Virginia Proulx (far right) has been excluded by the majority of the members of the municipal council of Rimouski, during a secret vote. The decision was endorsed by the mayor Marc Parent (to the left).
June 1, 2020 18h49
The City of Rimouski excludes a municipal councillor
During a secret vote, the members of the municipal council of Rimouski, voted with the majority to the exclusion of the councillor of the district The Bic, Virginia Proulx, of the deliberations of the committees plenary. Mayor Marc Parent has consented to the decision.
Mr. Parent, who has not responded to our request for an interview, explained the decision on his page Facebook official. “For the past several months, a series of events contributed to the belief among elected officials, that Ms. Proulx was not in compliance with its commitment to and shared confidential information arising out of the work of the assembly plenary. On the 8th of may last, a one-time event has come to confirm to all the members of the board that Ms. Proulx shared, in effect, of the confidential information to third parties, in addition to convey information to residents of his district that do not reflect the content of the guidelines and decisions of the council.”
According to the advisor to be excluded, this event refers to an email exchange between herself and a citizen and on which some city councilors have put the hand. “This citizen had sent a memorandum to the City, described Virginia Proulx. He didn’t understand why he had not had any response. I shared her discouragement in relation to democracy at the municipal council of Rimouski, and the fact that there is no progress. I shared that I was a little agreement with him […]. At this time, when they saw it, they said that this councillor-there was no longer part of their gang, that they were going to exclude it. After that, they are allowed to say that it is because I have broken some confidential secrets, so that it is not at all the reason!”
The reason, to the councillor of the district of the Bic, it is because it bothers them for a long time. “There is really a culture, in the municipal council of Rimouski, where we can not oppose certain decisions. It is the culture of unanimity. It’s changed quite a bit since the beginning of my mandate because I found that it did not make sense to be a unanimous vote. It is really necessary that there are changes in democratic terms, which are made to Rimouski to be a little more in a participatory democracy with the citizens.”
It will continue to oppose
According to the chosen held in the gap, the decisions taken in committees, plenary behind closed doors “does not comply with the spirit of the law because, normally, the decisions are assumed to be taken in public session”. It promises, however, to oppose these decisions in a meeting where it will not be favourable because if it is not allowed to participate in the deliberations of the committees plenary, it still has access to all the documents.
Ms. Proulx considers this exclusion as an attempt for the mayor to Parent and its advisors, of the “discredit in the public opinion.” “It plays hard, Rimouski”, she says. In his opinion, the debate must extend beyond the borders of Rimouski. “We really need to think about how we can have more transparency in the municipalities, especially those where there are no political parties and no opposition.”
Even if it qualifies for this decision anti-democratic, the advisor sees all the same the positive. “I think it will allow me to have more freedom of speech because at Rimouski, the elected officials can’t speak publicly without incurring the wrath of the city council, denounces it. There is no opposition. It is a bit considered as a single party. Therefore, it is necessary to hold the party line, whereas municipal councillors are supposed to be independent. I see a way to bring new debates on the public square, which was not possible before […]!”
Ambition for the town hall?
Earlier in may, when Virginia Proulx had made known its dissent in relation to the position of mayor Marc Parent, who was in favor of the removal of road checkpoints in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, it was implied that the local councillor had started his election campaign for the town hall. “My decision for the town council is not yet taken”, the main interested. It ensures that the race for mayor is really not an issue in the current situation.
In social networks, the exclusion of a councillor is a topic that polarizes the citizens of Rimouski. “Up here, it is seen widely in people which I support, believes Ms. Proulx. I get a lot of positive messages. In the comments, people have a desire, a desire of changing the way we do in Rimouski, and they are happy to see that there is a councillor who dares to say it out loud.”
CREDIT:PHOTO SPECIAL COLLABORATION JOHANNE FOURNIER