Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

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.

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