Pontiac council report - secrecy beats transparency
Mo Laidlaw
Pontiac

Eight weeks after the director-general was suspended (with pay), Mayor Roger Larose has switched municipal lawyers. The mayor, who was voted in last November on a platform of transparency has a new mantra: confidentiality. When asked why the municipality would change legal advisors, he responded, “I can’t tell you, it’s confidential.”

Groupe Action Jeunesse
A special council meeting, was held at the Marcel Lavigne community centre in Luskville on 27 May 2014 with 18 members of the public in attendance, 10 of whom had come to support Groupe Action Jeunesse’s summer day camp program. Mélanie Touchette explained that the day camp needs administrative help from the municipality. After 12 years and with the influx of young families, the administration has grown too much to be handled by volunteers.

What brought this to a head was losing their office in the community centre. Diane Daigle said, “Giving the office to someone else was a slap in the face”.
A single employee responsible for leisure and recreational activities should make it less likely that a room used by the day camp as an office and to store equipment would be transferred to another organization (Le Grenier des Collines) because “it was spare”.

The mayor said that the municipality would try to help GAJ with the day camp this year. He is open to hiring someone but maybe not until the fall, with funding from the CLD. This employee should handle activities for all age groups from children to seniors, covered by funding for the policy on families.

The mayor cites confidentiality
At the start of the meeting, Councillor Inès Pontiroli asked to add an item to the agenda, to request a meeting with the accountant who has been carrying out the audit, so that councillors can ask questions and have the report explained. (The council has been sworn to secrecy about the results of the audit). Mayor Roger Larose refused to allow this to be added to the agenda, saying he was against it. A majority of councillors then voted to accept the agenda, with Councillors Pontiroli and Amyotte voting against.

In the public question period at the end of the meeting, Nicole Gibeault asked councillors Howard and Maxsom if they had understood Pontiroli’s addition to the agenda, which was only presented in French, and if not, why they had voted against it. The mayor refused to allow the councillors to answer the question, ignored a further question on why he hadn’t translated the proposal, and told Ms Gibeault to sit down. The tone of the response was impolite, and several members of the audience expressed shock. Mayor Larose also refused to answer questions about why council voted (4:2) to give the mandate for legal services to a different legal firm: Deveau, Bourgeois, Gagné, Hébert & associés, S.E.N.C.R.L. replacing the longtime municipal lawyer, Michel Lafrenière, yet again citing confidentiality.

Full minutes of council meetings are usually posted on the municipal website within a few days of meetings. www.municipalitepontiac.com/en/council-and-municipal-committees/minutes-of-council-meetings/
(En français, Procès verbaux) www.municipalitepontiac.com/fr/conseil-et-comites-municipaux/proces-verbaux/
Archived reports are at: http://www.heritagepontiac.ca/Municipality