Jacques Nadeau Archives Le Devoir Dominique Ollivier (left) alongside the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, November 24, 2021
While deeming the excessive expenses of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) unacceptable, Mayor Valérie Plante is quicker to blame the current president of the organization, Isabelle Beaulieu, than her right-hand man, Dominique Ollivier, who held the same functions for seven years, denounces the leader of the opposition, Aref Salem, who accuses him of granting differential treatment to the two managers.
The leader of Ensemble Montréal does not understand that the mayor maintain her confidence in Dominique Ollivier, while she summons Isabelle Beaulieu before a commission — possibly the Council Presidency Commission — and that she mandates the general auditor to scrutinize the expenses incurred by the OCPM.
According to him, both Ms. Beaulieu and Ms. Ollivier should appear before a City commission to account for travel and catering expenses incurred during their respective mandates. “When the mayor is disturbed to see what Ms. Beaulieu did, she should be equally disturbed to see what Ms. Ollivier did,” said Mr. Salem. I really deplore this double standard that the mayor is giving to the current president versus the former president of the OCPM. »
A few minutes earlier, during a press briefing at city hall, Valérie Plante had denounced the OCPM's management of public funds, following an investigation by the Journal de Montréal which reports expenses deemed excessive for travel, restaurant meals and equipment, such as three interactive screens costing more than $20,000 and headphones costing $900 for President Isabelle Beaulieu.
“It was done within a framework. But even if there’s nothing illegal, is it okay? The answer is no,” argued the mayor.
On the subject of differential treatment, Valérie Plante argued that Dominique Ollivier, who chaired the OCPM from 2014 to 2021, had given interviews to the media to explain the expenses made under his mandate. “What reassures me in this storm is that Dominique is standing and facing the music. It doesn’t slip away,” she said. The elected official stressed that, on the other hand, Isabelle Beaulieu had refused to answer questions from the Journal de Montréal.
She also praised the qualities of Dominique Ollivier, of whom she does not call into question probity. “I reiterate my confidence in Ms. Ollivier as president of the executive committee. […] I have a front-row seat to witness Dominique’s rigor and dedication,” she said, highlighting her contribution to taxation and the fight against systemic discrimination.
The mayor emphasized that she had discussed the matter with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest. “We are exactly on the same wavelength. We want to clean up and we are not going to spare any effort. […] Citizens’ trust in their public institutions is fundamental. »
Minister Laforest said she was troubled by the Quebecor media revelations. “I am committed to quickly analyzing the recommendations of the Auditor General's report and will not hesitate to make the necessary legislative changes,” she said on social networks.
At a conference in Brazil
While the OCPM finds itself at the center of a heated controversy, the organization's secretary general, Guy Grenier, whose expenses have also been called into question, is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he is participating in a conference organized by the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy. Tuesday afternoon, he was to act as a panelist during a discussion on the consultation process in Longueuil, with Julie Caron-Malenfant, president of the Longueuil Public Participation Office.
< p>The president of the OCPM, however, announced Monday that all travel was temporarily suspended and that a complete review of the organization's rules and practices would be carried out.
In an email on Tuesday, the organization has not commented on Mr. Grenier’s case. However, it is indicated that Ms. Beaulieu intends to reserve her comments for the verification process announced the day before by the mayor. “She will collaborate in complete transparency with the committee of the presidency of the municipal council,” it was added.
For his part, Aref Salem continues to demand the resignation of Ms. Ollivier, who, according to him, , no longer has the credibility required to manage the City's finances. He believes that Isabelle Beaulieu and Guy Grenier should also leave their positions.