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Controversial Quad Club AGM in Fort Coulonge

Brett Thoms
Fort-Coulonge November 21, 2022

The Pontiac Quad Club held its annual general meeting (AGM) on Sunday. The AGM was attended by about 30 people and saw a controversial revision to the club’s bylaws and a contested leadership election, which saw 11 people run for four open seats on the executive.
An individual from outside the Pontiac had to be brought in to conduct the AGM, presumably due to the tensions in the club.
The controversy in the club, whose purpose is to maintain and expand trails accessible to four wheelers in both the MRC Pontiac and Municipality of Pontiac, revolved around accusations of trails disappearing, the mismanagement of the club and the rules governing the club’s executive.
The large group opposing the current direction of the club mostly came from the Luskville and Quyon area.
However the outgoing president of the executive, René Barrette, and his wife Diane Barrette, the secretary of the executive, maintain that concerns stem from misunderstandings or are personal in nature.
René Barrette, the lightning rod for the opposition to the club’s current direction, won reelection to the board in the first of ultimately four rounds of voting. Overall, despite running candidates for each of the four open seats, only one “opposition” candidate was elected to the position of administrator.
The next president of the club will be determined at an upcoming meeting of the nine person executive.
One of the main issues animating the opposition was disputes over trails being rerouted with allegedly no communication to the membership.
Phil Dagenais, a former executive member of the Pontiac club who resigned last year after tensions within the club, and who unsuccessfully ran for election this year, said that he has seen first hand trails that were altered without club members being told.
Diane Barrette said that organizing trails is a very complicated process and required negotiations with municipalities, the MRC, the fédération des quads Québec, Transports Québec and private landowners, making it a very long difficult process toward changing and updating trails.
While the Barrettes deny any wrongdoing, they said they are working on improving the communications of the club by updating their website and informing members of changes to trails more quickly. Diane added that progress they do make is often ignored in favour of more criticism.
Another issue was that Dagenais was served with a legal notice from the law firm RPGL to cease his criticism of president René Barrette on Facebook before the AGM, which also attended the meeting to contest.
Dagenais denies that this is the case.
Diane Barrette explained that Dagenais was misrepresenting what was happening on the executive by saying votes weren’t taken on issues when they were voted on, which is the reason for the legal notice.
A final controversy of the afternoon meeting was a change in the club’s bylaws that stipulated that a strong French language skills are required to sit on the executive of the club.
According to the executive the rules were changed to conform to Quebec’s laws that require minutes and other official documents to be recorded in French which will make administration for the volunteer association easier.
“If there’s one person that speaks English and doesn’t understand French, what do we do? All French people turn to English automatically. And I have then to translate everything that’s been said in order to write the minutes in French. So it causes some issues and some problems,” said Diane Barrette, who is in charge of keeping the group’s minutes. However she added that bilingualism is considered an asset in order to keep unilingual anglophone members of the club informed.
Dagenais, who considers himself bilingual, said that the change is meant to exclude anglophone members who are opposed to the current leadership, who are predominantly English, a charge which the Barrettes and other executive members deny.
Overall the Barrettes described the opposition to the current direction of the club as personal, but hopes they will be able to work together with club members to make improvements going forward.
Overall the AGM, which was scheduled to last an hour, went almost three hours due to the long voting process and back and forths between the members and the executive.
Diane Barrette said the club’s current priority is to negotiate a trail that will link Fort-Coulonge to Waltham, however expected that process will take years.
She added that Quad Club is great for the region’s economy and hopes its 797 members continue to grow the club and invited the media and public to attend Pontiac Quad Club meetings in the future.

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