Mayoral Mischief

December 6th, 2012 by Dan Allan

What do the Canadian cities of Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, London, Laval and Mascouche have in common? Recently, their mayors have been in the news for the wrong reasons.

Some have been removed from office, some have stepped down, and some are hanging on to their jobs despite some serious allegations. Today’s blog provides a quick rundown, from west to east.

It is important to note that the allegations listed in this blog have not yet been proven or are under appeal. Additionally, there are many more examples of Canadian mayors performing their duties without scandal or negative media attention. We will profile some of them in an upcoming blog.

Winnipeg, MB

Sam Katz has been the mayor of Winnipeg since 2004, having won three consecutive elections. Katz is currently being investigated for the questionable use of taxpayer money on food at a restaurant he owns. This potential conflict of interest will be formally investigated during an April 2013 hearing. If Katz is deemed to have violated the Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act, he will lose his seat as mayor.

London, ON

Joe Fontana has been the mayor London since 2010. Previously, he served as the Member of Parliament for both London East and London North Centre. Fontana currently faces fraud charges that allege he inappropriately used federal government funds to pay for his son’s wedding reception while serving as an MP. Fontana is currently refusing to step down as mayor but will appear in court on January 8th, 2013.

Toronto, ON

Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto in 2010. Last Monday, Ford was found guilty of conflict of interest and will be removed from office, pending an appeal which will allow him to remain mayor until it is processed. Ford had been accused of breaking the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act when he participated in a vote that absolved him of repaying donor funds that he had solicited for his football foundation. A mayoral by-election will likely be held in Toronto if Ford loses his January 7, 2013 appeal. Ford will be able to run in this by-election, unless city council decides to select a replacement instead.

Laval, QC

Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt stepped down last month because of several corruption allegations related to improperly awarded construction contracts. He had been mayor since 1989. Vaillancourt denies the allegations and officially resigned due to health concerns. He will be replaced by Alexandre Duplessis.

Mascouche, QC

Richard Marcotte was elected mayor of Mascouche, Quebec in 1992. Last spring he was charged with fraud, conspiracy and breach of trust regarding public contracts. Marcotte denies the allegations and says he resigned primarily to spend more time with his family. Lise Gagnon is currently serving as the interim mayor until province wide municipal elections are held next fall.

Montreal, QC

Gérard Tremblay, the mayor of Montreal since 2002, resigned last month despite allegations of corruption and electoral misspending by his Union Montréal party. These are similar allegations to those faced by the mayors of Laval and Mascouche. Michael Applebaum was chosen by the city council to serve as interim mayor; he is the city’s first Anglophone mayor since 1912.


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