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Suspended SQ director blasts ‘sick’ system ahead of possible dismissal

Prud’homme was suspended from his duties in March 2019 after the head of the province’s office of criminal prosecutions filed an ethics complaint against him concerning a telephone call he made to her 16 months earlier.

“After a year of investigation concerning the telephone call, I was cleared of any infraction of a criminal nature without any of the investigators ever meeting with me, though I offered to collaborate fully,” wrote Prud’homme.

“The true intention behind this investigation was not the telephone call, but rather to conduct a vast fishing expedition aiming to associate me with leaks to the media and based only on the assumption of my friendship with (Quebec MNA) Guy Ouellette and my family ties with ex-UPAC commissioner Robert Lafrenière.”

Prud’homme’s name repeatedly surfaced in a 2017 affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for then-Liberal MNA Ouellette. Quebec’s anti-corruption unit (UPAC) arrested Ouellette, a former SQ sergeant, in connection with allegations that he leaked confidential information to reporters. Lafrenière — UPAC’s director at the time — is Prud’homme’s father-in-law. The search warrant targeting Ouellette was ultimately invalidated, and Lafrenière resigned his post in 2018 amid criticism over his handling of the investigation.

In Friday’s statement, Prud’homme complained that “at no time was I informed of the true motive for my suspension and never was I met with to obtain my version of the facts, which goes against the principles of fundamental justice.

“The government is about to make a decision based on erroneous, incomplete facts that contain a multitude of shortcuts.”

A few hours after Prud’homme’s statement was made public, Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault announced that the province’s public service commission would examine Prud’homme’s case and recommend whether he be dismissed or suspended without pay.

Guilbault told reporters that an administrative investigation of Prud’homme found he had committed a sufficiently serious breach of ethics for the investigative process allowed by law to continue.

The report of that administrative investigation had been provided to Prud’homme in June and would be kept confidential unless he consented to share it publicly, Guilbault said.

Opposition parties wasted little time criticizing how the government had handled Prud’homme’s case.

Quebec Liberal public security critic Jean Rousselle complained that Guilbault had not been sufficiently forthcoming with the details of what, precisely, Prud’homme’s offence had been.

“We’re talking about the No. 1 person at the SQ,” he said. “Given the information we have right now, it seems this is a settling of scores and grudges.”

For Québec solidaire, Prud’homme’s case showed “it is time to end the petty politics within police forces. It tarnishes our police institutions, which are already lacking in (public) trust.”

QS MNA Alexandre Leduc said it was time to introduce civilian leaders into police forces “to break this unhealthy dynamic that has existed within these institutions for years.”

Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said: “We are very concerned that Mr. Prud’homme will not have the chance to present his point of view. We ask once again to meet Mr. Prud’homme in camera and to have access to all the reports.”

Prud’homme said he intends to defend his rights and reputation before “a just and impartial body” since the political system “has already decided my career is finished.”

Finally, in his statement, Prud’homme reached out to all Quebec police officers, urging them to “keep your heads held high and continue to believe in the justice you defend daily.”

“Certainly, a part of the system is sick, but the public needs your integrity and your values.”

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Shooting victim in critical condition after murder attempt in Montreal North

A 21-year-old man remained in critical condition Friday morning after being targeted in the borough of Montreal North Thursday night.

The victim, who is known to police, was shot repeatedly while he stood at the corner of Langelier Blvd. and Villeneuve St. at about 9:50 p.m.

Police answering a 911 call reporting shots fired found the victim wounded in the upper and lower body. Despite his wounds, the man was conscious while being transported to a hospital.

A crime scene remained operational at the intersection Friday morning, and investigators are questioning witnesses but receiving little co-operation, a police spokesperson said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.



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Quebec names female civilian to lead Sûreté du Québec

Quebec Public Security Minister ⁦Geneviève Guilbault, left, introduces Johanne Beausoleil, the new interim head of ⁦
Sûreté du Québec, to the media in Quebec City on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.

Twitter / Montreal Gazette

QUEBEC — For the first time in Quebec’s history, a woman will lead the Sûreté du Québec, which is getting its third chief in less than a year.

On Wednesday, the Quebec cabinet named a rare civilian, Johanne Beausoleil, to the post of associate director-general of the force starting Dec. 2 for a three-year period. That also allows the government to name her director-general on an interim basis.

Currently working for the Montreal police force but a former internal auditor of the SQ, Beausoleil starts her new job Dec. 16.

The announcement was made by Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault.

“We have a choice candidate,” Guilbault said at a news conference, where she was joined by Beausoleil. “Mme Beausoleil has all the qualifications to occupy this post. She is well aware of the challenges that the provincial police is facing.”

Added Beausoleil: “The biggest challenge is to mobilize resources and continue to work in this direction. It is also to encourage more female officers to apply, to be more present (in the force); it will be my pleasure to encourage this.”

Beausoleil becomes the second interim director named by the government this year in the wake of the sudden departure of Martin Prud’homme under a cloud of mystery nine months ago.

He was relieved of duty by Guilbault, who said she had a duty to act following allegations of a criminal nature against Prud’homme.

Prud’homme has not been arrested or charged with anything and is home earning a full salary pending the results of the investigation, which has been turned over to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI).

There have been reports the suspension is connected to the leak of information at the province’s anti-corruption unit (UPAC).

Following Prud’homme’s departure, the government put Mario Bouchard in charge of the force, but Bouchard has announced plans to move up his planned retirement to mid-December, so Quebec had to act.

Bouchard recommended Beausoleil for the job.

It is not known how long Beausoleil will be in the position — she has an open mandate as interim director-general — or whether she may be asked or will apply to be the permanent leader of the force should Prud’homme not be cleared or not return.

“This is not what is being asked of me,” Beausoleil said when asked by reporters if she’s interested in the job. “And this is a hypothetical question. We are not at this stage yet.”

Her arrival was welcomed starting at the top by Premier François Legault, who was asked if appointing a civilian to the strategic post is an advantage.

“There are pros, there are cons,” Legault told reporters earlier. “What’s important is that the person shows leadership, that she be accepted by the employees of the SQ, that she be someone who has a proven track record in managing personnel.”

Beausoleil said she does not see an obstacle by the fact she is not a police officer and is taking over a force that has traditionally been run like a military operation.

“I don’t see this (no police status) as a challenge,” Beausoleil said. “It think it’s a question of competency, much more than a question of sex or civil status.”

The opposition parties had no objections to the nomination, but interim Liberal Leader Pierre Arcand returned to the Prud’homme departure question.

“It’s not normal that after all this time, after a person is removed from their functions, that this person not know exactly where he stands,” Arcand said.

Born in Montreal, Beausoleil, 56, has degrees from the Université du Québec à Montréal and a masters in public administration from the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP).

Although she will be seen as an outside bureaucrat in the SQ, Beausoleil worked there for four years as an internal auditor where she was responsible for ethics and evaluation of programs for the top brass.

She also has 27 years experience working for Quebec’s correctional services, including five years as a deputy public security minister for correctional services.

There have been two civilian bureaucratic heads of the SQ in the past: Guy Coulombe, a top “go-to” mandarin on tough issues in 1996, and Florent Gagné, another bureaucrat, in 2003.

Under a new law, the full-time head of the force has to be voted on by two-thirds of MNAs in the legislature.

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