Alexandre Duplessis, the scandal plagued mayor of Laval, Quebec in Canada, has denied allegations that he received or solicited sexual favors. He told reporters Friday he is innocent of the allegations and will stay in office until completion of his interim mandate. This incident is the latest in a series of scandals to rock the Canadian political scene.
Duplessis is temporary replacement mayor of the city of Laval. He insisted he was a victim of an extortion attempt.
“I never, never, never received sexual services,” Duplessis said in the brief news conference Friday morning.
“I did not solicit…I received nothing sexual. There was an attempt to extort me.”
News stories surfaced on Thursday that the interim mayor was involved in a confrontation with an escort.
Quebec police confirm that on June 14, an individual filed a complaint with them stating that he was extorted by a prostitute. But the police refused to identify the man who filed the complaint. They only said a man got into an argument about payment to an escort and was later threatened with blackmail.
“Regarding the individual, we never say who, nor the profession, nor their status,” police spokeperson said.
“A man used an escort service. There was a fight about the payment, then a complaint was filed about extortion. We’re investigating.”
A spokesman for the mayor would only say that the mayor felt he was a victim and decided to turn matter to police. The spokesman refused to confirm that the complaint came after a dispute over payment disagreement to the escort.
“The mayor’s confirming that there’s been an extortion attempt against him,” the spokesman told reporters. “He immediately called the authorities. As we speak, it’s in their hands.”
Duplessis himself told reporters Friday he had filed the complaint. Reports say that the mayor had been approached at least three times for demands of increasingly large sums of money by two women in order to the silence him.
Citing police sources, reporters said Duplessis allegedly canceled his meeting with the women when one of them recognized him. A dispute over payment ensued.
Reports said this incident took place approximately two weeks after the Quebec government appointed a trustee to oversee and vet the decisions made by Duplessis and city council in Laval, which, according to sources , “along with Montreal has been identified as ground zero for the province’s corruption crisis.”
Duplessis was appointed interim mayor of Laval last November after ex-mayor Gilles Vaillancourt resigned amid allegations of corruption. Vaillancourt was arrested in May and charged with gangsterism. He is alleged to have organized an intricate system of bribes from engineering and construction firms in exchange for securing public contracts.
Duplessis troubles are the latest in a series of politico scandals that have rocked Canadian cities.
Early this month, Montreal’s interim mayor Michael Applebaum was arrested on corruption and defrauding the government charges. Applebaum took over from ex-Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay who resigned last fall amid allegations of illegal campaign donations. Another mayor faulted for misdeeds is Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto. He has been accused of appearing in a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine.
There are those who worry that these Canadian public officials are bent on defaming Canada’s reputation as a clean and upright culture.
By Perviz Walji