• Carmen Marie Fabio

Hudson bids farewell to Mayor Ed Prévost


YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Following a lengthy illness, Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost, shown here with a visiting canine friend, passed away this week at the age of 76 two months after announcing he would not seek re-election due to his health issues.

Though former Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost’s health issues were known, the news of his death on Tuesday, October 10, at age 76 came as a shock to many in the community and while his political path, like most, was fraught with potholes and unexpected roadblocks, he’s being recognized as someone who approached the job with optimism and a firm resolve to move the town forward.

Council reaction

“Back to proud, that is the path that Ed Prévost insisted we follow on as a council and community,” said District 6 Councillor Natalie Best. “Ed was completely committed to Hudson and last week he lamented, as he often did, that his body was keeping him from being as involved as he longed to be.

“He was a man of integrity. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. I was blessed to first know him as a competitive tennis player, neighbour, followed by becoming a friend and mentor.”

Elected on his first foray into municipal politics, Prévost was known for his no-nonsense communication style and his determination to bring a semblance of normality to Hudson politics, particularly following the tumultuous legal proceedings against former Director General Louise Léger-Villandré for misappropriation of municipal funds.

“He was a good man who absolutely loved Hudson and wanted to do good things for the town,” said District 3 Councillor Nicole Durand. “He stayed true to himself and remained steadfast and dignified when faced with adversity.”

Background

He came into municipal politics after a long and varied business career beginning as account executive before moving on to upper management positions. His education at the Institute of Canadian Advertising led to management positions in Quebec radio from 1969 to 1973. After completing his MBA at the University of Western Ontario he served as Chairman of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and Chairman of Telefilm Canada in the 1970s and 1980s respectively. He served on many boards of directors including a stint as President and CEO of O’Keefe Breweries in Montreal, Chairman of the Quebec Brewers Association in the late 1980s, and Director of Sleeman Breweries between 1999 and 2007.

Entry into municipal politics

Prévost won his seat in a 75 per cent victory over challenger Jacques Bourgeois. He took office immediately after Interim Mayor Diane Piacente who had replaced former Mayor Michael Elliott following his resignation for health reasons in July, 2013. “I was very sad to hear about the passing of Mayor Ed Prevost,” said Piacente. “Although I may not have always agreed with his politics, he had my respect for taking on a tough job after a very tumultuous time in Hudson’s history. Had his health issues not become so serious, I am quite confident that he could have moved forward with many more items on his agenda.”

At the time of his bid for mayor, Prévost’s campaign platform stated, “If Hudson was progressing and humming in the right direction with responsible, accountable, and a transparent administration, I would not be running. The town direly needs to be fixed now! (sic). It may be its last chance.”

Challenges

Besides the financial troubles left in the wake of Léger-Villandré, Prévost faced numerous challenges including the draining of Pine Lake following the breach of the dam, the still-ongoing road condition issues in the town, and the wrongful dismissal suit launched against him by former Director General Catherine Haulard. This led to a number of appearances before the Commission Municipale du Québec (CMQ) in which he faced 151 allegations of municipal impropriety brought against him by District 1 Councillor Rob Spencer with legal representation by Hudson resident Véronique Fischer.

The accusations alleged Prévost had breached the Code of Ethics and Conduct of Elected Officials.

As reported in Your Local Journal in October, 2016, Prévost was found not guilty of any wrongdoing but left what he described as emotional scars, particularly for his family members. The final bill for the tribunal exceeded $100,000.

Health issues

He initially took a leave from his political duties in March, 2016 and returned four months later with sporadic absences to tend to health.

"It’s a shame,” said Elliott. “I didn’t really know the man personally but he certainly had a difficult row to hoe. And many people do not realize just how stressful being a mayor can be and the toll it can take on one’s health and personal life."

In a statement released October 11 by the Town of Hudson, Prévost is described as a retired CEO and entrepreneur who specialized in Strategic Planning.

Prévost leaves four children, 12 grandchildren, and his wife Sandra Johnson.

“He wanted to do so much, feeling that Hudson had finally turned a page,” Piacente said. “Unfortunately, his health didn't allow for that and may he rest in peace.”

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