Laurent Blanchard

Laurent Blanchard (born November 25, 1952) is a politician in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He represented the east-end Hochelaga ward on Montreal city council from 2005 to 2013, initially as a member of Vision Montreal and later as an independent. On June 25, 2013, he was elected by council as interim Mayor of Montreal,[2] a position he served in until the election of Denis Coderre on November 3, 2013.

Laurent Blanchard
43rd Mayor of Montreal
In office
June 25, 2013 – November 14, 2013
Preceded byJane Cowell-Poitras
Succeeded byDenis Coderre
Member of the Montreal Executive Committee responsible for finances, human resources, and legal affairs
In office
June 28, 2013 – November 14, 2013
Preceded byMichael Applebaum
Succeeded byPierre Desrochers
Chair of the Montreal Executive Committee
In office
November 22, 2012 – June 25, 2013
Preceded byMichael Applebaum
Succeeded byJosée Duplessis
Member of the Montreal Executive Committee responsible for infrastructure, buildings, real estate transactions, information technology, and corporate communications
In office
November 22, 2012 – June 25, 2013
Preceded byRichard Deschamps (infrastructure), Michael Applebaum (corporate communications)[1]
Succeeded byRichard Deschamps (infrastructure), Benoit Dorais (buildings and real estate transactions), Caroline Bourgeois (information technology and corporate communications)
Montreal City Councillor for Hochelaga
In office
2005 – June 25, 2013
Preceded byLuc Larivée
Succeeded byÉric Alan Caldwell
Personal details
Born (1952-11-25) November 25, 1952 (age 67)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyCoalition Montréal (2013)
Other political
affiliations
Independent (2012-2013)
Vision Montréal (2005-2012)

Early life and careerEdit

Blanchard was born in Montreal's Mercier district and worked in the publishing sector before entering political life. He was for many years the owner and publisher of Les Nouvelles de l'Est and also became assistant to the president of Hebdos Télémédia in the late 1980s. Blanchard was a political attaché in mayor Jean Doré's administration from 1991 to 1994, working in internal affairs, and was director-general of the Corporation de développement de l’Est (CDEST) from 1995 to 2002.[3]

City councillorEdit

Blanchard was first elected to city council in the 2005 municipal election, defeating incumbent councillor Luc Larivée from mayor Gérald Tremblay's Montreal Island Citizens Union (MICU). Tremblay's party won a majority on council, and Blanchard served as a member of the official opposition.

In 2006, Blanchard urged the Montreal Executive Committee to rescind a policy it had approved in camera the previous month, restricting Montreal civil servants from disclosing information deemed to be "confidential," "reserved," "for internal use" or "personal." Blanchard noted that this policy had never been presented to the full council.[4] In the same period, he joined with fellow councillor Gaëtan Primeau in a "bathrobe protest," showing up to a 6 am budget meeting dressed in his bathrobe and arguing that the meeting had been scheduled too early for public participation.[5]

Blanchard was re-elected in the 2009 municipal election. Tremblay's party, now renamed as Union Montreal, again won a majority on council, and Blanchard continued to serve as an opposition member.

In April 2011, following rising concerns about corruption in the awarding of municipal contracts, Tremblay appointed Blanchard to head a committee that would review contracts considered to "deviate from norms."[6] Blanchard acknowledged in September 2012 that there were several restrictions on the types of contracts his committee could review, that it ultimately reviewed only five to ten percent of city council and island council contracts, and that it was almost never able to review borough-level contracts.[7]

Tremblay resigned as mayor in November 2012 amid the backdrop of a growing corruption scandal, and Michael Applebaum was chosen by council as his successor. On November 22, 2012, Applebaum named Blanchard to chair the city's executive committee (i.e., the municipal cabinet) on November 22, 2012. The new mayor had previously announced that the committee chair would be non-partisan, and so, as a condition of his appointment, Blanchard resigned from Vision Montreal to serve as an independent member.[8] He also held executive responsibilities for infrastructure, buildings, real estate transactions, information technology, and corporate communications.[9]

In April 2013, Applebaum and Blanchard announced that the company Dessau would be banned from bidding on public contracts for five years, after a former senior vice-president testified before the Charbonneau Commission on municipal corruption that the company had taken part in collusion and price inflation.[10]

MayorEdit

Michael Applebaum resigned as mayor on June 18, 2013, after being charged with fourteen criminal offenses including fraud and corruption; he maintains that he is innocent. Blanchard was selected as the new interim mayor of the city on June 25, 2013.[2] He obtained 30 of 61 votes from the city council, against 28 votes for Harout Chitilian and three votes for acting mayor Jane Cowell-Poitras. Two additional candidates, François Croteau and Alan DeSousa, withdrew their names in advance of voting.[2] Following the vote, Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron commented, "With Laurent Blanchard, we have the assurance that we will have no unpleasant surprises to be afraid of. Laurent Blanchard is above all suspicion. I think Montrealers have seen enough for now."[11]

Blanchard has said that the central theme of his interim mayoralty will be, "The city continues to function."[11] He announced his new executive committee on June 28, 2013, making only minor changes from the previous committee's membership.[12] In addition to serving as mayor, Blanchard has executive responsibility for finances, human resources, and legal affairs.[13] He is not seeking re-election as mayor in the 2013 municipal election.

In August 2013, Blanchard reluctantly announced that municipal contracts for infrastructure renewal would go to SNC-Lavalin and BPR, firms that had previously been cited at the Charbonneau Commission for alleged bid-rigging. In explaining this decision, he noted that the relevant call for tenders had been issued in late 2012, a few weeks before the city adopted more stringent contracting rules; he further argued that issuing a new call would result in delays and unsafe road conditions. "It wasn't an easy decision, but, legally, we had no choice," Blanchard said. "We understand that Montrealers will ask 'why?'"[14]

Blanchard automatically served as a member of the Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough council during his term as city councillor for Hochelaga. After becoming mayor of Montreal, he automatically became mayor of the Ville-Marie borough council.

His legacy as interim mayor of Montreal was approving "a piece of art in Montreal North [which caused] some debate over its $1.1 million price tag." [15][16]

Executive committee membershipEdit

Name Party Position[17]
Laurent Blanchard Independent Mayor of Montreal
Finances, human resources, legal affairs
Josée Duplessis Projet Montréal Chair of the executive committee
Sustainable development, environment, parks and green spaces
Benoit Dorais Vision Montreal Vice-chair of the executive committee
Major projects, housing and social housing, buildings, real estate transactions
Émilie Thuillier Projet Montréal Vice-chair of the executive committee
Social and community development, family, seniors, youth, women
Richard Deschamps Independent Sports and leisure, infrastructure, supply
Mary Deros Independent Cultural communities
Michel Bissonnet Independent Government and international relations, 375th anniversary celebrations, Space for Life
Réal Ménard Vision Montreal Transportation, fleet vehicles
Élaine Ayotte Independent Culture, heritage and design
Caroline Bourgeois Vision Montreal Information technology, corporate communications, municipal records
Alain Tassé Independent Economic and urban development, water
Christian Dubois Independent Public security, citizen services

Source: Executive Committee, City of Montreal, accessed 11 July 2013.

Electoral recordEdit

2013 Montreal municipal election: Councillor, Hochelaga
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Projet Montréal Éric Alan Caldwell 3,408 35.18 +5.61
Coalition Montréal Laurent Blanchard (incumbent mayor) 2,739 28.28 −29.08
Vrai changement Mikael St-Pierre 2,013 20.78  
Équipe Denis Coderre Patrick Charbonneau 1,244 12.84  
Independent Nicole Donnelly 282 2.91  
Total valid votes 9,686 97.06  
Total rejected ballots 293 2.94  
Turnout 9,979 42.01 +4.44
Electors on the lists 23,755    
Source: Election results, 2013, City of Montreal.
2009 Montreal municipal election: Councillor, Hochelaga
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Vision Montreal Laurent Blanchard (incumbent) 4,965 57.36 +10.90
Projet Montréal Éric Alan Caldwell 2,560 29.57 +12.03
Union Montreal Louis Cléroux 1,131 13.07 −22.94
Total valid votes 8,656 96.73  
Total rejected ballots 293 3.27  
Turnout 8,949 37.57  
Electors on the lists 23,817    
Source: Election results, 2009, City of Montreal.
2005 Montreal municipal election: Councillor, Hochelaga
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Vision Montreal Laurent Blanchard 2,877 46.46 −17.62
Citizens Union Luc Larivée (incumbent) 2,230 36.01 +10.48
Projet Montréal José Feliciano Arias 1,086 17.54
Total valid votes 6,193
Source: Election results, 1833-2005 (in French), City of Montreal.


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Blanchard's other portfolios (buildings, real estate transactions, and information technology) appear to have been newly created positions.
  2. ^ a b c "Laurent Blanchard new interim mayor of Montreal" Archived 2013-06-28 at the Wayback Machine. The Gazette, June 25, 2013.
  3. ^ Conseil d'arrondissement, Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, City of Montreal, accessed 18 November 2012.
  4. ^ Linda Gyulai, "City councillors to vote on pay freeze," Montreal Gazette, 1 November 2006, A8.
  5. ^ Windsor Star, 19 December 2006, C1.
  6. ^ Linda Gyulai, "Rising contract costs raise questions; Short-lived price drop over,"Montreal Gazette, 17 November 2011, A4. The phrase, "deviate from norms" is Gyulai's.
  7. ^ Linda Gyulai, "Two ways city could fight collusion," Montreal Gazette, 17 September 2012, A4.
  8. ^ "New Montreal agglomeration council named". The Gazette (Montreal). November 22, 2012.
  9. ^ "Tensions rise over executive committee; Union Montreal unhappy with role," Montreal Gazette, 21 November 2012, A4; Ren Bruemmer, "Applebaum delivers promised mix; Executive committee introduced; Vision gets three seats, Union three, Projet two, plus three independents," Montreal Gazette, 23 November 2012, A4; "Applebaum appoints rare coalition cabinet to run Montreal", CTV News, 22 November 2012, accessed 11 July 2013.
  10. ^ Catherine Solyom, "City bars Dessau from bidding for 5 years; Other firms admitting collusion will face bans, too," Montreal Gazette, 27 April 2013, A7. Applebaum and Blanchard added that other firms admitting collusion would also be banned.
  11. ^ a b Ren Bruemmer, "Blanchard pledges serenity, stability; Former newspaper publisher sworn in after a close vote," Montreal Gazette, 26 June 2013, A4.
  12. ^ Christopher Curtis, "Blanchard shuffles city's executive committee, seeking consensus," Montreal Gazette, 29 June 2013, A4.
  13. ^ Monsieur Laurent Blanchard, City of Montreal, accessed 11 July 2013.
  14. ^ Sue Montgomery, "Contracts go to firms linked to corruption; City taps SNC Lavalin, BPR to fix crumbling infrastructure despite previous bid-rigging," Montreal Gazette, 8 August 2013, A6.
  15. ^ http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/montreal-north-residents-unimpressed-by-1-1m-piece-of-street-art-1.2494118
  16. ^ http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/07/28/une-oeuvre-gigantesque-qui-fait-des-vagues
  17. ^ "Mayor Applebaum appoints cross-party Executive Committee". CTV Montreal. 2012-11-22. Retrieved 23 November 2012.