so sensitive in a municipality. The developments [in real estate], it is a big source of income. […] There is always a possibility of being in a conflict of interest for elected officials and in this case, it doesn’t look good, ” he said.
“It doesn’t look good “
The amount of the debt alleged is not trivial, also points to Mr. Charbonneau.
“If the advisor has a mortgage with a bank, it is another thing as a debt. We don’t care. But, if she has a debt with a promoter, this is not healthy for it to take decisions on this promoter-there “.
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