How Plante and Drapeau Licked the Montreal Underworld

The rackets ran full blast while police helped criminals dodge the law. Then a young lawyer decided it had to stop. Eight years later, after one of the most explosive court enquiries in our history, he had won his fight—and the man who helped him win it was the city's mayor

KEN JOHNSTONE December 1 1954

How Plante and Drapeau Licked the Montreal Underworld

The rackets ran full blast while police helped criminals dodge the law. Then a young lawyer decided it had to stop. Eight years later, after one of the most explosive court enquiries in our history, he had won his fight—and the man who helped him win it was the city's mayor

KEN JOHNSTONE December 1 1954

How Plante and Drapeau Licked the Montreal Underworld

The rackets ran full blast while police helped criminals dodge the law. Then a young lawyer decided it had to stop. Eight years later, after one of the most explosive court enquiries in our history, he had won his fight—and the man who helped him win it was the city's mayor


LAST OCTOBER 8 at 10.30 a.m. Mr. Justice François Caron of the Quebec Superior Court walked into a crowded Montreal courtroom to preside over the climax to one of the longest and most unusual investigations in Canadian history. For the next four and a half hours, while newspaper reporters scribbled and politicians, lawyers, policemen and ordinary individuals listened in uneasy silence, he read steadily in French from a 100,000-word report on a three-year probe into corruption and organized vice between 1940 and 1950 in Canada’s biggest city.

At times Caron spoke sternly. At times he was bitterly sarcastic. At times he injected a note of subdued humor. What emerged was a picture of

mink-coated $30,000-a-year bawdy-house madams driving Cadillacs, gambling joints raking in fortunes under the eyes of corrupt police officers, and city councilors pretending they knew nothing about conditions that were common knowledge.

When Caron stepped from the bench, leaving a scene of murmuring confusion behind him, some reputations had been ruined, some careers blasted, some officials exonerated. Two men had been vindicated. They were Pacifique Plante, a lean dark lawyer who had brought about these astound-

ing happenings through one of the most exciting and exacting personal crusades any Canadian has ever ventured upon, and Jean Drapeau, a fellow lawyer who bears an uncanny resemblance to Plante and who was his partner in exposing the system of official toleration that permitted vice to operate. Eighteen days after Judge Caron’s indictment Drapeau was to be swept to a startling landslide victory as the city’s mayor on the strength of his promise to clean up the conditions he had helped to expose.

For twenty months before May 1948 Plante had been a hard-hitting assistant director of the Montreal police force. His assignment was to clean up Montreal. He did this better than his predecessors, although at various times he was up against dishonesty in official as well as other places, inertia, blackmail, pressure groups, and an attempt on his life. Then, suddenly, he was fired. He left the force a disillusioned and seemingly beaten man, his task only a fraction done, his public career apparently finished. But within a year he was back facing his foes.

A group of indignant Montrealers rallied around him. Le Devoir, a Montreal newspaper noted for its Hunt courage, persuaded him to write a series of articles which contended that sin was officially tolerated in Montreal. In Le Devoir Plante made a staggering 15,000 specific allegations. His articles were later published as a book, Montréal Sous Le Regre de la Pègre—Montreal Under the Reign of the Underworld. It was a local best seller and support for its author snowballed.

In May 1950 influential citizens who believed in Piante presented to Chief Justice O. S. Tyndale of Quebec Superior Court a petition asking a full enquiry into Plante’s accusations. Tyndale delegated Judge Ca^on to conduct the hearings. A thirtyyear-old special enactment gave Caron authority to dismiss the accused from office and levy fines. He appointed Plante and Drapeau, who had helped Plante draw up the petition, as his special assistants.

Four years and five months later, on Oct. 8,

These were the actors in the bizarre drama that rocked our biggest city

1954, Caron gave his judgment. He declared that twenty present and former high-ranking officers of the Montreal police, including Director of Police Albert Langlois and former Director of Police Fernand Dufresne, had tolerated vice. He ordered that Director Langlois be fired and barred from public office for a year and that he pay $500 of the costs of the enquiry. He barred former Director Dufresne from public office for five years and ordered that he pay $7,000 in costs. He assessed costs ranging from $300 to $7,000 against eighteen other police officers and discharged those of them who hadn’t already quit or been fired from the force.

He endorsed Pacifique Plante’s charge that for years gambling houses and brothels had operated on a big-business scale with the toleration and protection of police officers. He confirmed Plante’s contention that, both before and after his brief term as its director, the Montreal morality squad had made a show of cracking down on the rackets while actually providing them with the combined services of a lackey and a guardian angel.

In their main features these services almost never varied. When a barbotte house, a bordello, or a horse parlor was raided no attempt was made to identify or prosecute its real proprietor; instead a minor employee was allowed to act as stand-in, plead guilty, pay a small fine and hurry hack to work. When customers were caught in a raid,

police accepted hail for them on the spot; they were almost never embarrassed, then or later, by being asked to appear in court. When a hook or brothel was ordered padlocked under the city’s anti-vice bylaws, the police often put the lock not on the main entrance but on the door to a clothes cupboard, a broom closet or a bedroom inside. When a genuine entrance was padlocked, police often closed their eyes to the fact that right beside it was another entrance giving access to the same haven of prostitutes, bookmakers or barbotte dealers. The customers of course had been taught to ignore the locked entrance and enter by the other one.

By these and even more ingenious methods, hundreds of brothels and gambling houses were “raided” and “closed down” thousands and ten thousands of times without actually being out of business for more than a few minutes or losing more than a few dollars in revenue. Neither Plante nor Judge Caron made any attempt to establish how much they might have had to pay in bribes, fines, unrefunded hail and lawyers’ fees. But the testimony of police and racketeers alike left no doubt that the girls upstairs and the hoys in the hack room were bringing in far more money than the law was taking out.

Some joints paid the costs of as many as two hundred convictions and still remained in business. And they found personal inconvenience almost as rare as financial inconvenience. Raids on brothels were seldom made unless twenty-four hours’ notice had been given to the madam. Then the madam herself was almost never arrested. Usually she delegated one of her girls to enter the plea of guilty.

Almost everyone caught the spirit of it. One morality-squad sergeant testified that on arresting a girl named Paulette Dery for the fiftieth time he treated the occasion with the ceremony befitting a “fiftieth anniversary.” A bookmaker admitted there had been times when none of his clerks felt like standing in for the boss during a raid; his solution had been to recruit a chronic and well-known bum who went off grandly to court to identify himself as one of the underworld’s reigning kings.

To establish those general outlines of their city’s underworld, Plante, Caron and Drapeau examined 373 witnesses and sifted 4,000 court dossiers and another 1,000 special exhibits. Productive as it was, this laborious search for light had not even tried to find answers to the final question: exactly who was paid off and how much and by whom? Under the terms of the original petition the court had been set the simpler, more practical question: who tolerated lawbreaking

while being paid to stop it?

On that basis Plante’s victory had only one major limitation: his arch-

enemy, Chief J. Albert Langlois, the man who had fired Plante from the force, was absolved of wrongdoing or the toleration of wrongdoing during his term as head of the force. It was because of alleged derelictions of duty while a captain in 1945—before he was Chief or Plante had joined the force —that Langlois was ordered dismissed. He promptly appealed the dismissal and in fact remained in office until Drapeau took over as mayor. Drapeau’s first official move was to announce his intention to suspend Langlois and his plan to appoint Plante a sort of superinvestigator to look into all departments of city government. On the rights and wrongs of Langlois’ feud with Plante the judge found something to be said on both sides. He expressed the opinion that Langlois had not discharged Plante through any sympathy with or desire to make things easier for the underworld. But he added: “Mr. Langlois expelled Mr. Plante because he could not tolerate his predominance.”

Twenty-five other policemen and expolicemen were exonerated completely of various charges laid against them as was J. O. Asselin, Chairman of Montreal’s Executive Committee and four other members of the Executive Committee and City Council. But the city was ordered to pay the costs of all municipal and police officials who were exonerated. It was also ordered to pay Plante and Drapeau $15,000 each for their work in the enquiry.

When the probe began Plante had no idea that anyone was going to pay him for the years of labor ahead. But by then racket busting had become a way of life with him, in spite of the fact that he knew almost nothing about rackets ten years ago.

The Pax Plante of the mid-1940s was a quiet spectacled young lawyer whose hobbies were boating and the theatre and whose chief excitement came from promoting the annual Frido-

linons Revue, whose star, the gifted Gratiën Gelinas, was an old friend.

Plante made his living as an obscure city attorney in Recorders Court, where he helped prepare the Crown’s prosecution in morality cases. But though he regretted their numbers, Plante at first saw nothing particularly sinister in the prostitutes and small-time gamblers who filled most of his working days. In his first months in Recorders Court he had no reason to suspect that Montreal’s underworld was better organized than any other; he had seen no firm evidence pointing to collusion or corruption in the police force.

But by 1945, as he gained experience, he had begun to wonder whether the force was as effective in suppressing vice as it might have been. Plante asked and obtained permission to lecture the squad on how to gather evidence and present it most effectively in court. He was still naïve enough to think that insufficient knowledge of the law was the police force’s only major deficiency.

No Respect for the Law

Then came the now-famous Harry Davis killing and with it an abrupt change in Pax Plante’s thinking. Davis was a reputed “edge-man,” an upperechelon racketeer who collects from other racketeers to pay off for protection. The edge-man has immense power; he can dictate through the police he’s paying off who can run a book or brothel and who gets raided out of business. Davis was shot by one Louis Bercovitch who claimed that Davis had refused him “permission” to open his own gambling house.

As evidence piled up in the wake of the Davis trial, Plante became convinced that what was lacking in the enforcement of law by the Montreal police force wasn’t knowledge of the law but respect for it. The newspapers were hinting at the same conclusion. Police Director Dufresne was under heavy fire. Plante went to him with a proposition. He insisted then, as he does now, that the Criminal Code, as applied to morality cases, has all the strength it needs. He asked Dufresne for authority to direct the operation of the morality squad right from the preparation of its raids to the conduct of its cases in court. While pressure for a public probe mounted, Dufresne, already planning retirement, agreed and placed him in charge of

morality cases but without any new title.

Plante asked for additional men, office space and up-to-date squad cars to replace the elderly wrecks customarily allotted to the vice squad. “I can give you nothing,” Dufresne told him. Plante then asked for at least a padded door to his office so his conferences would not be easily overheard by the stool pigeons and vice underlings who linger in the halls of Recorders Court awaiting their cases. Dufresne promised this. The padded door was finally installed on the very day that Plante was suspended from the force.

Dufresne bluntly warned Plante that he would break his neck on the job. He hinted that powerful interests were on top. “Don’t come crying to me afterwards,” he said.

But Plante took the job and began his cleanup. His apparent assets were a passion for detail, a retentive memory, persistence, and a bluntness that could be called plain lack of diplomacy. He was no knowledgeable man about town. At thirty-nine he had never been in a gambling house in his life.

Plante’s first move was to give his men lectures on the law as it applied to morality. He made them take written examinations, and at the end of the course he asked the class:

“Now, when you see how strong the law is, why don’t you apply it?”

There was no reply. Plante said: “I know the answer. You don’t feel free to do your duty. You are afraid of losing your jobs.” Then he made a promise that he was later to keep at the cost of his own job.

He said: “If you will do your duty in carrying out the law, I will back you up, right to the Mayor if necessary. I make only one condition: You must report to me every attempt that is made to put pressure on you. I promise to remove that pressure. But if you do not report it, or if you submit to it, I will get you out of the squad.” He added: “This is no popularity contest. I will hold no grudge if anyone wants to leave the squad right now.”

Nobody left.

Plante went on some of the first raids himself and there was a pickup in the morale of the squad. His men realized that if there was to be trouble at the scene of the raid or elsewhere Plante was prepared to absorb the lion’s share in person.

When he heard that one of the big books, at 1455 Bleury Street, was operating openly he decided it was time for his first test case. He and his men raided the book, which was on the third floor of the building. There were about fifteen men standing around, uneasily waiting to see what he would do. One officer pointed out the keeper, Julius Silverberg. “Search him,” Plante ordered.

Silverberg protested: “I am a British subject. My person can’t be touched.”

“Okay,” said Plante, “take his pants off and search them.”

Silverberg hastily withdrew his objection. Plante’s men searched him and produced a bunch of keys. Plante distributed the keys among his men. “Try them all through the building,” he ordered.

Five minutes later one of the officers came running up from the second floor. The key had opened the apartment below, which turned out to be the real book, complete with telephones, ticker tape, boards and adding machines. The third-floor location was simply a front maintained for phony raids.

Plante sent all the found-ins to I headquarters for photographing and fingerprinting, two unheard-of practices. Then he called in a wrecking \çrew, and as reporters looked on he had the whole establishment dismantled for evidence.

A Plot to Run Him Down

The raid at 1455T?le.ury had established a few precedents. ■'Jia ids previously had been conducted Against forty-five different apartment numbers at that address. Plante made his caseJ the first one, against the street number and succeeded in closing the whole building.

The real keeper, Silverberg, had been arrested for the first time. Bail was set by Chief Recorder Thouin at $1,000 instead of the customary $200. The found-ins had been photographed and fingerprinted, rendering them liable to a jail term for a second offense. And all the valuable equipment had been confiscated.

The underworld was not used to such treatment. An officer reported from an informer that there was a plan to run Plante down with a truck, it was six years later that Plante learned from Louis Bereovitch, the convicted and jailed killer of Harry Davis, that unnamed mobsters had decided to try to run him down in the narrow lane beside Gratiën Gelinas’ studio off St. Denis Street. The notorious Johnny Young, first Canadian to be sentenced to life as an habitual criminal, later confessed to Plante that he had been given the task of wiring an explosive charge to the starter in Plante’s cruiser. Neither of these plots was ever put into effect, but one Saturday evening on returning to his summer camp near Boucherville from Montreal, Plante got out of his car and started to walk around it into the headlights when two sharp reports sent him ducking for cover as two bullets whizzed over his head. Before Plante could get to his feet he heard the roar of a powerful motor and a car vanished down the Montreal highway.

Plante soon learned his campaign was not popular with certain civicofficials. Two different aldermen told him bluntly that he would not be long at his job. One member of the city’s Executive Committee had a long talk with Plante. He said that Plante had the wrong notion if he thought his bosses

Plante walked into the headlights. He heard two shots and ducked for cover

were against him. On the contrary, they wanted to keep him for he was the man to restore the situation to what it should be. It had gotten out of hand. Instead of forty or fifty bookies there were more than a hundred, and the same was true of barbotte, a Montreal dice game. The underworld was dictating to City Hall. He said: “You are the man we need

to reduce these numbers to normal.”

Plante asked him: “Which do I raid and which do I allow to remain open? Who decides?”

The committee member shrugged his shoulders. Plante was not co-operating. “You don’t realize the money you are losing by your attitude,” he said. “Think it over.”

Plante told him: “It is impossible

to have half a cleanup. The moment you compromise with crooks you are in their power.”

He felt he could ignore these first efforts at pressure and intimidation for he had the Press solidly behind him in his campaign, and the powerful Action Catholique had supported him from the start. Moreover, an apparent attempt to embarrass him had rebounded in a happy way when Recorder Leonce Plante had declared to newspapermen one morning: “Pax

Plante is making a lot of raids on gambling houses and bookies. Will you go and ask him why he does not raid the church bingos. They are against the law.”

Plante went to Director Dufresne. “You see, it starts,” the chief chided him. “What are you going to do?”

Plante said that bingos were illegal and they would have to stop.

“You’d better see the Archbishop,” Dufrespe warned him. Plante said he would, àîîd he called Archbishop Charbonneau at once asking for an immediate appointment.

This was granted, and in a few minutes Plante was "lit the Archbishop’s Palace. He told his story.

The Archbishop said: “You know,

Mr. Plante, that the Archbishop has always been against bingos Those that operate them do so against' my oftenexpressed prohibition.”

Plante continued: “I cannot wage

a successful campaign against gambling if they continue. I will apply the law.”

“Are you going to arrest sofríe of my priests?” the Archbishop asked.

“I have called a press conferencé'for one o’clock. I will give a very clëpr warning to everybody concerned. May I say that 1 have your backing?” Plante replied.

“Definitely,” said the Archbishop.

Plante issued his warning. Ther-? were forty-eight church bingos running regularly at the time, of which one' alone had cleared $40,000 in a single-1 year. They all closed within the week» without the necessity of a single raid» Only one curé showed any defiance, i

In his main sermon the following Sunday he declared: “Next Saturday

night we will have the bigges^/ bing/>> ev(?r held in this church. I will he thAre and my priests will be there. I incite all my wardens to be present. t is not a small lawyer from St. James Street who will dictate to me.”

Plante heard of this on Monday. On Saturday night he drove up outside the church hall with a group of officers. He watched the parishioners flocking into the church hall, about G500 strong. He sat in the car and sweated. Then he called for the three' largest Black Marias in the police department and instructed that they proceed to the church slowly, but with bells clanging. A few minutes later the wagons appeared and some youngsters spotted them as they came up to the church. They rushed into the church hall and announced that the police vans were arriving.

Plante sat back in his squad car and watched a most amazing exodus from that church hall. Within a few minutes the place was empty, except for the curé and his priests, left alone in the big hall. There was no bingo that night, nor did the game re-open later.

Plante soon afterwards raided a swank Milton Street call house and thereby won for himself the active enmity of an important city official who was known to be the personal protector of the establishment. According to Plante, this official called him into his office and said: “You know I have a personal interest in that place. Furthermore, I am told that you had given orders to arrest me if I had been found there. Is that true?” Plante agreed that he had instructed the officers to arrest everyone on the premises no matter how high their rank. “Get out of my office!” the official stormed.

Plante’s biggest case was made against Montreal’s top gambler, Harry Ship. He had been making his cases against the real keepers of gambling joints in contrast to the old system of accepting stooges for the charges, but the big keepers proved elusive. One day Plante received a tip that a big hut exclusive new book was operating on the site of an old and oft-raided horse parlor. Pelletier’s place at 1976 St. Catherine St. East. Gathering his squad, he made an immediate raid and when his men were refused entry he ordered that the door be smashed in. Inside he found an elaborate bookie setup and about two dozen prosperouslooking characters gathered in front of the ticker tape. One of them was Harry Ship, Montreal’s celebrated “boy plunger.”

Plante promptly arrested Ship and sent him to police headquarters. He warned the officers accompanying Ship: “Don’t let this man out without an order from the judge, and ask the judge to get in touch with me before granting bail.”

But Ship was released on bail. He made the prediction to newsmen that within two weeks nobody would remember Pax Plante’s name. It was a challenge Pax Plante promptly accepted .

Plante had been furious about Ship’s prompt release on bail and said so openly. He felt, and he still feels, that if Ship had not obtained a quick opportunity to put his affairs in order Plante might have been able to uncover the whole bookkeeping of protection. As it was he uncovered enough to reveal that vice was a major business in Montreal, and he succeeded in sending Ship to Bordeaux Jail for six months, the first, instance in Montreal’s recent history that a real keeper had been sentenced to jail.

The Ship case was Plante’s most spectacular effort while he was in charge of Montreal’s morality squad.

Meanwhile Police Director Dufresne turned in his resignation and retired on his director’s pension of about $8,000 per year. Temporarily, Assistant Director Charles Barnes took over.

Although Plante had his supporters for the job among city councilors he realized that a majority of the Executive Committee would not vote for his appointment as Dufresne’s successor. Another candidate, Albert Langlois, was mooted for the post. Langlois had an excellent war record, as a disciplinarian in the RCAF, and he was serving as assistant inspector in

the Montreal police force. Plante settled for what seemed a workable compromise. Up to this point he had simply been police attorney advising the morality squad. Now he asked for the post of Assistant Police Director in charge of morality. And he asked that his appointment predate that of the new director. Plante was appointed Assistant Director at a salary of $10,000 a year and then Langlois was appointed Police Director.

Although Plante was to remain eight months at his new post, which in fact only regularized the authority he al-

ready exercised, his feud with Langlois began almost at once. Early in their brief association Langlois came to regard Plante as a publicity seeker. Their tirst clash occurred quickly.

A boating acquaintance who. having been rebuffed when he tried to arrange a meeting between Plante and one of the leading racketeers, then tried to name Plante as corespondent in a divorce action against his wife. Though Plante was completely exonerated in court he accused Langlois of report ing the original story to the Archbishop of Montreal. The Archbishop ('on-

ducted his own investigation and came to the same conclusion as the court, thereby maintaining Church support behind Plante’s anti-vice campaign.

Plante found himself increasingly frustrated in the police department. He claimed that in spite of his request for new people on the morality squad to make cases against the Jast refuge of the retreating underworld, the chartered card clubs, he was told that none were available. His small squad of fifty wore soon known on sight to every racketeer in town, and t heir appearance at a chartered club was the signal for game.s to resume at the orthodox level in which the house is legally permitted to exact a small hourly fee for the use of tables and cards.

Plante considered that open warfare was declared by Langlois over the Fairmount Club. Plante had raided the place at two different addresses, forcing it to close on each occasion. It moved to a third address and Plante again prepared to makta case. In the middle of his preparations Langlois ordered officers from the detective bureau to raid the new place and arrest the found-ins. Some people took this

as an inference that Plante was allowing favored places to operate. But the Fairmount Club was again open for business the day following the Langlois raid. A week later Plante conducted his planned raid and secured the necessary evidence to put the place out. of operation for good. Thus in the long run it was Langlois not his assistant who lost face from the episode.

I he final showdown took place under obscure circumstances. 'Three members of the morality squad were giving evidence against a prostitute in Recorders Court and, under cross-ques-

tioning before Judge 1 rénée Lagarde, two of them admitted that they had slept with the girl charged. They admitted that it. was both unnecessary and against the orders of their superior officer. The judge immediately wrote to the Director of Police and released a copy of his letter to the Press, giving the names of t he officers involved.

When their case came before the disciplinary board of the police department, their superior officer, Lieut. Armand Courval, pointed out that the offense had been strictly against orders t but recommended some leniency in

view of the heavy punishment suffered by the men by the publication of their names in the Press. The homes of both had been broken up. Courval’s report was accepted without criticism by the disciplinary board, which included the senior members of the force, Plante among them. Langlois was not present.

Next day Langlois charged Courval with condoning the conduct of his constables. He instructed that this written charge be turned over to Plante so that Plante would hand it to Courval. Plante protested that Courval was innocent of any such charge and said that if the Police Director still wished to make it, Plante was not able to associate himself with it.

“All right,” said Langlois, “I'll have someone else deliver it.”

He pressed a buzzer on his desk. Assistant Director Belanger and Chief inspector Pleau walked into his office.

“Do you still refuse to carry out mv orders?” Langlois asked.

“I do,” Plante replied.

“Turn in your badge and gun,” Langlois demanded. “You are suspended.”

Plante’s case still had to be heard by the Executive Committee. He prepared for his defense with a 500page survey of vice conditions before and during his period of office. Langlois also made some preparations.

But Langlois really didn’t need such ammunition, for Plante’s fate was already settled. When the Executive Committee met to decide the issue, a majority had no hesitation in agreeing that Plante should be dismissed for insubordination. Executive Committee Chairman Asselin said: “It was the

most painful moment of my career.” But Alderman Richard Quinn thought “it was just a squabble between French Canadians.” One member of the Executive Committee said he hadn’t read Plante’s defense. He was too busy and it was too big a document. One said he had been laid up with a broken leg.

In dismissing Plante the committee termed him a lawyer who “lacks disciplinarian habits . . . He appears susceptible to being carried away by sudden impulses. An analysis of the present situation raises grave doubts as to the soundness of his judgment, if not to his veracity.”

Plante received the verdict with a certain fatalism. He knew that a majority had been opposed to his appointment as Police Director, and the intervening eight months had not made him any dearer to them. Plante was no fanatic, but his practical experience had confirmed his belief that it was impossible to have half a cleanup.

There was an outcry but it never became overwhelming. Elections for the Executive Committee were three years away. Too, Plante’s own personality and method of operation had something to do with the failure of effective support at this critical moment. Ever alert to attacks and overtures from the racket boys, he had been suspicious of every friendly gesture. One restaurant owner tells of Pax refusing the loan of a book. “He probably figured I had planted some money in the pages,” he guessed. But it, had actually happened that another restaurant owner had tried to press a gift package of cigarettes on Pax. Plante noted that the seal was broken and quickly inspected the package. He found a roll of bills inside and threw the package, contents and all, into t he face of the proprietor.

Plante’s brusque rejection of all friendly overtures, even including some that were genuine and honest, alienated many people, and his spectacular methods of operation made others feel that he was preparing to use his position for political purposes. Finally, it seemed to many that he had accomplished his purpose, and since he was unprepared to come to terms with the new Police Director, against whom there were as yet no charges of toleration of vice, he had got what was coming to him.

Plante soon saw that in spite of strong editorial support from the English newspapers and Le Devoir in particular, the decision of the Executive Committee would stand. His wife, from whom he had been separated for some time, happened, through an unhappy coincidence, to choose this time to file suit to make the separation legal. Plante felt that he had been let down on all sides. Hé sold his Boucherville camp and his boat, bought a car and set out to see Canada and forget his defeat.

He toyed with the idea of politics. While in Vancouver he received a message to return to Montreal via Ottawa. A Montreal newspaper publisher was trying to find a role for him in the Quebec Liberal Party. Curious, Plante went to Ottawa, but he quickly learned there that, although the federal Liberals looked upon him with favor, Montreal Liberals wanted no part of him. Montreal’s civic administration is traditionally dominated by the Liberals. Plante thanked his sponsor and went on to Montreal.

There he found it was beginning to be like old times again. The racket boys were already starting to open up again at the old stands. Bookies and barbottes and prostitutes were doing business.

A Frightening Picture of Vice

The newspapers were soon in print with documentary and photographicevidence of the return of vice. Langlois was censured by the Executive Committee. He replaced his new morality squad chief and a few quick arrests followed. Vice subsided again.

But Plante had not subsided. Soon his historic articles in Le Devoir began to appear. When they were reprinted in book form councilor Pierre Des Marais, who had been one of Plante’s strongest supporters, took the first copy of the book fresh from the presses and placed it before the City Council. “I refuse to vote a single cent of the ten million appropriation asked for the Police Department unless you investigate these charges or sue Plante,” he challenged.

The 96-page accusation, drawn almost exclusively from police records, painted a frightening picture of vice in Montreal between the years 1940 and 1950. In it Plante specifically accused the police, who were later to face the same charges in the vice probe, of having tolerated this state of affairs both before his brief appearance on the scene and afterwards. He accused both Albert Langlois and Executive Committee Chairman Asselin of being among those responsible for the situation.

Plante pointed out in his book that the conditions which had existed prior to his term at the head of the morality squad were in the process of being restored upon his dismissal. He named all the old familiar spots with all (he old familiar names of tenants and owners. “The farce begins again,” he observed.

Then he gave a detailed explanation of just how the vice ring operated; the whole pattern stemmed from the

In a comedy of padlocks the policemen locked cupboards and even blank w alls

bookies who, because of the particular needs of their occupation and their basis as a common meeting ground, usually furnished the “edge-man.” The job of the “edge-man” was to arrange toleration for the activities of all bookies, gambling houses and houses of prostitution which the usually unknown higher-ups wished to have in operation. Plante named four former “edge-men” including the late Harry Davis ancj speculated on the possibility of Harry Ship falling heir to the throne. He recalled a conversation with former Police Director Dufresne in which the latter predicted “no matter what you do to Ship he will become boss of the rackets.”

Then he listed the six privileges essential to the operation of illegal establishments. These were:

1. To be warned of a raid in advance.

2. To be sure that, the police would not arrest the real operators.

3. To be sure that the police would not interfere with operations by removing live telephones or ticker tapes.

4. To be sure that no serious proof would be made in the form of fingerprinting and photographing, which would require a jail sentence instead of a fine.

5. To be sure that no gambling equipment would be damaged or removed and no money seized. (It was later shown that seizures averaged fifty cents a raid.)

6. To be sure that the police would accept a fictitious address for padlocking purposes.

Plante showed this system in operation by examining the record of Harry Ship. Before Plante finally sent him to jail, seventy-six raids had been made on Ship’s bookie premises in six years and seventy-six convictions had been registered. Not one of these was against Ship himself although he openly paid the city bills for the establishment, which was listed in his name.

Plante traced this same record of immunity for the real operators of some sixty other bookie establishments which had some 5,000 convictions against them carrying nominal fines. In no case had the police attempted to bring up the previous record of convictions when the charges were heard in court. One place, the headquarters of a former “edge-man,” actually paid rent to the City of Montreal.

Plante outlined the system of protection and toleration with regard to barbotte and lotteries. He exposed the “comedy of padlocks” in which police officers solemnly padlocked doors to cupboards and even doors placed against blank walls, in accordance with court instructions which, in turn, were based upon the information supplied by the raiding officers.

He did an equally thorough job of surveying the houses of prostitution, from the swankiest establishments in the West End to the streets that had been lined with brothels, like De Bullion and St. Dominique. He named the leading madams in the racket: Ma-

dame Emile Beauchamp, whom he called “Queen of the Brothels, Friend of the Police,” Ida Katz and Lucie Bizante. He went into the curious case of Madame Bizante, who through some strange oversight, was actually accused of operating a hrothel. The police suddenly returned the seized evidence, and there was no case.

Plante outlined how the houses of prostitution had operated unchecked during the first four years of the war, providing an estimated forty percent of all venereal disease contracted by Canadian Army personnel. Then on Feb. 2, 1944, when the Army threatened to place Montreal out of bounds unless the city acted, the brothels closed up overnight. Only a clearly established system of protection and its withdrawal could have made such a mass closure possible, Plante pointed out.

However, if prostitution suffered a temporary setback as a casualty of war, the other branches of vice flourished more briskly, and Plante listed the increase in number of token raids over the next few years.

Plante outlined his reasons for believing that the law could be applied providing he was given a free hand. He told of his interview with former Police Director Dufresne and Dufresne’s scepticism. He disputed Dufresne’s contention that the blame rested with the judges of Recorders Court. Plante said no attempt had ever been made by the police to present full cases that would have involved effective sentences. He gave the names of some forty-six racketeers, all of them at I berty.

How They Protected Vice

Plante’s indictment was received in an uneasy silence. True, Le Devoir had added another 5,000 to its circulation and the book sold out its 15,000 copies quickly. But no one took action against Plante, and no one protested that he had wronged them. Accusations of this nature, if they could be proved wrong, would leave Plante, Le Devoir and printer Pierre Des Marais open to heavy damages, with jail sentences on default of payment, but nobody wanted to try for the jack pot.

Plante had meticulously prepared his charges to stand up in a court action which he eagerly sought.

Plante now estimates that the preparation of his charges represented two years of work. He was confident of his ground, and no one challenged him.

It was his move again and now he had no shortage of help. On May 17, 1950, seventy-four citizens of Montreal filed a petition for a probe of vice conditions in Montreal between the years 1940 and 1950. The petition contained 15,000 specific charges against sixty-two members of the City Council and officers of the Montreal Police Department. It was heard before Chief Justice O. S. Tyndale and it was sponsored by the Montreal Public Morality Committee. Leading members of this committee were Pierre Des Marais, for ten years leader of the City Council, city councilor Dr. Ruben Levesque, F. A. Senecal, president of International Envelopes Limited, and J. W. Jette, president of a large plumbing firm.

The brief was 1,100 pages in length and it was presented by lawyers Plante and Jean Drapeau. All charges were based upon judiciary documents and centred around 400 disorderly and gambling houses. A list of more than 1,000 witnesses had been prepared. The petition specifically stated that civic officials “have maintained a system of tolerance and protection of organized vice, a system which required the conscious and deliberate complicity of officers and of the Police Department, and members of the City Council.” There was no direct accusation of graft, an extremely difficult charge to prove.

On May 31, two weeks later, Chief Justice Tyndale ordered a judiciary probe into charges of malfeasance and corruption. He set the date of Sept. 4 for the commencement of the sittings and he named Mr. Justice Caron as the presiding judge.

The appointment of Mr. Justice

Caron indicated how seriously the probe was regarded by Chief Justice Tyndale. Caron, a tiny, sharp-minded, caustic dynamo of a man, had cleaned up Hull. Those who knew him from his conduct of the Hull investigation into charges of municipal corruption realized that Montreal’s dirty linen was in for a thorough airing.

To no one’s surprise there was a firm determination on the part of some of the accused to permit no such thing, and for the next two years the course of the probe was strewn with every variety of legal obstacle the fertile minds of a battery of skilled defense lawyers could devise. Five times issues were taken to the Quebec Court of Appeal, and in each instance the probe judge was sustained. Twice a group of defendants succeeded in having writs of prohibition executed to suspend the probe altogether. In each case they carried the fight through to the Supreme Court of Canada, in each instance meeting with resounding defeat in every court to which they appealed. The second writ of prohibition drew an unprecedented blast from Supreme Court Chief Justice Thibaudeau Rinfret, who denounced “voluntary hindering” of the probe in strong words:

“This enquiry is of the highest interest for the public. It is evident— it could not be more evident—that procedures have been taken to hinder the probe.

“The Supreme Court knows it—all Montreal knows it—and I might probably add that all Canada knows it.

“The second writ of prohibition was granted on a Saturday afternoon when everybody knows that courts are not functioning, except the judge who was waiting to issue the writ. (It was Judge Louis Cousineau who issued the writ.)

“This Court is unanimous in its opinion that the procedure was an abuse of the machinery of justice.”

The delaying tactics succeeded in stretching out the probe for three years, and it ran the costs into astronomical figures. The grand total is beyond computation. Some idea of what this total might be can be estimated from the fact that about a month after the probe had started attorney Ubald Boisvert, representing a group of the accused, stated that his costs to that date were $70,000. A common estimate of the cost to the City of Montreal alone is half a million dollars.

As the enquiry got underway between appeals, Plante drew first blood in an exchange with Edouard Masson QC, who appeared in the early stages as one of the two counsels for the City of Montreal. Masson suggested that if Plante were sufficiently versed in law he would know that he could quickly establish ownership of the premises under question simply by calling the individuals listed in the city rolls as proprietors. Plante elaborately thanked Masson for his lesson in law and said that he hoped to be able to call Mrs. Germaine Smith, maiden name of the wife of Edouard Masson QC, to give evidence on the ownership of the property at 1455 Bleury Street, listed in her name.

As the probe entered its second week, Plante pointed out that the records showed there was no variation in the mechanics of protection; raids were made but there were no arrests of real keepers, nothing was seized, no real case was made. “Look at any file,” he

J~()1• the pt'()bC face(1 every le~aI obstacle ski lied lawvcrs could devise

said, “you will find it is always the same. Disorderly houses always had two doors, sometimes five or six. But only one door is raided at a time.”

A procession of landlords and administrators of buildings used as disorderly houses appeared before the court. Generally they were co-operative. John P. Rowat, notary and member of the City Council, was the administrator for a mortgage company that held a property on 362 Notre Dame West. He admitted that he had received several notices from the police advising that the premises were being used for illegal purposes. He informed his client but did nothing else, although the question was being debated in the City Council.

The judge asked him: “That is the way you felt about your duty as a city alderman?”

Rowat replied: “That is the way I felt.”

Henri Forgues, manager and heir of the late Madame Beauchamp, told how, when a lower floor of one brothel was padlocked, cutting off access to the furnace, he would call the police and have the padlock removed while he stoked the furnace to bring heat to the shivering prostitutes on the second floor. The police officer would then replace the padlock.

“You could certainly call that ‘Service of the Police,’ ” the judge sardonically observed.

The testimony all had a similar pattern. Edouard Masson QC, admitted he charged as much rent for the disorderly house at 1455 Bleury Street as the traffic would bear. After fortysix such witnesses the judge stopped the procession. “I have heard enough. The point is established.”

He Locked the Wrong Door

Next came a stream of officers and constables who were connected with the prosecution of disorderly houses but who were not accused in the probe petition. When the judge indicated that he had heard enough constables, lieutenants and captains were called. One of them, Captain Hugh McCoy, admitted that morality work was “dirty work from start to finish.” He was asked:

“Would it have been difficult to close the houses?”

“No. They could have been closed in forty-eight hours.”

“Why didn’t you do it?”

There was no answer.

The judge persisted: “Were you


McCoy replied: “No, but I could feel it in my bones.”

Plante pressed the question: “Why did you feel that?”

McCoy turned to him: “Mr. Plante, you should be the last one to ask me that. Look what happened to you.”

Former Captain Darius Grignon testified that he had been fired because he had padlocked the wrong door of a bookie in 1944. He had locked the main outside door which shut off access to the boon instead of a conveniently useless inside door as was the custom. Within two hours he was requested to hand in his resignation for failing to carry out a court order.

After hearing eighty-one of some 500 constables and officers on the petitioners’ list, the judge declared that he needn’t call the rest. The pattern was clearly established. Most constables agreed that it was easy to locate the brothels and gambling joints. They reported them every week in writing to their captains, giving the exact locations. They were never asked to find out the names of owners and operators. The reports always said: “Keeper unknown.”

The testimony of lieutenants and captains was the same. They knew the locations. McCoy spoke for them all when he said: “They could not operate for two weeks without our knowledge.”

Testimony of “strawmen” and croupiers, reluctantly given, filled out the picture of the “comedy.” Barney Shulkin admitted that he had been arrested “several times” as the keeper of a betting house. The court record revealed that “several times” meant 102 times. He had never been sent to jail. Plante estimated that had the law been properly applied Shulkin would have served a total of forty years.

Paulette’s Police Record

The largest audiences for the probe proceedings were attracted by the appearance of ex-prostitutes, who testified that the ownership of the brothels was no secret. The girls worked on a 50-50 basis with the brothel owners and out of their half they had to pay their share of the fines. Nine girls were called and their stories were pretty much identical. One told of leaving the house after her shift was over at Madame Bizante’s, only to be called back to stand in as keeper for a raid.

Another, Paulette Dery, added a demimonde social note when she said that prostitutes arrested in swank Guy Street locations dressed no better than their lower-class sisters who operated in the district below St. Catherine Street. Some of the owners were very fond of their girls. One, Madame Lucie, had even given a reception in her own Outremont home when one of the girls got married. Paulette was confronted with a record of hundreds of arrests. The judge said: “You were very unlucky. How was it that you were arrested so often?”

Paulette explained: “Often Madame Beauchamp would send me to a place to replace a sick keeper, and then there would be a raid.”

A number of real keepers were called to the stand. Madame Blanche testified that bawdy houses were so plentiful that she had a hard time at first making a go of her business. There was too much competition. The judge asked her: “What kind of a place did you run?” She replied with evident pride: “A very good house. We never opened on Good Friday.”

Joseph Pervin, a bookmaker, admitted that his house had been raided “so many times that I couldn’t possibly remember.” Fie had never been convicted, and he had never heard of any other real bookies who had been convicted. A 25-percent partner of bookmaker Max Shapiro, he denied paying any graft. At the time Pervin was questioned the booking premises were closed and the judge asked: “Why do you continue to pay such high rents for empty space?”

Pervin replied: “The weather may change.”

Jack Nish told how he had worked

first at 10 Ontario Street West, the wire service and nerve centre of the books. Then he decided to open a small service himself, so he located in an obscure back alley and was raided within a week. All his equipment was seized and he was jailed. So he went back to work at 10 Ontario West, where everything was under control.

The big names of the underworld began to appear. Ludger Audet admitted that he operated three main books and when he was asked, “How did you operate without police interference?” he replied calmly: “Ask the police.” He and all the other racketeers who followed him virtuously denied paying for protection. Max Shapiro, by common consent the largest operator of them all, admitted having an exclusive book in an office in the Drummond Building and an interest in a swank gambling spot on Peel Street , The Wheel, as well as other spots.

It was at this point, after a large number of witnesses had pieced together the whole pattern of toleration of Montreal’s organized vice but with key witnesses still to be heard, that the defense launched its strongest attack on the very existence of the probe. There had been constant skirmishes. The question of stenographers’ fees for recording the voluminous evidence had been a sore spot between the city administration and the judge. The judge had clashed sharply with Police Director Langlois when he learned that the latter was instructing testifying police officers to interview his own lawyer first.

Now a new diversion was attempted when a notice was served of a request to ask permission to open a new probe to investigate the conduct of Pacifique Plante, Sergeant Armand Courval (he had been demoted after the dismissal of Plante), Sergeant André Guellette and Roger Latremouille, key men in Plante’s vice squad. The petition, entered by a group of private citizens who had no visible connection with the accused in the main probe, charged Plante and his staff with collecting graft from prostitutes and gambling houses. This petition was speedily dismissed by Mr. Justice Tyndale, who stated: “It would be unreasonable, not to say absurd, to have two such investigations proceeding at the same time, particularly when there is another and more appropriate remedy for the second.” The petitioners did not avail themselves of Mr. Justice Tyndale’s suggestion that they bring their charges before the first probe.

At the same time, the first writ of prohibition was issued by Judge Cousineau. It accused Mr. Justice Caron of being partial, exceeding his jurisdiction and acting as a complainant and judge at the same time. The Superior Court promptly quashed this writ, and it went through the mill of appeal. Immediately after the Supreme Court of Canada had rejected it with costs, as it had been rejected in the Quebec Court of Appeal, Judge Cousineau granted a second writ of prohibition. This also was overruled in the appeal courts, but the actions had gained the defense a year of delay.

The probe resumed on July 6, 1952, after having been stalled since May of 1951.

Plante continued to conduct most of the examinations in person.

George Samson admitted that he had operated a gambling joint at 6696 St. André. Seventeen complaints were filed against him after Plante had been dismissed from the police force. Not a single case had been made. Harry Ship took the stand. A former Queen’s man who hadn’t graduated, he admitted readily that he could not operate a book without the toleration of the police. He sketched his own career.

He had started as a bookmaker in 1940. Before that he had worked as a bookmaker’s clerk and in a barbotte joint on St. Catherine Street. At twenty-two he opened his own book at 906 St. Catherine East. When his book was raided the book handed over bail money on the spot for house employees and found-ins. Ship testified he had never been given a receipt for bail money and that the raiding squad always left at least one telephone behind. In some raids no telephones were touched. The ticker tape that supplied results and prices was never touched.

“Too valuable, I suppose,” commented the judge.

“Probably,” agreed Ship amiably.

“So the Bell Telephone, the CPR and the CNR were all in with this betting business in order to make money,” the judge observed sharply.

Later, a Bell Telephone official, William G. Bell, explained some of the difficulties communications systems face in defending themselves against such charges. He testified that his company had co-operated with the police and that in raids on 153 premises phones were seized in only four. “We could not disconnect or refuse telephones on doubts, only convictions,” said Bell. “We could not function as a court of law.”

Ship explained he took bets on anything —hockey, baseball, football, elections. Like all the other brothel, book and gambling-house proprietors who appeared, he denied paying protection money as such, but he did admit that he benefited from toleration.

“What form would the toleration take?” asked the judge.

“To pinch you just enough and not to break you—to leave you a little surplus—the fines we paid took care of the Police Department, salaries, or a large part of them, and the city coffers were getting fat. I think that’s why we were tolerated.”

After each raid on his betting house Ship said he ordered the apartment number on the door changed because he knew that any given address raided twice in a one-year period was subject to padlocking. His place was raided by Montreal police thirty-four times between 1940 and 1946, with forty-two similar visits from the Provincial Police.

“The police raided forty-four different apartments in a space of three feet by forty feet,” added Pacifique Plante.

Ship’s testimony had pretty well summed up that of the other keepers. They had never been arrested. They put up bail and paid the fines for all customers arrested on their premises. They considered themselves a legitimate business. (Ship even had pencils with his name and phone number stamped on them.) They made no attempt to hide. And theirs was a very big business.

Eighteen city councilors appeared as witnesses. In general their stories were similar. They had received complaints from their constituents, who often accused them of being in the rackets because of the open way the disorderly houses operated in their districts. They turned these complaints in to the Executive Committee and the Director of Police with no effective results.

Councilor Frank Hanley cut an unhappy figure. He said that he had never heard of disorderly houses in his district, which included the heart of the red-light area. Observed Mr. Justice Caron: “It’s your oath and not mine, and I’m very glad it’s not mine.” Hanley further told an incredulous court that though he had been in politics since the tender age of twelve

he had never heard of more than one or two gambling places. He didn’t know whether barbotte was played with cards or dice.

“Did you think it was played with a skipping rope?” asked the judge in disgust.

Former Council leader Pierre Des Marais, a strong Plante supporter, testified that he had been offered $100 a week to stop complaining about a gambling joint at 356 Mount Royal East. The offer, he said, had been made by another city councilor.

Councilor Edmond Allan, who was a former police officer, testified that in 1945, following particularly bitter Press criticism of the vice situation in Montreal, a special caucus of city aldermen had been held to give Police Director Dufresne an opportunity for explanation. Dufresne talked for three hours and then asked for questions. Allan got up and asked him why his moralitysquad officers arrested only a handful of the found-ins and let the others go. Dufresne had replied: “If you don’t sit down, I’ll turn up your record on the force.”

Allan told the court: “I was so flabbergasted that, though I had nothing to hide, I sat down. 1 knew what they could do to the records, too.”

To show that the vice situation was public knowledge some twenty-five newspapermen were called to identify 500 newspaper articles, editorials and cartoons dealing with the vice situation in Montreal over the period covered by the probe. A number of those who covered City Hall said that they received $1,200 a year from the city, although one, Tracy Ludington, of the Gazette, said that his newspaper returned the payment to City Hall. City Hall attorney Rodolph Codin said he had once been offered a bribe of $50 a week by Police Captain Arthur Taché to help persons accused of operating illegal establishments. He said he had reported the offer to Police Director Dufresne hut had refused to make a written accusation. “I am neither an informer nor a constable,” he explained.

The Police Were Prosperous

Police prosecutor Albert Berthiaume Siiid that he had never received instructions to explain to the Recorders Court judges how the gambling houses and brothels were making a farce of padlocking to trick the police. Plante pointed out that among the owners of gambling spots and brothels were a trust company, a bank, a city councilor and even a physician who had formerly been in charge of contagious-diseases prevention in the City Health Department.

A former chief of the morality squad, Captain Arthur Taché, gave a picture of sudden prosperity. In 1947, after leaving the police force, he paid $10,000 in cash for an apartment house. Taché said that this and other funds represented the savings of thirty-three years. He had received $3,000 a year as a captain but he had worked in his spare time washing walls and ceilings. The only person whose name he offered as one who employed him in this capacity appeared in court later and denied that Taché had ever worked for him in that capacity.

Taché’s sister-in-law, a Mrs. Amyot, from whom he had purchased the apartment with cash, was called and asked: “Weren’t you surprised to rereive payment in cash like that?”

“No,” she told the court. “I am used to seeing money in large quantities. I used to gamble at The Wheel.”

The court asked her: “You were gambling at The Wheel while your brother-in-law was captain of the morality squad. Weren’t you afraid of being arrested?”

She laughed, and replied “No.”

Former Police Director Dufresne testified over a period of days. At the beginning he announced that he had complete confidence in the men surrounding him when he was Director of Police. Then he went on to say: “I was like a squirrel in a cage running and

getting nowhere. I was surrounded by a wall that was like rubber. It escaped me when I tried to touch it.”

He said that until 1940 city councilors had the right to appoint two constables each time the force was expanded, and only seventh-grade education was required. He faced disloyalty among top-ranking executives. There were special difficulties in the morality squad, where very few men lasted more than six months because their wives complained that they came home late at night smelling of liquor and cursed the children.

Dufresne pleaded that the police had been undermanned during his term of office. In 1940 there were 200 day beats and 150 night beats that were unmanned. He estimated that 849 more men were needed at that time. His inability to crack down, he contended, stemmed also from the lack of severity in Recorders Court judgments. But he admitted cynicism toward vice. Low morale and lack of pride in the force were apparently exhibited in all ranks of the Police Department for fifteen years without his knowledge. He had never once called a conference of his police captains to discuss morality in the city.

Director Albert Langlois made his appearance later to defend himself against charges of laxity and incidentally to discuss his vexed relations with Plante. Langlois said that he objected to a photo of a barbotte game which had appeared in the Press with Plante’s co-operation. It was pointed out by Plante’s assistant, Drapeau, that the photo had been authorized by Acting Chief Barnes before Plante had taken over the vice squad and while Langlois was still at No. 4 Station. Wherever else it failed to agree, the testimony of Langlois and the questions of Plante made one thing clear: temperamentally the two men were simply incapable of getting along with each other.

Jean Dreapeau finally summed up for the petitioners. He declared that witnesses had made thousands of false statements. Only three of the witnesses called had failed to appear. One had died, a second had fled to Flu rope and the third was in hiding, address unknown. He contended that gambling houses had operated like legitimate business, organized as closed corporations, and paid business taxes in the form of fines. The city had ignored an earlier report which had named twentythree brothels as sources of infection; one of these was only 300 feet from a police station. Figures indicated that

Now Plante knew that an honest man can beat a bunch of crooks — if lie's tough

some 3,800.000 people visited illegal establishments in Montreal each year—

roughly three times the population of

the city, There were some incredulous gasps at this point, but Mr. Justice Caron interjected: “You forget. Mr. Drapeau, that in the brothels the girls worked in shifts. That last figure can be raised considerably.”

The probe had set a record in Canadian jurisprudence for length, the number of important decisions involved, the number of witnesses, the volume of testimony and the obstacles encountered in bringing the probe to its conclusion. Sifting through its millions of words was to take Mr. Justice Caron another eighteen months of almost constant night-and-day work.

When he brought down his judgment it was clear to him that the main con tentions of Plante and the petitioners ¡ were true; a pattern of tolerance had been established.

Plante and Urapeau had spoken; so | had the court. Now it was up to the public. On Oct. 26 t he average citizen’s ! voice shook the underworld. A land| slide reform vote swept Drapeau, at j 38 the youngest of nine candidates, into office as mayor, along with a majority of reform councilors. The underworld, which had fought a stubborn battle in the courts, waged a violent one at the polls, and there were pitched battles and gunfire. Drapeau’s committee rooms were w recked by gangs arr ed with baseball bats.

Nine Men to Guard Plante

The end result the vindication of the court and a powerful vote of confidence by their city—were the immediate rewards earned by Plante and Drapeau. They had taken on an incredible job of organization; the indexes that Plante alone brought to court each day had consisted of four big boxes of loose-leaf sheets. Though Drapeau had been a powerful assistant, Plante had had to carry the main load. Public subscript ion had met most of the expenses of the petitioners. Plante himself got financial support from his relatives.

Plante had lived under great tension throughout the proceedings. He had asked for a policeman to go with him from his office to his home each night. Langlois put nine men on three eighthour shifts to guard him. In six months their wage bill cost the taxpayers $26,000.

Plante suspected their real job was to spy on him. When he had confidential visitors he made his police guard turn their backs to prevent identification and kept the guards in his office long enough after the visitors left to forestall possible shadowing. Plante’s danger from the underworld was taken so much for granted in Montreal that in the autumn of 1953, after the probe had ended, the discovery of a headless corpse in a city alley caused a flood of enquiring phone calls at Plante’s home and office. He had to return from the country and show himself at newspaper offices to kill the rumor that he had been murdered.

The probe verdict - and the subsequent violent response of Montreal’s voters to it—established for Plante a point he had often wondered about. It proved that an honest man can beat a bunch of crooks, if lie’s tough enough.

Six years of roughhouse fighting have hardened and sharpened him. During the longest adjournment of the probe he decided to have a look at nearby Ville St. Michel’s politics on election day and he landed in jail on order of the since-deposed mayor. Plante claimed an attempt was made to plant a revolver on him as justification for the arrest. He waded into that side issue as cheerfully as he had exchanged punches with Montreal’s underworld and their police cohorts. He won a criminal case against the policeman who claimed to have found a gun on him; the cop got six months in jail for perjury. Now Plante is suing I ex-Mayor Charles Lafontaine and the I city of St. Michel for $25,000 damages before the Quebec Superior Court.

But Plante is not a born scrapper. He just can’t stand a mess. When the Yille St. Michel police searched him they found a list of girls’ names in his wallet. It looked as though they might have uncovered Plante’s love life. But the girls all had the same address. It was the address of a hospital for destitute crippled children, for whose inmates he had been buying presents.

Plante always liked company. Fie takes an occasional drink of liquor or good wine but one is usually bis limit. He likes the company of pretty women, too, but as soon as he took on the job of public prosecutor of organized vice in Montreal he knew that even the most innocent friendships might provide ammunition for his enemies.

During the probe sittings he pleaded in court all day and spent his nights preparing for the following court sessions. Boating is his favorite hobby and over the last few summers he has converted a cousin’s Nova Scotia fishing boat into a cruiser similar to one he used to own himself. Last year, along with Pierre Des Marais Jr., he cruised to New York in it. His second great hobby is building, and he is good at it. He likes to repeat the remark of one womfin who disapproved of his vice cleanup: “I don’t think much of you as a reformer, but you’re a fine carpenter.”

He has kept himself in good physical shape. The only signs of the last six years of struggle are a pronounced silvering of his hair at the temples and a quieter, less cocksure manner. The police bodyguard that Langlois attached to him at the beginning of the probe learned that Plante kept himself in good trim. They had trouble keeping pace with him when he walked from his office in St. James Street to Fletcher’s Field, ten stiff uphill blocks, every night after finishing work around 11.30 p.m.

In the city he dresses soberly and tastefully. His horn-rimmed glasses have become almost a badge, often featured in photographs and cartoons. In the country he goes for plaid shirts and more casual garb, but he always manages to look well groomed. His passion for order, tidiness and the latest techniques are apparent in his sister’s camp on the Richelieu, which he is gradually converting into a comfortable year-round country house. His tastes are simple, but he likes “the best,” whether it is a saw for his work bench, a pair of deck shoes to wear on the cruiser or an electric heater for the I camp.

His capacity for work is almost frightening. Joseph Cohen, one of the { opposing lawyers in the recent probe, told him: “I wouldn’t have tackled that job for a million dollars.”

Fie still has strong beliefs. Fie says that the morality of a city is the face ot the city; it offers its citizens the surest way of judging the quality of its administration. “When the face is dirty,” he says sadly, “you don’t have to take off the shoes and socks to know J the feet are dirty too.” ^