City Manager Vouches For Chief's Character

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 16:41 PM

The obstruction of justice and breach of trust trial for suspended Police Chief JP Levesque continues to hear from a variety of witnesses. 

Wednesday afternoon it was City Manager Norm Gale's turn.  

Gale recounted his memories of a conversation with Chief Levesque about Mayor Hobbs extortion investigation in December of 2016. 

The City Manager said that Levesque informed him that there was an allegation of extortion against the Mayor and he was advising Gale as a form of risk management for the City. 

Gale said he knew it was a very sensitive manner and the tone of the conversation was sombre and serious. 

He added the Chief did not ask him to do anything after the conversation;  it was more of a heads up.  "In my mind I thought of what I have to do as a City Manager and what I can do as an act of risk management." 

"I knew that there was conflict between the Mayor and Mr. Zaitzeff. The Mayor told me this himself, I didn't get too many specifics."

Gale added that he didn't speak with Mayor Hobbs about the extortion allegation after being briefed by Levesque. 

Levesque's lawyer Brian Gover then asked Gale if it was important for him to see things coming.

Gale answered yes,  so I'm not caught off guard.

Gover stated to Gale that in the past they had shared confidential information with each other  and that Gale didn't see anything wrong with that since it pertained to the City.

Gale said that the Chief told him that he was deciding on how to deal with the extortion case and that it seemed like it would not be handled by the Thunder Bay Police Service.

Gale added "I remember thinking to myself, this is going to the OPP."  

Gover then asked Gale if it's extremly unusual to have a Mayor charged with a crime and he answered yes in my experience, that is unusual. 

Gale again reiterated that there was no doubt that the conversation was sensitive and confidential and was between two of the most senior non-elected officials in the City. 

He said it didn't occur to him that there may be a problem with the conversation since he appreciated having the information so he could see problems that might arise from the Hobbs extortion investigation.  He added he didn't want to be caught off guard. 

Gale also told the Chief and the Deputy about information the Mayor had imparted to him.  He told them that Hobbs said that Mr. Zaitzeff was coming after him for retribution for the viral video posted on YouTube. 

Gover then asked Gale if he remembered telling Levesque "Holy smokes, Keith Hobbs is telling me he's the one being extorted." 

Gale responded that he wasn't sure if he used those words but the relationship between the Mayor and Zaitzeff was full of conflict with lawsuits between the two. 

Hobbs  had apparently told Gale that he was just helping two people out in the Zaitzeff case.

Gale testified that he's known Levesque for some time, for at least two decades. 

He says that Levesque is well known in the community and his general reputation is stellar and beyond reproach for being honest and a man of integrity. 

Gale said Levesque has "a terrific and strong reputation of always doing the right thing and working in the public's best interest."