CMQ findings side with Mayor Prévost
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Though cleared of the charges brought against him, Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost said the effect the ordeal has had on his family and loved ones cannot be erased.
Following months of testimony and numerous appearances before the Commission Municipale du Québec (CMQ), Hudson’s Mayor Ed Prévost has been found not guilty of any wrongdoing, or had the charges dismissed, of the 151 allegations of municipal impropriety that had been brought against him by District 1 Councillor Rob Spencer through lawyer and Hudson resident Véronique Fischer.
“At the end of the (testimony), both lawyers, the prosecution as well as my own defense, tabled their argumentation, vindicating me of any wrongdoing,” Prévost said in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal.
The CMQ is an administrative tribunal and a council organization specializing in municipal affairs. Its responsibilities include guardianship and temporary municipal administration and can also hold public inquiries into administration. While the CMQ’s role is to determine wrongdoing as opposed to punishing, Prévost said the damage has been done.
“The punishment has been inflicted already on me, my wife, my kids, my grandchildren, and my close ones, over many months.” he said. “That’s not been easy and there’s nothing we can do to retract that.”
Prévost addressed the tribunal on the last day of hearings, telling the court the impact the ordeal has had on friends and family members, reportedly bringing one of the defense lawyers, Orélie Landreville, to tears.
Prévost said the final bill of the tribunal amounts to well over $100,000 which will be footed by the residents through their municipal taxes.
The accusations against Prévost allege he breached the Code of Ethics and Conduct of Elected Officials by, "lmproperly furthering the interests of Consultant Judy Sheehan," "lmproperly furthering the interests of investors and real estate developers," and “using his position as mayor to improperly promote as council work a plan created by undisclosed third parties to further the interests of undisclosed private promoters/investors.”
Sheehan, tasked with negotiating the collective agreement for the town’s unionized employees, successfully took legal action against the town to recoup the balance of the payment for work done on the contract. Sheehan, who was initially hired by former DG Catherine Haulard, and her fees for work done had climbed to $62,246.25, past the $10,000 allowable limit before being submitted to tender.
Prévost said at the point council was made aware the fees had passed the limit, the negotiation period was already nearing its end. “Judy Sheehan had never been paid,” said Prévost, “and I felt it unjust that she couldn’t get paid for work she’d already completed, and to which the town had already agreed to.”
The bulk of the remaining charges were dismissed August 16, 2016 by the commission. CMQ Prosecutor Marc-André LeChasseur said “he could not gather evidence supporting the allegations contained in the Sheehan dossier and that even if the allegations were proved, it would not implicate Mr. Prévost as breaching the code of ethics.” His recommendation was for the commission to declare the motion inadmissible.
Allegations of conflict of interest in the town’s use of Indigo Translation Company to translate the proposed strategic plan from French to English were also discounted.
“…the evidence simply does not reveal a clear, precise, serious and unequivocally that Mr. Prévost would implement a scheme to promote the interests of the translation company to the detriment of the city,” read LeChasseur’s summary. “Again, the evidence rather shows that, faced with an administrative violation having already produced (and this, mainly due to lack of experience and oversight of council members), the mayor tried to find solutions to meet the commitments made by the city.”
While Prévost has not yet received Judge Sylvie Piérard’s written report, the ‘Request to Dismiss’ was tabled September 29.
The judge is taking the testimony and proof into deliberation and will render her judgement in the near future.
Editor's note: An error in the printed version of this story indicates the judgment had already been rendered. As per this updated version, the judgment will be rendered in the upcoming weeks. Your Local Journal regrets the error.