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Motion to open plenary rejected

by Charles Dickson
Campbell’s Bay
Mar. 20, 2024
A proposal to allow the public to attend the monthly plenary meetings of MRC Pontiac mayors has been soundly defeated.
At the regular monthly public meeting held in Campbell’s Bay last week, 15 of Pontiac’s 18 mayors voted against a motion that would have given the public access to the public policy discussions of their elected representatives currently taking place behind closed doors.
The proposal to hold part of the plenary meetings in public was brought forward in February by Shawville mayor Bill McCleary with a view to holding a vote on the matter at the March meeting of mayors held last week.
In addition to McCleary, mayors Colleen Lariviere (Litchfield) and Odette Godin (Waltham) supported the motion.
Opposed were Carl Mayer (Alleyn and Cawood), Corey Spence (Allumette Island), Brent Orr (Bristol), Alain Gagnon (Bryson), Jean-Louis Corriveau (Calumet Island), Raymond Pilon (Campbell’s Bay), Donald Gagnon (Chichester), Ed Walsh (Clarendon), Christine Francoeur (Fort Coulonge), Sandra Armstrong (Mansfield and Pontefract), Terry Lafleur (Otter Lake), Lynne Cameron (Portage du Fort), Lucie Rivet Paquette (Rapides des Joachims), Doris Ranger (Sheenboro) and Karen Daly-Kelly (Thorne).
Immediately prior to the vote, Kim Lesage, the director general of MRC Pontiac, read a message from the MRC staff’s union representative expressing opposition to opening plenary meetings to the public on the grounds that it would place unelected unionized staff attending the meetings in the political arena. Apart from Mayor McCleary’s indication of being unmoved by the union representative’s view, there was no discussion of this last-minute interjection.
McCleary indicated that the resolution as read by the director general was substantially changed from what he had proposed in February. Mayor Lafleur asked how anyone could vote in support of the resolution without knowing exactly what the changes to the plenary would be.
Neither these nor any issues were pursued through further discussion in the presence of the public. The vote was called, raised hands were counted, and the warden declared the resolution had failed.
A survey of mayors on the matter conducted by THE EQUITY late last year indicated a three-way split on the question at the time, with approximately one third of mayors solidly behind the idea to open the plenary to the public, a third opposed, and a third undecided.

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