Another Saint-Lazare councillor resigns
THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK
The only Saint-Lazare councillor to serve a second term after the 2017 municipal elections, District 2 Councillor Pamela Tremblay announced her resignation this week, saying she no longer identified with the current council.
Almost a month to the day of the surprise resignation of Saint-Lazare District 3 Councillor Martin Couture on March 12 comes the news that District 2 Councillor Pamela Tremblay also tendered her resignation from council April 16.
In a communiqué issued to area media outlets, Tremblay cited council’s continued ‘tolerance and trivialization’ of a number of events, including an aggressive display of behaviour by District 5 Councillor Richard Chartrand towards a member of the administration. The March 5 altercation followed news that the town’s administration had opted to no longer provide municipal workers to help out during the annual Héma-Québec blood drive held at Bar Chez Maurice which is owned by Chartrand.
“Mr. Chartrand’s outburst is just one of the problems,” Tremblay told The Journal April 16. “I was not the target in that particular incident but I’ve been the target of many outbursts in the past,” she said, adding the friction has come from more than one councillor.
“This is a council that was elected in 2017 after a campaign of wanting to make big changes,” she said. “They arrived with an objective of discrediting the current administration and the previous council. In order to achieve that, they had behaviours that were very disrespectful.” Tremblay and Mayor Robert Grimaudo were the only two candidates serving a second term.
Tremblay said the council’s goal was to stop certain projects that had been ongoing, including the proposed roundabout for the intersection of Bédard Avenue and Chemin Saint-Louis and the Au Galop equestrian festival.
“When there are individuals around the table who are willing to discredit professional experts because it impedes their objective, you can be certain comments will be made that are not very respectful and, in my case, continued and repetitive attacks, aggressive behaviour, attitudes and even words. This has happened on numerous occasions.”
Tremblay said in any aspect of society, if an individual is witness to inappropriate behaviour including aggression, attacks, and bullying, everybody has a responsibility to intervene.
Not the same perception
“If we didn’t intervene, it’s because we didn’t have the same perception,” District 1 Councillor Geneviève Lachance told The Journal. “Yes there were a lot of exchanges and, as in every town, there are back and forth discussions and disagreements. We get passionate and sometimes voices get raised. We didn’t see it as a bullying situation.”
Lachance acknowledged that there was a difference of opinion on many of the files held over from the previous council.
“The majority of us (on council) saw things the same way and tended to agree with each other and not with her,” said Lachance. “If people always vote against what you’re saying and not have the same opinion, it must get isolating and heavy.”
Her sentiments were echoed by District 6 Councillor Brian Trainor.
“While there are regularly differences of opinion amongst many councillors, it was clear that in general Madame Tremblay most often had a different vision on many of the issues and decisions we were faced with,” he wrote in an email. “This should come as no surprise given that the residents of Saint-Lazare voted in five new councillors in the last election as a clear message that residents did not agree with the vision and decisions of the previous council.”
Trainor said the resignation came as a complete surprise and that though there were decisions contrary to Tremblay’s views, they were not targeted at her personally.
“Council is composed of individuals with strong characters which can sometimes lead to animated debates but, in my opinion, were void of any personal attacks or deliberate isolation against any one councillor.”
As reported in The Journal April 11, Councillor Chartrand agreed his behaviour had been unacceptable and “very aggressive.”
Following the March 5 incident, Chartrand was provided access to everything he needed to do his job but was not to be physically in town hall.
“Within a couple of weeks, some of the elected officials were ready to bring him back,” Tremblay said. “I have expressed my concerns over another outburst.”
Before her resignation, Tremblay drafted a ‘Code of conduct’ for council to adopt that she said was ignored. She has also made an official complaint to the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ) relating to the breach in the code of conduct regarding respect to others.
“It’s a damn shame,” said Mayor Grimaudo. “Madame Tremblay was excellent at her job and I’m very sad to see her go.”
Grimaudo would not comment further on the concerns raised by Tremblay, only saying he needed to digest all the information received before making an official statement.
“Was (Mr. Chartrand’s) behaviour inappropriate? Absolutely,” concluded Grimaudo.
The mayor said he’s confident the existing sitting council members can meet the needs of the approximately 7,000 residents of District 2 and District 3 who currently have no elected representative.
A by-election to fill the two vacant posts will be held June 9 at the cost of approximately $60,000 according to Mayor Grimaudo.