Friday , January 15 2021

24 elected municipal officials who didn’t understand anything…

Most of these 24 elected officials have been found guilty under proceedings instituted by the Commission municipale du Québec or by the Chief Electoral Officer. They have been reprimanded, ranging from a simple warning to suspension. Others have had their fingers slapped on the wrist by the ministère des Affaires municipales.

Daniel Legault

Former City Councillor of L’Ascension (Laurentians)

In 2017, the former Ascension politician admitted to having committed no less than a dozen ethical breaches.

Daniel Legault admitted that he had attempted to obtain information on the non-compliance of his personal property with the water system and that he had dealt with this issue at a municipal council meeting between November 2015 and February 2016.

During the same period, he tried to act in a way that favoured his spouse (who worked for the municipality), used his position to try to obtain confidential information in the file of a municipal employee, and even tried to influence his colleagues regarding a harassment investigation mandate against him and his spouse, among other things.

He also admitted that he had shown disrespect for the chief executive officer and had posted disrespectful comments about the mayor and his fellow councillors on Facebook.

The Commission municipale du Québec and Mr. Legault’s lawyer jointly recommended the penalty that was imposed, namely the reimbursement of all remuneration and allowances received between February 8 and August 23, 2016.

Also under allegations of harassment of municipal employees, Mr. Legault was at loggerheads with the administration of L’Ascension for two years, from 2016 to 2018. The file even went to court in 2017 before L’Ascension reached a “confidential” agreement with Daniel Legault.

The municipality issued a press release in March 2018 indicating that the latter has agreed that a “final and permanent judgment of the Superior Court will govern his contacts and behaviour” with the municipality’s employees. He had then become a private citizen again, not having been re-elected in 2017.

Raymond Morin

Mayor of Déléage (Outaouais)

The mayor of Déléage Raymond Morin was forced in June 2018 to reimburse his salary and allowances received during six days of work, for having participated in municipal council discussions concerning the end of the mandate of a law firm, when he had an indirect interest in the matter.

The story begins in 2015 when Déléage sends certain quarry and sandpit operators, including Les Entreprises forestières Raymond Morin inc. an invoice for royalties. However, these royalties were contested and the City hired a firm, Deveau avocats, to provide legal support.

In August 2016, Les Entreprises forestières Raymond Morin inc. owned by Raymond Morin, asked that the municipality’s action be dismissed outright and the file went to the Court of Quebec.

Mr. Morin is elected in 2017. Shortly after the election, discussions are held at the municipal council to end the legal accompaniment mandate of the firm Deveau, since some councillors consider the fees too high.

At various times in 2017 and 2018, the mayor participates in discussions, whether in committee of the whole, during deliberations on resolutions or citizens’ questions in public session.

“At the council meeting of January 9, 2018, during question period, Mr. Morin said that “it would have cost too much in legal fees in cases before the Court of Quebec, Small Claims Division, that the municipality would have had to pay five times the price to collect a few dollars”, relates as an example the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) in its decision. The climate on this subject is getting so bad at council meetings that a councillor stops attending committees of the whole. A complaint is also filed against the mayor at the CMQ. Despite this, Mayor Morin continues to participate in discussions and to answer citizens’ questions on this matter, which is considered an “aggravating factor” by the CMQ.

At the hearing, Mr. Morin acknowledged his error; he stated that his intention was to reduce the municipality’s legal fees and not to benefit himself personally.

Raymond Morin is still mayor of Déléage to this day. In May 2018, the Court of Quebec, Small Claims Division, ruled in his favour by dismissing the municipality’s action and forcing it to reimburse $100 in legal fees to Entreprises Forestières Raymond Morin inc.

Last year, four of the six municipal councillors of this small Outaouais municipality made a public outing to demand his resignation and the placing of the city under trusteeship, blaming the chief magistrate for his interference and blaming him for the high staff turnover at the city.

Moreover, since 2019, the Outaouais Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has been “accompanying” the municipality of Déléage in its actions.

Roland-Luc Béliveau

Former Mayor of Lacolle (Montérégie)

The former mayor of Lacolle was forced to reimburse his salary and all benefits received for 17 days of work in 2014 and 2015, following a decision by the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) in 2018.

Roland-Luc Béliveau had made several purchases unrelated to his position as mayor, often using the City Manager’s credit card.

In addition to restaurant expenses, particularly at McDonald’s, he was accused of surprising purchases such as two pairs of water boots supposedly for two municipal employees who had not asked for them and who, moreover, never wore them.

Mr. Béliveau had also purchased, from the City’s budget, several tools that were not required by his municipality’s employees or authorized by the municipal council, such as a compressor at $263.29 or a jigsaw at $126.87. All this in a climate of dissension and a context of increasing resignations of municipal employees.

Before the CMQ, the mayor admitted these expenses, but swore that he believed he was acting in the interest of the municipality.

The Commission, for its part, noted as an aggravating factor the “repetitive nature” of the former Mayor’s failures, as well as the “financial consequences” suffered by the City.

These are not Mr. Béliveau’s only antics. Mr. Béliveau was also suspended for 30 days without pay in September 2017 for placing himself in a conflict of interest by participating in discussions concerning the reimbursement of property taxes on a building he owned.

And even after he left the city later that year, after losing the election, the former mayor continued to make headlines.

In 2018, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs had to call the new Lacolle administration to order to take action to recover taxes unpaid on four buildings since 2015 by former mayor Béliveau.

Jocelyne Tessier

Former Bonsecours City Councillor (Eastern Townships)

The former councillor of Bonsecours en Estrie admitted having tried to facilitate an out-of-court resolution of her dispute with the municipality of some 600 inhabitants.

Jocelyne Tessier thus placed herself in a conflict of interest because she had to “make a choice between her personal interest and that of the municipality,” summarized the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) in its September 2019 judgment.

The acts complained of took place between November 5, 2017, when Ms. Tessier was elected, and November 23, 2018.

Several local newspapers reported that the Town of Bonsecours had initiated proceedings against Ms. Tessier in 2015 because she was in violation of a municipal by-law by using an accessory building on her property for residential purposes.

Ms. Tessier allegedly tried to settle this matter with the City when she was a city councillor.

In April 2019, the municipality finally won its case in Superior Court and the councillor had to stop using the accessory building and demolish part of it.

Collaborating very well with the CMQ during her investigation, Ms. Tessier acknowledged that “she has placed herself in a conflict of interest situation since she became a councillor”.

She was suspended for 60 days without pay in October 2019.

According to a judgment of the CMQ dated June 9, the councillor would never have returned to her position after this suspension.

The seat is still vacant.

Alexandre Malette

Councillor of Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds (Chaudière-Appalaches)

Councillor Alexandre Malette acknowledged having participated in the deliberations and voted in favour of awarding a contract in 2014 to the company of which he is a shareholder with his father Jacques, Construction Jacques Malette et Fils inc.

The municipality of Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds then wanted to sell some land for housing development, with the buyer being responsible for building a residence on it within 12 months of purchase.

“Mr. Malette is well aware of this project since this issue is regularly discussed at Council meetings,” says the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) decision.

However, the councillor votes all the same in favour of awarding a contract to his company for the manufacturing and installation of panels announcing this housing development project. It is however forbidden for elected officials to have an interest in a contract granted by their municipality.

Mr. Malette also votes when the terms and conditions for the acquisition of land are decided. Finally, Mr. Malette participates in the deliberations and the vote concerning the retrocession of an immovable in favour of the municipality in the same file, even though he had a contract for the construction of the residence on this land.

Even though the contract had ended before the vote, the CMQ upheld this failure against Mr. Malette. At the hearing, the elected official admitted having violated his code of ethics, but swore that he had acted in good faith.

He was reprimanded and the CMQ required him to reimburse Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds for his salary and all other benefits received as a councillor for 39 days in November 2018. Mr. Malette is still a Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds city councillor.

Denis Lizotte

Alderman of Saint-Onésime-d’Ixworth (Lower St. Lawrence)

The councillor of this small municipality of less than 600 souls voted in favour of awarding a contract to his brother’s company in September 2018.

In doing so, Denis Lizotte allegedly “acted or omitted to act in such a way as to favour, in an abusive manner, the interests of his brother”, which contravenes the code of ethics of his municipality, according to the Commission municipale du Québec.

In addition to taking part in the vote, he also did not declare his interest to the city council, he admitted. For this reason, he received a 20-day suspension without pay in October 2019. The councillor is still in office today.

Alain Laplante

Mayor of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Montérégie)

In September 2018, nine of the twelve municipal councillors of the City of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu asked the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) to investigate Mayor Alain Laplante.

After an investigation, the organization concluded that a “real power struggle was played out” for several months between this “group of nine” and the executive committee, chaired by Mayor Laplante, over the mayor’s chief of staff, Guy Grenier.

In summary, the “group of nine” dismissed Mr. Grenier several times during 2018, under the pretext that he was only serving the mayor’s demands, while the executive committee tried to reinstate him to his position on several occasions.

The file took on such proportions that the CMQ first tried to accompany the City to help it resolve the conflict, before finally resolving to open an investigation.

In the end, according to Administrative Judge Sandra Bilodeau, Mayor Laplante placed himself in a conflict of interest by challenging the dismissal of Mr. Grenier, who has
to the Superior Court to overturn his dismissal.

According to the CMQ, the mayor even “abusively favoured Guy Grenier’s interests”. He would also have used the City’s resources for partisan purposes, by publishing two press releases dealing with this file.

Mayor Laplante’s lawyer proposed to the CMQ a reprimand for each of the ethical breaches, stating that the latter was not “animated by bad intentions”.

But Alain Laplante was instead given a 95-day suspension. He challenged this decision on the basis of “an appearance of bias”, but bit the dust in Superior Court and served his suspension, the longest in the history of the CMQ, in May 2020.

At the same time, it was learned that three senior city officials had filed complaints of psychological harassment against the mayor with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST).

The saga continues to this day as the mayor asks the City to assume his legal fees related to this case.

Mayor Laplante indicated to the Journal that the judicial process is ongoing and that he is waiting for a hearing date for both the psychological harassment file and his legal fees.

On November 13, the conflict took on another dimension when the City went to court to obtain a permanent injunction against nine supporters of Mayor Laplante to, among other things, stop communicating with City employees and elected officials and to refrain from publishing “defamatory” and “offensive” comments about them on social networks.

The City is jointly and severally liable for $540,000 in damages.

Mayor Laplante replied a week later with two requests, first claiming to be able to act in this lawsuit as a “witness”.

Mr. Laplante also asked the Superior Court to declare that the surveillance and investigative power of a city mayor was applicable to the elected officials of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and that the city’s general management must respond to his requests.

Catherine Trickey

Mayor of Brownsburg-Chatham (Laurentians)

The Mayor of Brownsburg–Chatham was suspended without pay for 18 days in the summer of 2019, after she acknowledged before the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) that she had placed herself in a conflict of interest and had used the city’s resources for purposes other than the performance of her duties.

In October 2016, Mayor Catherine Trickey asked the City to pay two legal bills for legal services for warrants not authorized by City Council.

The mayor then wanted to obtain an opinion in order to terminate the employment contract of the city’s director general, something for which the complaints commissioner of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs also lectured the municipality in another report dated 2018.

Ms. Trickey was also reprimanded by the CMQ for failing to withdraw or disclose her interest during deliberations at municipal council.

Finally, she acknowledged having disclosed to a journalist the identity of an employee who was the subject of a complaint of psychological harassment, which alone was worth 15 of the 18 days of suspension imposed on her.

This suspension, in August 2019, came more than a year after the mayor admitted in our pages that she had awarded city contracts without a resolution passed by city council. This had then raised the ire of six city councillors who then demanded her resignation.

According to the CMQ, Mayor Trickey, who is still in office, had admitted her wrongdoing in this case and had cooperated well with the investigators.

Patrick Leblond

Mayor of Stukely-Sud (Eastern Townships)

The Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) has imposed a 15-day suspension on the mayor of Stukely-Sud in 2019. Patrick Leblond admitted that he did not withdraw when the municipal council voted on resolutions concerning land belonging to him.

The elected representative has been the sole owner of the Domaine des Cantons since September 2018. At a council meeting in February 2019, Mr. Leblond did not disclose his interest in two resolutions to authorize the construction of two modular homes on the Domaine des Cantons property.

He did not leave his seat during the deliberations, but did not vote on the resolutions.

The CMQ pointed out factors mitigating the seriousness of the mayor’s shortcomings, including the fact that he cooperated throughout the investigation and that he did not vote on the resolutions in question.

The penalty imposed is a common suggestion. Mr. Leblond is still mayor of the village.

Pascal Saumure

municipal counsellor de Bouchette (Outaouais)

Bouchette Councillor Pascal Saumure was suspended for 60 days without pay in September 2020.

He acknowledged that he had committed a breach by having had an indirect interest in a maintenance contract with the municipality.

He had business ties with the company that had obtained the said contract.

According to the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ), Mr. Saumure owned a sand pit with his sister and brother in 2019. In November, the municipality awarded a winter road maintenance contract to a certain Steve Lefebvre. When Mr. Lefebvre was awarded the contract, he contacted the elected official to obtain sand from his sand pit.

For “sand trips”, Steve Lefebvre gives a total of $4400 to Pascal Saumure and his family. The advisor personally receives one-third of the amount, or $1466.67. According to the CMQ, this puts him in a conflict of interest.

The advisor cooperated in the investigation and acted in good faith, the CMQ believes. He also claims to have received bad information during the mandatory training in ethics and professional conduct that he took at the beginning of his mandate.

Pascal Saumure is still an advisor to Bouchette.

Gaétan Tremblay

Councillor of Saint-Côme-Linière (Chaudière-Appalaches)

Saint-Côme-Linière City Councillor Gaétan Tremblay was suspended without pay for 90 days in June 2020 after placing himself in a conflict of interest by being paid by a company that had just been awarded a development contract by the municipality.

The contract consisted of the construction of a new library in a municipal building. It was awarded by mutual agreement in November 2019 by all the elected municipal officials, including Councillor Gaétan Tremblay, to 9101-9570 Québec inc.

After the contract was awarded, the consultant was hired by the company in question to work as a carpenter-joiner on the project. He thus found himself in direct interest with respect to the contract given by his municipality, according to the CMQ.

At his hearing, Gaétan Tremblay pleaded guilty and cooperated with the investigation. The court added that he had no ethical record and was not acting in bad faith. The counsellor is still in office today.

Martial Fortin

Former municipal councillor of Lamarche (Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean)

This former Lamarche municipal councillor committed ethical breaches by having a direct link with a company under contract with his municipality.

Martial Fortin admitted his guilt to the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) in 2019 and then pledged not to stand as a candidate in another municipal election for the next five years.

In November 2017, Mr. Fortin was elected councillor at Lamarche. He owns the only gas station in the area and the municipality has been supplying gas to his business for years. A resolution, during which he withdrew, is adopted to end the purchase of gasoline at B. Fortin inc. his business.

However, the municipality resumed business with the company in April 2019, after receiving two conflicting legal opinions on this business relationship.

Councillor Fortin withdrew at the time of the decision, leaving “the other municipal councillors to decide on the resumption of the business relationship with B. Fortin inc. even though he knew that he ran the risk of being sanctioned”, as stated in the CMQ’s decision.

From April to September 2019, the municipality purchases $2609.69 worth of gasoline from B. In October of the same year, when the CMQ began to investigate the matter, Mr. Fortin resigned as a councillor and declared bankruptcy a few days later.

The former counsellor cooperated with the investigation and had no ethical background. However, the CMQ considered that such a breach was punishable by a five-year suspension from a municipal council position and ordered Martial Fortin to respect this commitment.

This is not the first time Lamarche has been in the spotlight. In 2011, the municipality was placed under trusteeship for a year following allegations of conflict of interest, interference and improper awarding of contracts. Five of the seven elected officials in office at the time had been blamed for various shortcomings.

Frédéric Flibotte

Chesterville City Councillor (Centre-du-Québec)

Last January, Chesterville Councillor Frédéric Flibotte admitted that he acted in favour of his personal interests when the services of his company were retained by his municipality. He then received a 30-day suspension and agreed to return the money received under the contract.

According to the statement of facts submitted at the hearing, his company Flibotte musique, which owns musical instruments and sound equipment, was invited to submit a bid to the municipality for the Jeudi en chansons event on August 8, 2019.

The municipality then awarded the contract to Flibotte Musique at the submitted price of $435, thus placing the councillor in a conflict of interest.

Mr. Flibotte collaborated in the investigation and even came to an agreement with the Commission municipale du Québec for its sanction. He is still in office as a Chesterville councillor today.

Richard Dion

Saint-Cuthbert city councillor (Lanaudière)

Richard Dion, councillor for the municipality of Saint-Cuthbert, was suspended for 45 days without pay last January for taking part in votes and discussions on an aerodrome project when he had a direct interest in the matter.

The aerodrome project had been set up a few years ago by Guillaume Narbonne, the councillor’s neighbour.

Mr. Narbonne had purchased two buildings in order to operate a complex for ultralight aircraft, including a runway, hangars, accommodations and a restaurant that could be used as a reception hall.

The disposition of the purchased buildings meant that the home of Councillor Richard Dion was at the centre of the project, between the building used for airfield operations and the restaurant.

At the time, the project was very controversial in the municipality, both among elected officials and the population. In fact, in June 2016, the municipality of Saint-Cuthbert even tried to obtain an injunction to stop the project on the grounds that it endangered a bird species. It finally withdrew from the process in 2017, feeling it had little chance of winning its case.

Before being elected to the municipality in 2017, Richard Dion openly campaigned against this project. In particular, he was part of a citizens’ committee that collected signatures in opposition to the project.

In December 2016, he also participated with a group of citizens in a lawsuit against Mr. Narbonne’s businesses because of the decrease in the value of their property and the nuisance associated with the operations. He will win his case in 2018 with a $15,000 compensation award, but this judgment will be overturned in July 2020.

Richard Dion is elected municipal councillor in 2017. It was during two sessions of municipal council that he placed himself in a conflict of interest in this matter.

The Commision municipale du Québec (CMQ) believes that he was influenced by his personal interests when he participated in decision-making. On August 27, 2018, he first voted on a resolution concerning the project. A month later, he participated in a discussion regarding a zoning change that was denied at the aerodrome.

According to the CMQ, the adviser cooperated well in the investigation. The tribunal found that he “acted in complete transparency, without hiding the facts and his personal role in the whole matter.

Mr. Dion is still a consultant. The aerodrome project was not stopped by the municipality, which however filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the company behind the project to suspend commercial activities of lodging, reception and dining room.

Émile Loranger

Former mayor of L’Ancienne-Lorette

The 1ster In April 2020, the mayor of L’Ancienne-Lorette, Émile Loranger, died suddenly of cardiac complications at the age of 73.

In office since 1983, Mayor Loranger was found guilty in 2018 of three breaches of his municipality’s code of ethics and professional conduct. First, he called for a stay of proceedings.

For these infractions, the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) suspended him for 60 days without pay in October 2019.

The alleged breaches by Mr. Loranger were related to a complaint of psychological harassment filed by his former chief of staff, Marie-Ève Landry.

In December 2018, elected officials were to decide on a resolution asking the CMQ to investigate the complaint. During the vote at municipal council, three councillors approved the resolution, while three others voted against it. Instead of abstaining from the vote, Mayor Loranger then decided against the resolution, thus placing himself in a conflict of interest, according to the CMQ.

In the end, the CMQ demanded, in addition to the suspension, that Mayor Loranger read a letter of apology at a council meeting. In the letter, the mayor explained that he had “a special thought for all the people who may have been embarrassed by this situation”.

Subsequently, the CMQ opened three other investigations for breaches committed by Mr. Loranger. However, they were abandoned following the death of the mayor on January 1, last April.

Marie-Ève Landry received $196,000 in the fall of 2018 following an out-of-court settlement in this case.

Jean-Marc Corbeil

Montreal city councillor, Outremont borough

This councillor from the Outremont Borough in Montréal was suspended for 45 consecutive days without pay last September for having placed himself in a conflict of interest. While the company Restaurant Provisions was personally suing him for $14,600 in small claims, Jean-Marc Corbeil asked to postpone a decision concerning this company. He also voted when approving the requests submitted by Restaurant Provisions to the borough.

In November 2018, Mr. Corbeil visited the premises and found that the Restaurant Provisions was carrying out work outside the building without the necessary authorizations. He then took pictures of the place and told the worker on the premises that the work in progress required municipal authorization, while handing him his card. A few days later, the councillor received a call from the owner indicating that his intervention had resulted in a work stoppage and that this had affected the opening of his business.

In January 2019, Mr. Corbeil received a formal demand letter from the restaurant, which in April will become a lawsuit in due form for the sum of $14,600. A few months later, in June, the Councillor attended a preparatory meeting for a council meeting. At this meeting, the exterior development permit for the Restaurant Provisions was discussed.

The mayor then mentions the conflicts of interest that Mr. Corbeil has with the company. The Councillor nevertheless participates in the discussions since he is convinced that it is justified to do so and proposes to postpone to another date the decision on the application of the restaurant so that the delay “serves as a consequence” for having carried out work without a permit.

The Commission municipale du Québec deems that he is then in a conflict of interest.

The restaurant’s request is still voted on at the next council meeting on July 4. Mr. Corbeil participated in the agenda item concerning the various exterior development permit applications and voted against a number of applications, including the Restaurant Provisions application, placing him in a conflict of interest for a second time.

Mr. Corbeil had taken the mandatory training in municipal ethics and deontology. He collaborated throughout the investigation. He is still a borough councillor. His small claims dispute with the restaurant is still ongoing.

André Henri

Mayor of Saints-Martyrs-Canadians (Centre-du-Québec)

The mayor of Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens André Henri was suspended from his position without pay for 45 days last September. He pleaded guilty to using information that is not generally available to the public to acquire a building in his municipality.

In February 2017, City Council votes to give a final notice to the owner of 9 Principale Street before seizing and selling his property for non-payment of taxes.

In March, the final notice is sent informing the owner that his property will be subject to a sale for default in June 2017. The mayor then calls the owner to let him know that he knows the house will be sold and that he is interested in buying it.

Mayor Henri and his son signed a promise to purchase the house in April and offered a consideration of $4500.

The owner then reimburses the taxes due to the municipality which amounted to $3493.55.

On April 6, a deed of sale is signed between all parties.

Two days later, the municipality publishes a public notice of the immovables that will be auctioned off for non-payment of taxes and 9 Principale Street is not included. According to the Commission municipale du Québec, the mayor used privileged information to acquire the property.

Mayor Henri collaborated in the investigation and is still mayor of the municipality.

Marcel Mainville

Councillor of Roquemaure (Abitibi-Témiscamingue)

A Roquemaure councillor failed to disclose and publish his declaration of interest on time, determined the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAMH) in a letter sent to the municipality in January 2018.

In September 2014, Marcel Mainville had granted a loan of $2500 to the Coopérative de solidarité Dépanneur de Roquemaure. However, it was not until April 2016 that he included this loan in his interest declaration.

In the meantime, in December 2015, the councillor had proposed and voted a resolution to authorize the municipality to purchase certain items from this company, without declaring that there was an indirect interest.

The MAMH reiterated in the letter that it is important “that elected officials comply with the legislative provisions applicable, inter alia, to declarations of pecuniary interests. Mr. Mainville still sits on the municipal council.

Roger Cloutier

municipal counsellor of Saint-Barnabé-Sud (Montérégie)

Saint-Barnabé-Sud city councillor Roger Cloutier admitted having spoken with the delivery man from Pétroles Archambault last winter to ask if he could get “the same price as the one paid to the municipality for heating oil”. According to the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ), he had used his position to “influence or attempt to influence the decision of another person in order to further his personal interests”. Noting that Mr. Cloutier was acting in “good faith” and had no ethical background, the Tribunal accepted the joint suggestion of the CMQ’s counsel and Mr. Cloutier and sentenced him to a 45-day suspension without pay as of October 7. The councillor, who is delegated to the roads and waterways department, is still in office.

Monique Drouin and Henriette Rivard Desbiens

Municipal councillors of Batiscan (Mauricie)

At the 2016 convention of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM), two Batiscan councillors incurred questionable expenses, according to a letter from the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH).

In 2018, the department also asked the municipality to recover the money reimbursed to the two elected officials, Monique Drouin and Henriette Rivard Desbiens, for meal expenses taken in Trois-Rivières when the convention was held in Quebec City and had ended. Mme Rivard Desbiens was also reimbursed for round-trip mileage in carpooling, while the driver was alone in the vehicle.

In the same letter, the MAMH also slapped the then mayor Sonya Auclair on the wrist for expenses that would have been incurred outside of her duties as mayor, including tickets to a show in 2014.

Finally, the letter highlighted possible non-compliant practices of the municipality, including resolutions that authorized in advance all expenses of elected officials over a two-year period (2014 and 2015).

The three women elected defended themselves in an article in the regional newspaper… Le Nouvelliste citing the fact that the MAMH had never contacted them to get their side of the story. The two councillors also pleaded in the same article that they had saved the municipality daily parking fees by asking Mrs. Rivard Desbiens’ husband to drive them back to the convention.

They also explained that at the end of the FQM workshops on Friday, they had hit the road and then decided to have dinner on the way, which would explain the distance between the convention and the place where the reimbursed dinner was held.

The MAMH reminded in its letter that public funds must be used with discernment and prudence. The two ladies still sit on the municipal council.

Robert Milot

Former mayor of Sainte-Adèle (Laurentians)

In April 2016, shortly after his election as mayor, the former mayor of Sainte-Adèle Robert Milot sent “an election expenses return that was incomplete or contained a false statement or information” to the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec (DGEQ). He was found guilty on November 27, 2019, and fined $5,000.

Two pieces of information were missing from Mayor Milot’s election report, according to the Court. First, he did not declare an amount of $1,500 that he had paid to a communications firm that helped him during the election. Also, he did not declare in his report a payment made to a photographer for photos used on his election signs. The Tribunal also found that elements of an invoice for signs were false, as some figures were manipulated to reduce the cost of the contract.

Mr. Milot appealed the judgment, arguing that his trial had not been held within a reasonable time. However, his motion was dismissed last March.

Robert Milot had also received a guilty verdict in 2016 for helping a company that was not qualified to vote in 2014 to make a $100 contribution to the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), while he was a canvasser for that party. This is considered a fraudulent electoral manoeuvre. He appealed the judgment, before finally pleading guilty in 2019 to a lesser charge, namely, helping a person make a contribution that was not really from his bank account.

He had written on his Facebook page that he and his wife were exhausted by their recourse against the DGEQ, but that they would not give up.

“It’s relentless,” he said. Milot has not been mayor since his defeat in the 2017 election.

Yvan Paquet

Alderman Villeroy (Centre-du-Québec)

Yvan Paquet had to reimburse in 2018 the “profit made and salary received” as a Villeroy municipal councillor over a period of more than two months; that is 67 days exactly. He acknowledged having favoured his personal interests during work done by his municipality in 2016.

Mr. Paquet, a carpenter-joiner, was employed by Béton Laurier inc. At the same time, as a municipal councillor, he was responsible for municipal buildings.

Towards the end of 2015, he invited the company he works for to bid on a contract to solve a humidity problem in a daycare centre housed in a municipal building. Mr. Paquet declares no interest and votes in favour of his employer. He will even participate in the work in the daycare, duly paid by Béton Laurier inc.

The project, which costs $26,589.12 in total, exceeds the maximum threshold of $25,000, below which the municipality must call for tenders, as the complaints commissioner of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will point out in December 2017 in a letter sent to Villeroy.

A similar situation occurred during the same period, this time in connection with work on the water reservoir. Béton Laurier was again invited to bid by Mr. Paquet, who again voted in favour of awarding the contract to the company employing him, without declaring his interest. He also works on this site as a carpenter.

The elected official admitted his guilt to the Quebec Municipal Commission (CMQ). His lawyer and the CMQ prosecutor suggested as a sanction the reimbursement of his salary as a councillor for the entire period covered by the breaches, in addition to the profit the elected official made from his participation in the work, which amounts to a total of $994.67.

However, Mr. Paquet was not suspended, as the breaches had occurred during a previous term of office.

He has since been re-elected and still sits as a councillor.

Daniel Bonneau

Former city councillor of Sainte-Brigide-d’Iberville (Montérégie)

In a letter sent to Sainte-Brigide-d’Iberville in February 2018, the Ministère des affaires municipales et de l’Habitation (MAMH) brought to light that a former municipal councillor, Daniel Bonneau, could have had an indirect link in a paving contract.

In April 2016, the municipal council awarded a contract to Excavations Daniel Bonneau Inc. in the amount of $38,834.37 for the repair of a road culvert.

Mr. Bonneau, who was a municipal councillor at the time, withdrew from the deliberations when the contract was awarded.

Even though he had sold Excavations Daniel Bonneau Inc. to two other individuals, the consultant was still a creditor and director of the company at that time.

“It should be noted that Mr. Bonneau was probably aware that he had an indirect interest in this contract since he withdrew from the deliberations relating to its award (…) However, it is generally understood that the fact of denouncing his interest and withdrawing from the deliberations does not relieve the elected official of his obligation to respect the prohibition set out in Article 304”, states the MAMH letter.

This section of the Municipal Elections and Referendums Act prohibits elected officials from having a direct or indirect interest in a contract awarded by their municipality.

The MAMH also pointed out that Councillor Bonneau may also have had an indirect link in the awarding of a contract of just under $5,000 by the Comité des loisirs de Sainte-Brigide-d’Iberville in 2017, still in connection with the same company.

Since Mr. Bonneau was no longer a counsellor in Sainte-Brigide-d’Iberville when his letter was sent in 2018, the MAMH did not go any further, considering the file closed.

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