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Calumet mayor avoids public comment on allegations

CALUMET Island May 13, 2020
Last Wednesday, the municipality of Calumet Island held an special meeting to discuss a number of events that have affected the municipality in the past few weeks.
The meeting was held virtually, with only the six council members and the mayor in attendance, but a 13 minute recording of the meeting was released for the public shortly after.
The meeting was held in the wake of another meeting on April 27. The day after the virtual planning meeting, two elderly councillors, Réjean Meilleur and Alice Meilleur-Pieschke accused Mayor Serge Newberry of assault and intimidation respectively, in two separate incidents. Both apparently filed complaints to police. Neither of the councillors or Newberry himself wished to comment on the issue when contacted by THE EQUITY last week, but Meilleur-Pieschke said the alleged confrontations stemmed from what was said at the earlier meeting.
The main points of the May 6 meeting, held entirely in French, were a discussion of possible solutions for addressing the absence of the municipality’s director general, Sabrina Larivière, who has been on personal leave since April 16.
Councillor Martin Bertrand, speaking after the meeting, said that they were looking at a variety of option for finding a temporary replacement for Larivière, including borrowing a director general or assistant from a neighbouring municipality.
“We hope she’s going to be back in two weeks, from what we hear it’s a very good possibility, but if not we need to set some things [in place],” he said. “We need some options, we’re hoping a neighbouring municipality who has a DG or assistant DG working only a couple of days a week might agree to do a loan to us … in the mean time.”
Bertrand also said that Newberry agreed to address the situation with his fellow councillors, which had sparked a protest by citizens last Saturday, who called for his resignation.
The message from Newberry regarding the numerous issues in the municipality was supposed to be released to the public before the council’s monthly meeting on May 11.
“It’s going to be a press release that will be sent to local media, [and] on our website,” Bertrand said. “We’re expecting the mayor to do that.”
Newberry didn’t respond to a request for comment from THE EQUITY and no message was published or sent to media prior to the meeting on May 11.
Bertrand also noted that the council would be accepting questions from the public via online forms or calls to the municipal office prior to the monthly meeting, which he saw as a step towards accountability from constituents.
“We’re trying to give our population a voice like they normally have at our monthly meetings,” he said.


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