The City of Greater Sudbury is expected to ask Greater Sudbury Police Service to investigate an allegation of bribery Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier recently described.
In introducing a motion to that effect during Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer said Montpellier’s “serious allegations” have cast “a cloud of doubt over the integrity of ourselves as councillors and our entire organization.”
At issue is a Facebook post Montpellier made earlier this month in which he wrote that he did not vote on the location for a new municipal arena in 2017 due to an “offered financial conflict of interest.”
The councillor went on to write that he was “approached in person twice by Mr. A--- on behalf of the developer, and once by Mr. K-- who represented Gateway.
“Being familiar with my business involvement and participation with Ontario and Michigan casinos, both suggested the opportunity to personally profit by supporting the Kingsway location,” he wrote. “This for myself as a city councilor is clearly unethical and cause to abstain.”
After catching wind of the Facebook post, Mayor Brian Bigger called Montpellier’s accusations “very concerning” and urged him to “reach out to the police so that this matter can be investigated immediately."
While Montpellier said Tuesday that his “words were very clear, very, very clear” and that he was also “very clear what I said in 2017,” Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier said that Montpellier’s recent word choice has been problematic.
Particularly troublesome, he said, was the use of the phrase “offered a financial conflict.”
“This is about the institution that we serve as elected officials and a demonstration that what we say and the words we use, where we use them, how we use them, matters,” Cormier said.
The conflict of interest Montpellier declared at city council’s June 27, 2017, meeting made no mention of him being offered anything.
His declared conflict of interest at the time, which prevented him from voting on a location for the KED, was: “Due to my full-time motorsport entertainment business, this decision, either way, will affect my outside of council professional and financial situation.”
This situation appears to be part of “what seems like an ongoing campaign attempting to put a cloud over council’s head,” Mayor Brian Bigger said during Tuesday’s meeting, adding that Montpellier’s comments have “certainly been interpreted by many people to allege criminal activity.”
Bigger then asked Montpellier how many views his Facebook post had received, to which Montpellier replied 25,660.
“With that, and with the financial expenditures to promote this as if it were advertising to get those 25,000 views, this really does turn into a bit of mischief,” Bigger began, only to be spoken over by the much louder Montpellier.
“You’re personally attacking me on a paper that I wrote that’s very factual,” Montpellier said. “So get the hell on with your vote and do it.”
After Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini offered support for Montpellier’s assertion that Bigger was out of order, the mayor attempted to call a vote when Montpellier spoke up again.
The mayor initially ignored Montpellier’s request to speak so Montpellier again spoke over him.
“Sir, you are questioning my honesty — you are questioning my honesty ... my integrity, my business practices, you have overstepped your bounds,” Montpellier told the mayor.
With that, the final vote took place, in which council agreed to request a police investigation into the alleged bribe. When it came time for Montpellier to give his vote, he said, “positively yes.”
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political matters for Sudbury.com.