Readings — From the March 2013 issue

Better Safe

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From the October 29, 2012, testimony of Martin Dumont to a Canadian public inquiry into corruption charges against various Montreal city officials. Dumont was an organizer for Union Montréal, the political party of the city’s former mayor Gérald Tremblay, who resigned amid the allegations in November. Bernard Trépanier, the party’s finance director, was arrested last May. Denis Gallant is the lead prosecutor. Translated from the French by Jess Cotton.

denis gallant: To your memory, did people come to Mr. Trépanier’s office to bring donations to Union Montréal?

martin dumont: If you’re asking whether I saw monetary transactions between visitors and Mr. Trépanier, the answer is no. We called Mr. Trépanier’s office the aquarium, because it didn’t have any windows but the front of the office was all glass with vertical blinds.

gallant: Did you ever see cash in the offices?

dumont: Yes. For example, for a brunch or a spaghetti dinner, we’d have 400 guests, each paying thirty-five dollars.

gallant: Did the Vieux-Montréal offices have a safe?

dumont: Yes, in Mr. Trépanier’s office.

gallant: Did you ever see the contents of the safe in the course of your duties?

dumont: One time.

gallant: Can you give us some details from that episode?

dumont: I was sitting in my office, and I remember that it was starting to get dark outside, so it was definitely late afternoon, perhaps even early evening. Mr. Trépanier was in his office. He called to me in that distinct voice of his: “Martin, come help me, please — come into my office.” So I went into his office, and it was odd because I couldn’t see where he was. He said: “Close the door.” I closed the door. “Close the blinds.” I closed the blinds. And then I realized that Mr. Trépanier was behind his desk, kneeling down in front of his safe.

gallant: How big was this safe?

dumont: Rather big — I’d say at least two feet high by two feet wide.

gallant: So what exactly did you do?

dumont: Well, I asked him: “What can I do to help you, Bernard?” And he said: “The door won’t close.” So I said: “What’s wrong? Is there a problem with the lock?” He said: “No. It’s too full, you have to help me.” And that’s when he opened up the safe in question.

gallant: And you saw a large sum of cash inside?

dumont: To date, I think it is the largest sum of money I have ever seen in my life. What I remember is not the quantity but the colors. Red, brown, pink.

gallant: So there were fifty-dollar bills, hundred-dollar bills, thousand-dollar bills?

dumont: Yes. I was rather shocked. Or not really shocked but shaken.

gallant: Did you manage to close it?

dumont: Mr. Trépanier took out some bills wrapped in rubber bands and put them in his coat. Then, between the two of us, we managed to close the door. I made a little nervous joke to Bernard: “You know, you might need to change the size of your safe.” It was just a joke. What I can tell you, however, is that two weeks later, when I went back into Mr. Trépanier’s office, he had gotten a new safe.

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More from Jess Cotton:

Readings From the May 2013 issue

Coop de Grâce

Weekly Review December 11, 2012, 8:00 am

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