The leader had his hands tied

Montreal Police Director Sylvain Caron has often had his hands tied against Mayor Valérie Plante and the Quebec government during the shortened term he ends today.

Reform of neighborhood police stations, funding of the police, management of the firearms crisis; Sylvain Caron was often told no and rarely had free rein during his mandate, which was to be five years, but ultimately lasted less than three and a half years.

This is the finding of several police and political sources who have confided in our Office of Investigation in recent weeks.

These people, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, described how difficult the collaboration between the chief and the provincial and municipal political bodies has been:

-In the spring of 2021, the Plante administration held talks with Mr. Caron to reduce the budget of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) by several million dollars, but the chief opposed it, indicate our sources within the police and the City.

As the October 2021 municipal elections approached, the mayor “was trying to please voters who were campaigning for the defunding of the police,” says one of our informants.

-M. Caron and Ms. Plante also shared divergent opinions on the issue of neighborhood stations. In a presentation he made to the City’s Executive Committee on March 11, 2020, the director of the SPVM wanted to close four positions as part of a merger. He wanted to reduce costs and put more police on the ground.


On September 2, shots rang out in the Pierrefonds district.  Chief Caron had proposed to the mayor to merge neighborhood stations, particularly in this sector, in order to put more police back on the streets.



Photo archives, QMI Agency

On September 2, shots rang out in the Pierrefonds district. Chief Caron had proposed to the mayor to merge neighborhood stations, particularly in this sector, in order to put more police back on the streets.

The consolidation of substations 3 (Île-Bizard and Pierrefonds-Roxboro) and 4 (Dollard-Des Ormeaux), in the west of the metropolis, would have been particularly badly received, we learned.

-The Montreal police director also had to deal with the presence of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the Legault government in his rear view mirror.

Still according to our sources, the creation of Operation Centaure to combat the outbreak of violence in the streets of Montreal, announced in September 2021 by the Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, is a will of Quebec.

The command of this unit is also provided by Chief Inspector Benoit Dubé, of the SQ.

At the SPVM, several police officers had also reacted badly to the fact that the SQ had come to manage what was happening on the territory of Montreal. They claim that it was his service that had expertise in street gangs, unlike the provincial police.

When announcing his retirement last March, Chief Caron admitted to some communication problems with the Plante administration.

“There is a wall between politics and police operations,” he admitted, adding that the situation had since been “regulated”.


The Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, unveiled Operation Centaur in September.



Screenshot, TVA Nouvelles

The Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, unveiled Operation Centaur in September.

At his side, Valérie Plante assured “that by dint of working together, we have found a balance”.

Sylvain Caron, who notably made a career at the Sûreté du Québec, was brought to the SPVM in March 2018 by Martin Prud’homme, who was then the big boss of the SQ and also led the Montreal service on an interim basis.

Mr. Caron never hid it from those close to him: he never wanted to become director of the SPVM in November 2018. It was at the insistence of Martin Prud’homme that he accepted.

In private, Mr. Caron told his peers that he did not want to stay longer than three years.

By leaving prematurely, Chief Caron also avoids having to start negotiations for the next collective agreement with the Brotherhood of Police Officers, which expired on December 31.

The talks would have placed him in a delicate situation, because he gets on very well with the president of the Fraternity, Yves Francoeur, according to our sources.

Do you have public interest information about the police? Contact me confidentially: 514 212-3937 or marc.sandreschi@quebecormedia.com

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