After his confidential emails were hacked, Montreal Auditor General Jacques Bergeron has decided to sue the municipal employees responsible for the espionage.
Bergeron is suing the municipal employees on the grounds that their actions violated the Quebec Cities and Towns Act, which mandates autonomy between municipal employees and the Auditor General.
However, Martine Painchaud, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office, stated that she thought Bergeron moved too quickly.
“We are very disappointed in that reaction because we would have wished that he would have waited for the Municipal Affairs minister to express himself on this matter before suing,” she said.
Gilles Corriveau, a spokesperson for Jacques Bergeron, disagreed with Painchaud’s assessment. He described the espionage operation by stating, “the whole process is illegal.”
“It doesn’t make any difference. They are mixing apples and oranges,” said Corriveau. “The Municipal minister doesn’t have authority over the Auditor General.”
The recent espionage controversy is one chapter in an ongoing series of corruption incidents, which have plagued Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s tenure. Auditor General Jacques Bergeron uncovered many of these incidents of corruption.
Employees from Comptroller General Pierre Reid’s office – in charge of internal spending – are some of the municipal employees being sued by Bergeron for spying on him.
In a recent article in The Daily, Projet Montréal city councillor Alex Norris said he was not surprised that a city employee who worked to hold municipal workers like Reid publically accountable had been a victim of espionage operations.
Norris stated in an interview to The Daily last week that he believed Tremblay approved the espionage campaign in order to “sideline” the Auditor General by destroying his reputation.
Municipal opposition leader Richard Bergeron (not related to Jacques Bergeron) has issued a formal complaint to the Quebec Municipal Affairs minister regarding the espionage attempt.
Norris applauded the Auditor General’s decision. “It’s not up to the Municipal Affairs minister to settle this issue. The Auditor General does not report to the Quebec Municipal Affairs minister, he reports to the City Council as a whole,” he said. “If Jacques Bergeron establishes that this espionage operation is illegal he will have done a service to Montrealers by having the courts uphold the independence and autonomy of the Auditor General of Montreal.”