• John Jantak

Hudson says it won’t stifle citizens’ rights to ask questions during question period


Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost told residents at the Monday evening council meeting that the town has no intention of preventing citizens from asking question or making comments during question period provided no malicious or slanderous statements are made against the town’s councillors and employees.

Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost told residents during the January 11 council meeting that the town will not stop citizens from asking questions or making comments during question period provided that slanderous or derogatory insinuations or remarks are not made towards any town officials or municipal employees.

The issue was raised by a resident during question period in reference to an article that was published in the December 10th edition of Your Local Journal which stated that the town would seek legal recourse against anyone making false defamatory and slanderous statements towards its employees on social media.

The resident asked council whether similar legal action would be taken against any resident who raises an issue or makes controversial comments that either the mayor or councillors would not appreciate.

“The resolution that was passed was to protect specifically one employee who was being bad-mouthed,” said Director General Jean-Pierre Roy. “It was unfair, really unfair. This is why we took this position for this employee in particular.”

When Prévost was asked by Your Local Journal during a telephone interview whether the resident had a right to be concerned about possible legal action, he replied, “That’s a lot of hogwash. We happen to know, and I’m not at a point now where I can divulge what I know, but I do know that there are some inside people who are trying to make the town look bad, make some people look bad, make the council look bad and make the administration look bad.

“It also reverberates elsewhere, on social media, website and blogs,” Prévost added. “For example, some employees have been accused anonymously without any substantiation of being ‘on the take.’ That’s the kind of thing that we will not tolerate. We have to protect the integrity of our employees. So we’re going to sue people who try to damage their integrity. These people work their butts off. There’s no justification for these insinuations, none whatsoever.”

The mayor said council will always welcome questions and comments from all its residents provided the proper decorum of the council chamber is always respected and citizens refrain from making unsubstantiated or slanderous statements.

“A town hall meeting is basically a democratic forum where people can vent their thoughts and ideas freely and openly. Whether it suits the administration or not is irrelevant. We have to be totally transparent and open to that kind of thing. This is why we have town councils,” said Prévost.

“I guess there are some people who are genuinely concerned that they might be sued, which is malarkey. (However) anybody may be sued by a town for making malicious and callous statements that are not substantiated in any way, shape or form,” Prévost added.