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Former justice John Gomery joins fringe party in Montreal municipal politics

MONTREAL - John Gomery, the judge who headed the inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal, is getting involved in Montreal municipal politics.

MONTREAL - John Gomery, the judge who headed the inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal, is getting involved in Montreal municipal politics.

Gomery, who retired from the bench two years ago, will not be a candidate for the fringe Projet Montreal, but will oversee the party's campaign financing leading up to the Nov. 1 election.

In the last year, allegations of corruption have swirled around Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay's party.

Gomery said Monday it's time to clean up city hall.

"There's a very disagreeable odour surrounding the city's current administration," he told a news conference.

"I find that my co-citizens are discouraged, cynical and have an attitude that nothing can be done."

It's been a long year for Tremblay's administration, which is facing allegations of ties to extortion and Mafia-meddling over a $10.6-million contract to replace a roof at city hall.

The mayor's Union Montreal party has also come under fire for its handling of a $355-million contract to install water meters. The contract, the largest in Montreal's history, is under investigation by the city's auditor general.

Also this year, the head of the city's housing and development corporation was fired after a city auditor's report revealed irregularities in several property transactions.

The administration has become part of a police investigation directed at corruption in the construction industry.

"It seems to me that there is an obvious lack of supervision of the contract process - the contracts are being given out in dubious circumstances," Gomery said.

Gomery, whose daughter Cym is running for a city council seat for Projet Montreal, also indicates there's a lack of transparency in campaign financing.

But after celebrating his 77th birthday Sunday, Gomery insists he has no plans to run for office - municipal, provincial or federal.

He did, however, offer an opinion on the condition of Montreal's decaying infrastructure.

"I've travelled in other countries in the world and I can't think of any place, except places like Third World countries, where the streets are in such a terrible, terrible condition," he said.

"The physical state of the city is an embarrassment."

In his first report in November 2005, Gomery concluded that millions of taxpayer dollars had been skimmed by Liberal-friendly ad agencies and that some of the cash had flowed back to the party in under-the-table kickbacks.

 
 
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