• Carmen Marie Fabio

Hudson’s new Director General welcomes town’s challenges


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

The position of Director General of the Town of Hudson - that has been in a state of flux since the dismissal and subsequent arrest of former DG Louise Léger-Villandré - sees a new player in the ring with former Saint-Augustin DG Jean-Pierre Roy.

Mere days after the Town of Hudson hired new Director General Jean-Pierre Roy, a number of residents began questioning a trail of allegations that arose from his eight year tenure as DG of the Town of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures on Quebec’s lower north shore.

“All of these allegations are totally false,” said Mayor Ed Prévost of media reports gathered by some Hudsonites detailing a previous complaint of psychological harassment and accusations of debt and taxation increases while Roy held the position.

“We did all the necessary reference work,” said Prévost, “and we will respond vociferously to any false accusations.” The mayor said Roy is willing to make a sworn statement under oath to dispel any doubt on his ability to do the job.

Prévost said he’d received a number of emails and phone calls from citizens questioning Roy’s hiring, claiming he’d been fired from his previous post.

“He was not fired,” said Prévost. “This is a typical situation of the media making allegations and when they prove to be false, there’s no follow-up.” The mayor referred to stories that appeared in the Journal de Québec that said Roy was suspended following harassment complaints from two former employees in 2014. The article also states Roy was terminated in February of this year as a result of a 25 per cent municipal tax increase in a one year period.

“Both charges of harassment were brought before the CRT (Commission des relations du travail) and were thrown out,” said Prévost, “and the council at the time ordered the administration to terminate one of the employees.”

Reached September 14, Roy denied any allegations of wrongdoing and expressed confidence in his ability to perform his new duties and a willingness to start.

“The Town Clerk (of Saint-Augustin) was fired for insubordination following a number of suspensions,” said Roy. “She (filed a) complaint against the city, not against me.” Roy cited an inquiry conducted by the Commission des normes du travail (CNT) and subsequent investigation that determined no harassment had occurred.

Roy disputes further allegations that the Town of Saint–Augustin cannot explain a $22 million expense while he was DG. “In 2009, the town of L’Ancienne Lorette had to increase taxes to 35 per cent because they were not able to pay their fees to the Quebec agglomeration.”

“It’s not $22 million, it’s $14.3 million and it’s not a ‘wrongdoing’,” Roy said, but rather an agglomeration taxation issue. As a condition of the agglomeration, the town of Saint-Augustin retained possession of the Centre industriel de haute technologie de Saint Augustin which came saddled with a deficit of $6 million. “It was well financed at the beginning but when the Quebec Agglomeration took over (in 2008), the debt rose.” The centre was later sold for $6 million that went towards the debt. The sale was contingent on making a deal with a property developer to waive the fees for street repairs.

Roy also dispelled the accusation that he was suspended from his position in Saint-Augustin in February 2014, but rather had asked the town for a leave to prepare his legal defense in a defamation suit and to deal with family matters.

“As a municipal officer, I have never been sanctioned in 16 years of practice,” he said. “(Public) confidence is important. The municipal council of Hudson is implementing a mission statement that is really a good thing and I don’t want it to be compromised by technicalities.”

The hiring committee was composed of Mayor Prévost, interim Director General Duncan Campbell along with Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton accounting firm. Roy credits Campbell for helping smooth his transition into the position.

Roy replaces Campbell who filled in after former interim DG Jacques Lemieux resigned earlier this year on March 23 after eight days on the job citing significant interpersonal and political problems at the town. Lemieux was hired after former DG Catherine Haulard, who had been with the Town of Hudson for 18 months, left following a two-week suspension. She subsequently sued the town for wrongful dismissal in a case that will be heard later this month. Haulard was hired after former DG Louise Léger Villandré was asked to resign following the discovery of accounting irregularities. She was arrested in October 2014 by UPAC officers facing charges of fraud and breach of trust. Her next court date is October 1.