Crisis in Sainte-Pétronille: the municipality did not commit any wrongdoing according to the Quebec Municipal Commission

Crisis in Sainte-Pétronille: the municipality did not commit any wrongdoing according to the Quebec Municipal Commission
Crisis in Sainte-Pétronille: the municipality did not commit any wrongdoing according to the Quebec Municipal Commission

The municipality of Sainte-Pétronille has committed no wrongdoing in the crisis of confidence that has shaken the village for months, concludes the Quebec Municipal Commission, which rather criticizes the conduct of certain citizens.

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The Department of Municipal Integrity Investigations and Prosecutions (DEPIM) of the government agency launched an investigation after sending formal notices to 97 citizens in December and a warning to a local newspaper through Municipality attorneys.

“At the end of the investigation, it appears that the Municipality had to resolve a real problem and, to this end, it made decisions, for which it is certainly accountable, but which cannot be considered reprehensible acts within the meaning of there [loi]», Indicates a letter sent to the general director of the Municipality on Friday.

According to the investigation report, it was changes made to the management of the municipal library which first caused chaos. New directions and the municipal council’s refusal to reimburse alcohol costs at a volunteer recognition dinner were said to have been “very poorly received.”

“Smear campaign”

Citizens “alerted by the volunteers and not concerned by the situation” then undertook research about the general director, which led to the obtaining of sensitive and confidential information relating to her former employment, reports the DEPIM.

The report mentions a “smear campaign” against him and citizens having “peddled potentially harmful information”. The investigation shows that the Municipality is “satisfied” with the work of its general director, that her hiring was done “in accordance with the rules of the art” and that there was “no concerning conduct on her part” .

The formal notices are “part of the legal tools” available to the Municipality, especially since it has “the legal obligation to guarantee its employees a working climate free from harassment”, we can read.

The investigation reports citizens showing “incivility” towards members of the council or who flout “the authority of the mayor” while “the latter correctly carry out their roles and responsibilities”.

“It is useful to remember that council sessions are not public assemblies, but rather sessions held in public,” it is specified.

However, the intervention with a local newspaper “should have been more limited”, raises the document which is concerned about certain allusions “likely to harm press freedom”.

Disappointment

The conclusions aroused disappointment on the part of the citizen movement which continues to demand more transparency and denies having exceeded the limits.

“It’s a dark and dark day for the citizens of Sainte-Pétronille. […] We think that it is an investigation which is rather political than transparent,” commented one of the residents, Francois Martin, believing that several legitimate questions put forward by his peers had been evaded.

At the time of writing these lines, it had not been possible to obtain the reaction of the Municipality.

The report recommends that the Municipality adopt a media relations policy that “clearly” excludes any link between media coverage and their financing and adopt a resolution to request support from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

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