• James Armstrong

Hudson town council hires Director General with dissenting votes


PHOTO COURTESY PHILIP TOONE

Hudson has hired Philip Toone as Director General for the town filling the vacancy following the August departure of former DG Jean-Pierre Roy.

Hudson town council voted to hire Philip Toone as the town’s Director General (DG) beginning Monday, December 3 – however the decision, made during the November council meeting was not unanimous. A majority passed the resolution on Monday, November 5 with Councillors Chloe Hutchison and Jim Duff dissenting. When asked by resident Bill Nash about their dissent, Hutchison said she voted against council’s decision due to the addition of criteria at the end of the selection process.

“Had the criteria been there at the beginning, it might have resulted in a different choice,” she said describing the requirement of the candidate to have municipal experience as a director general and concerns about financial strengths and abilities. “While I believe this candidate is best the best solution or choice for this council, I’m not sure it’s the best long-term choice,” she said.

“This is not an opinion on the suitability of the candidate,” said Duff noting he had issues with the selection process that would stay within caucus. He said he looked forward to working with Toone.

Hiring process

“If I could clarify, we were willing to consider para-public experience as well as municipal experience,” said Mayor Jamie Nicholls.

“I understand he was also one of your colleagues in the House of Commons,” said Nash. “Did that figure in the decision?”

“Yes he was a colleague but that did not affect the decision,” replied the mayor noting Toone went through the same selection process as other applicants. The Town of Hudson had hired the recruitment firm Morgan Philips to assist in the process.

Born and raised in the Ottawa area, Toone was politically active at an early age supporting the New Democratic Party during several campaigns. In 2011, he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine riding. He served as Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition and Deputy Opposition Whip.

“He has a lot of experience in working across party lines,” said Nicholls following the meeting. Currently, Toone is the Director General for Ormstown, Quebec.

Response from new DG

“I’m looking forward to a very beneficial mandate for the town and myself,” Toone told The Journal this week. After two years with Ormstown, Toone said he needed to be closer to an urban environment such as Montreal.

“My partner, Martin Potter, is currently working in the Gaspé and he’s not keen on driving,” said Toone. “We needed to find a better way to facilitate our partnership,” he added. “I’ve been to Hudson many times and it’s a community that I really do enjoy. It has a great sense of community and a great sense of its place in Quebec society. It has a great future.”

CMM approves urban planning funding

The mayor announced that the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) had approved Hudson’s request for a subsidy to pay for a charrette and its associated feasibility studies.

“We’ve been granted up to $100,000 to complete this exciting exercise in urban planning,” said Nicholls. “This money will allow us to plan for a sustainable future for our town. The anticipated growth of our town will happen in a way that preserves our ecological welfare, our social fabric, and our economic prosperity for decades to come.” A charrette, sometimes called a ‘design charrette’ is a type of participatory planning process that includes all stakeholders.

No hint of fraud

During the first question period, Bill Nash raised an issue regarding a draft of the 2017 management letter that came from external auditors. According to Nash, the draft stated that when it came to the subject of fraud, “…there were no problems except for…”

“As there was no mention of that in the final letter, do you know what they were referring to?” he asked.

“A draft is a draft,” the mayor replied. “We spoke with the auditors and there was no suspicion of fraud,” he said. Nash asked if it had anything to do with the previous Director General.

“Mr. Nash you can go on a fishing expedition about this, but the fact is, the management letters contain no fraud, whatsoever,” Nicholls replied.

The mayor then asked Nash about the source of the draft document. Nash declined to give that information at the time.

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