Esculier responds to criticism following St. Lazare by-election win
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Newly elected St. Lazare District 4 Councillor Marc-André Esculier listens to comments and questions from residents about his recent by-election win.
Newly elected District 4 Councillor Marc-André Esculier was on the defensive responding to criticism from two residents about his victory during an unprecedented 90-minute question period before the start of the regular council meeting on Tuesday, October 4, that also saw Mayor Robert Grimaudo reveal that a provincial government body has been making inquiries into town hall.
While many of the 50 people in attendance applauded Esculier’s win after he was congratulated by resident Constantinos Markakis at the start of question period, not everyone was pleased. Resident Gilles Boutin said of the six candidates who ran in the district 4 by-election, Esculier was the last person he would have voted for.
“In the 12 years that I’ve been coming to council meetings, all I’ve seen is a person who is very arrogant and impolite towards council. I hope that he will do his job properly and work with council,” said Boutin. Esculier replied that Boutin was entitled to his opinion and that he was elected to represent the majority of the population in his district which drew a round of applause.
Alvero Martinez, one of the by-election candidates, told Esculier that although he won, with Richard Meades present in the council room, he wasn’t sure whether it was actually Meades who was elected. “My question to you is, are you working for Mr. Meades or is he working for you?” asked Martinez. “You have a lot of supporters here.”
“I won the election because I went door-to-door for about one month from 10 in the morning until eight at night,” Esculier replied. “I met a lot of people and spoke to each of them for at least 15 to 30 minutes. I listened to the people, their problems and concerns. I won because I did my job.”
When Martinez asked again whether either Esculier or Meades were working for each other, Grimaudo interjected by saying he felt the real question had to do with the confidentiality aspect related to the council position which Esculier was bound to uphold.
Esculier replied that he didn’t understand why there was a problem with his relationship with Meades. “I’ve lived in St. Lazare for 37 years. I know a lot of people. I don’t ask you who you work with or who you know.”
Meades, who regularly attends council meetings, has taken the town to task on a wide range of controversial topics including the Chaline Valley landslide zone, houses with sinking foundations, and what he feels is unnecessary extravagant spending on the new town hall and the two previous Festival au Galop equestrian events.
The testiest exchange occurred when resident Elizabeth Rozon accused Grimaudo and councillors Pamela Tremblay and Brigitte Asselin of intentionally bad-mouthing newly elected councillor Marc-André Esculier during the by-election campaign.
“I have never used Mr. Esculier’s name in a public forum,” said Tremblay who was visibly angry. “What you are saying is totally wrong.”
When Rozon continued with her insinuations, Grimaudo replied that her accusations were false and threatened to expel her. “You are being disrespectful. We are trying to answer you politely and with respect. If you do not change your tone, I will have to ask you to leave the room,” Grimaudo replied.
Markakis had earlier asked Grimaudo whether the provincial Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Occupation du territoire (MAMOT) is conducting an investigation into town hall. After initially replying yes, Director General Serge Tremblay corrected the mayor by saying that there is no investigation but questions have been asked by the MAMOT.
Tremblay’s reply prompted Markakis to say that his question was directed to Grimaudo and he expected an answer only from the mayor. “If I want to address the question to Mr. Tremblay I can,” said Grimaudo. “The answer to your question is yes, we have been asked questions. Is there an actual investigation, the answer is no.”