This Monday’s Stanstead monthly municipal meeting was a travesty of a farce worthy of the best moments of Monty’ Python’s golden years.
Let’s set aside the core of the issue, the citizen’s concerns are legitimate but they risk to be proven wrong with a simple test of the machine. And the idea of finally fixing the granite industry’s tailings is long overdue.
As we reported, the problem is a grave breach of any ethical standard in a democracy.
In our municipal political system, the mayor presides over an assembly. In fact, he represents the municipality that elected him and is in charge so that meetings are held in orderly fashion.
While it is less and less common, councillors should have disagreements and be able to express them. In fact, Canadian consensual politics may be the biggest hindrance to a real democratic life at the municipal level. Canada likes disconnections, as if the political world can be separated from one level to the next, municipalities not depending on the Provinces (of which they are creatures) or the Federal government. But, in fact, a change in government in Ottawa impacts all municipalities. That somehow municipal councillors are above party politics is absurd and detrimental to democracy. If the provincial and federal politicians knew that their electoral base was municipal, they would take notice. Right now they have no reason to do so.
So the mayor is in fact both speaker of the house, regulating the debates, and Head of State. He MUST be above the fray. Deciding only if council is equally divided and not taking sides. He represents all and not a faction.
Phillipe Dutil, Stanstead’s mayor, is a man of good intention, but when things go wrong we have Monday’s mess. Never in the last dozen years, or more, have we witnessed a mayor threatening to expel a citizen asking questions. Over the years, some were a lot more belligerent than the man who was honestly expressing his opinions. And those can be political. He can say that he will run against the mayor or support anyone who does so.
The mayor has no excuse whatsoever for his behaviour at last Monday’s meeting. He cannot, in law, chair a meeting and be the proponent of a project. We are even of the opinion that he cannot chair any organisation that depends on the town’s best behaviour towards it. And Granite Central is one of them. We have heard pleas for support to the municipality from the non-profit from day one, grants from the former Pacte Rural being one of them.
We do not argue that what Granite Central is doing is essential. This newspaper gave tons of free advertising to the cause before and after the Museum was opened. And the project that it proposes makes sense if the neighbours can live with it. And we would appreciate that the Nimby’s stay put. Unless blind and deaf when you move close to an industrial area, you must expect the hindrances that are attached to it. When you bought the property, it was already discounted for the presence of shops.
We ask the mayor to convene a press conference of all the local media and offer his regrets for his behaviour on Monday.
In this case, one is too many. He deserves better than being remembered for one day in May.