Witness who sunk Montreal mayor didn't mention him in first interrogation

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - A man whose public-inquiry testimony was so devastating to the Montreal mayor that it forced him to quit failed to mention him in his original meeting with investigators.

The revelation today comes nearly three months after a former mayoral aide torpedoed Gerald Tremblay's career by testifying that the mayor knew about illegal party financing.

The inquiry has now heard that Martin Dumont, the aide, didn't mention that detail until his second encounter with investigators.

When asked how such an omission could have occurred, Dumont said today that he found the anecdote "trivial."

Dumont is back on the witness stand at the inquiry today, with his testimony from last fall coming under attack by counsel.

Dumont has already admitted that he made up another anecdote, one unrelated to the mayor, when he originally testified in October.

At the time, as Tremblay resigned in scandal, he vehemently denied Dumont's testimony and said he was eager to clear his name.

The former aide had testified that Tremblay was at a meeting where he heard his party kept two sets of books — one for legal purposes, and a real one. Dumont said the mayor promptly stood up and, declaring that he did not want to be involved in such a chat, left the room.

The claim severely damaged Tremblay's reputation, after he had spent years professing ignorance of any criminal activity within his Union Montreal party.

Today the inquiry heard that Dumont mentioned the controversial 2004 meeting when he met investigators last Sept. 12 — but he left out the mayor's presence. He mentioned Tremblay when he met investigators a second time, the following month.

Commission chair France Charbonneau questioned today how Dumont could have described the detail as trivial, and she wondered why he wouldn't have shared it the first time.

Asked bluntly, under cross-examination by Union Montreal's lawyer, if he invented the story involving the mayor, Dumont maintained the testimony he gave was true.

Concerns about Dumont's credibility have dominated the commission this week, since it returned from its holiday break.

Tremblay cannot be reached for comment through his former spokesman. But he is expected to respond on the inquiry witness stand.