St. Lazare councillors dispute version of events regarding fundraiser money


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

St. Lazare District 1 Councillor Lise Jolicoeur contested the assertion that she’d benefitted directly from a fundraising event in which money was raised for her daughter after she was struck by a speeding car in 2007.

Controversy continues to swirl this week around an apparent insinuation made by St. Lazare District 3 Councillor Brigitte Asselin towards District 1 Councillor Lise Jolicoeur about a fundraising event to help support her daughter Patricia Jolicoeur who was critically injured in an automobile accident about 10 years ago.

The insinuation was made during the regular council session on August 1 and centred around the adoption of a motion to provide a $2000 financial contribution to L’association des gens d’affaires de St-Lazare (AGASL) for their annual golf tournament.

Prior to its adoption, District 4 Councillor Marc-André Esculier asked for a show of hands to determine which councillors supported the motion and those who opposed it. Both Esculier and Jolicoeur voted against it.

Jolicoeur justifies no vote

Jolicoeur stated she was against the proposal because she felt it wasn’t right to provide public funds to the AGASL. Asselin replied to Jolicoeur’s no vote by stating she was surprised by her decision considering that in the three prior years, Jolicoeur had consecutively voted in favour of providing funding to the businessman’s association.

What especially troubled Jolicoeur was Asselin’s assertion that she allegedly benefitted directly from the funds that were provided by the AGASL from a fundraising effort in 2007 to help her daughter Patricia Jolicoeur who was severely injured when she was struck by a speeding car near her home in November 2006. Patricia remained in a coma in a chronic care facility for over four years until she passed away in January 2011.

Not only did Jolicoeur dispute Asselin’s comment, she said it brought back painful memories about the ordeal that her family has had to endure since the accident. Jolicoeur agreed there was a fundraising campaign and she did receive a cheque through the auspices of the AGASL, but that the money was collected by a women’s softball association and she never asked for any financial aid from the AGASL.

Asselin chastised by resident

The situation also upset at least one resident who chastised Asselin during the September 5 council meeting question period for bringing up such a sensitive issue regarding the Jolicoeur family. Asselin disputed the criticism saying she never made a comment regarding the AGASL’s role in any fundraising effort, adding she was voicing a personal opinion regarding Jolicoeur’s decision not to support the golf tournament.

In response to the entire ordeal, Jolicoeur issued a press release last week in which she criticized Asselin for making a public statement that also put Jolicoeur’s integrity as a councillor into question just because she voted against a resolution (see the bottom of this post for the full communiqué). She stands by her decision and her version of events in which Asselin allegedly said that Jolicoeur benefitted financially from the AGASL during Patricia’s ordeal.

AGASL responds to controversy

Representatives from the AGASL also voiced their concerns about the press release, saying it implied the organization failed to use proper accounting methods to keep track of the money it receives and how it is distributed, according to President Martin Couture and Vice-President Michel Poitras.

The statement as originally written by Jolicoeur with her lawyer, said “...I received information that states that there is a lack of ‘control’ over the sums raised by this organization.”

Couture told Your Local Journal that the comment not only discredits the AGASL for their accounting practices, it also puts his reputation as a chartered accountant into question. Neither Couture nor Poitras could comment on the fundraising activity that was held in 2007 on behalf of the Jolicoeur family because they were not members of the association at the time.

Jolicoeur acknowledged the error in the press release during a telephone interview on Wednesday morning, noting the statement should have read “...there is a lack of ‘information’ over the sums....” She also apologized for any misperceptions the statement may have caused to the AGASL. Mayor Robert Grimaudo declined to comment on the matter.

_________________________________________________________________

Communiqué issued by St. Lazare Councillor Lise Jolicœur

Councillor Lise Jolicoeur wishes to reestablish the facts following statements made publicly by Councillor Brigitte Asselin to the effect that she should not have opposed the adoption of a resolution to provide a sum of money to the 'Association des gens d'affaires de Saint-Lazare'.

Ms. Jolicœur stated, "I am exercising my role as a municipal councillor with integrity and in the interest of all citizens. It is true that in the past, the trust created for my daughter who had been involved in a very serious accident had received several donations, including one from the Association. However, I condemn the attitude of Councillor Asselin, who recently criticized me for opposing the adoption of a resolution to contribute financially to the organization of the Association's golf tournament on the basis that I had personally received money from them.

This is absolutely false and undermines my integrity. To imply that I personally benefited from these sums is an unjustified attack. Additionally, Ms. Asselin breached her obligations under the Code of Ethics for Elected Officials.

Indeed, a member of the Municipal Council must promote respect in its relations with the other members of the Municipal Council. The integrity and honour of the function must prevail, and spreading misinformation is not consistent with the spirit of the code.

Under municipal law, elected municipal officials have the obligation to vote. They are free in conscience to vote for or against any measures proposed by the Municipal Council. Under the circumstances, Councillor Jolicoeur did not see how her objection to the adoption of a resolution to grant a sum of money had been so badly received by the members of the Municipal Council and, in particular, by Ms. Asselin.

Ms. Jolicœur added, "Recently, I obtained information that suggests that there is a total lack of information over the sums raised by this organization. Significant surpluses have been identified and I did not see how we could justify granting public funds in such a situation. My decision was made in the interest of all and I intend to continue, when I disagree with the chosen directions, to speak up and, if necessary, to oppose the adoption of certain measures. I sincerely hope that through this intervention, the citizens of Saint-Lazare will be able to better understand the situation."

Finally, Councillor Jolicoeur declared, "I only wish that the members of the Municipal Council act with maturity and respect the other members who disagree in the making of certain decisions. Obviously, the current electoral context is probably making some people more partisan and they may say things that are not justified under the circumstances.”

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