• John Jantak

Saint-Lazare councillor expelled from council for two weeks


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Saint-Lazare District 5 Councillor Richard Chartrand said his commercial establishment, Bar Chez-Mauice, does not profit financially from the annual blood drive held on its premises and says the goal is to help save lives.

Saint-Lazare District 5 Councillor Richard Chartrand was at the Tuesday evening council meeting as usual but not in his role as councillor. Chartrand was sitting in the audience as an ordinary citizen after being expelled from council for a two-week period based on a reported conflict of interest ruling that was recently handed down by the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ).

The decision by the CMQ stems from a blood drive that was held by Chartrand for Héma-Québec at his private enterprise, bar Chez Maurice, in 2019. The CMQ ruled that, as a councillor, Chartrand was in a conflict-of-interest because the town was not obliged to put up signs or promote the blood drive in any way.

Meant to help those in need

Chartrand maintains the blood drive, one of several he’s held over the past few years, was not intended to solicit any kind of financial gain from the town or anyone else, but merely to collect blood to help those in need. “Last year I voted for the city’s blood donor clinic and I was in a conflict of interest because I held my blood donor clinic after that,” he said.

“The CMQ ruled that because I had my blood donor clinic at Chez Maurice, I was doing marketing for my business and I’m in a conflict of interest because I’m using the city to make money which isn’t the case. I just want to save lives,” Chartrand told The Journal. He added the CMQ’s decision to expel him from council was unfair.

Chartrand stood in front of the microphone during question period to protest his expulsion. He also did a quick survey of what the four sitting councillors thought of the decision.

Council’s reaction

District 1 Councillor Geneviève Lachance said it was unfortunate the situation reached the point where Chartrand was expelled especially considering all the positive work the Chartrand family has done to help the community with their previous blood drives. She added the expulsion puts a stain on the Chartrand family name.

District 2 Councillor Pierre Casavant said while he didn’t know all the specifics related to the issue because he was recently elected to council in a by-election, he personally felt the two week expulsion was a bit too much.

District 4 Councillor Michel Poitras said it was unfortunate the situation caused a whirlpool within a small glass. District 6 Councillor Brain Trainor was also supportive of Chartrand. “I think there was no malintent on what you did. You’ve done wonderful things for the past 20 years with the blood donor clinic. There was never any intention on your behalf to do anything wrong,” said Trainor.

“From a layman’s point-of-view, no one would see you as having done anything wrong but from a technical point-of-view it’s deemed you did cross the line as far as what the CMQ claim as being in a conflict-of-interest,” Trainor added.

Mayor Robert Grimaudo declined to comment specifically on Chartrand’s situation except to say that, “The CMQ did their investigation and issued their ruling.”

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