The councilor of the Forges district, Mariannick Mercure, tabled two resolutions on transparency at the public meeting of the city council.
Unveiled on the city councilor’s Facebook page a few days ago, the resolutions aimed in particular to hold fewer debates behind closed doors in order to promote better transparency.
The first resolution asked the board to authorize the presence of journalists at all of the working or plenary sessions of the board, with the exception of points concerning in particular labor relations, human resources, legal opinions and points including information the disclosure of which could hinder negotiations for the conclusion of a contract, cause a loss for the City or provide a significant advantage to another person.
“In 2018, for the sake of transparency, my colleague Denis Roy tabled a resolution to give journalists permission to attend plenary sessions. Even if all the elected officials then spoke in favor publicly, it had stirred behind the scenes. Over the months which followed the adoption of this resolution, we saw the creation of a new bypass: the closed-door period, from which journalists are excluded in order to allow elected officials to discuss “confidential” subjects, went from a few minutes to several hours, ”says Mariannick Mercure on his Facebook page.
The second resolution provided for the publication of the minutes and reports of any committee and any commission created by the municipal council on the Town’s website no later than five days after they were submitted to the Executive Committee.
It was initially planned that discussions on these resolutions would take place in a working session in the presence of journalists. However, Mayor Jean Lamarche declared a closed session on the issue at the start of the plenary session, so that the debate around the two resolutions took place between council members only.
“We’ve been discussing it behind closed doors for two years,” deplores Mariannick Mercure. I had asked that we talk about it in front of the journalists this time. The fact of putting the point in camera is the height of inconsistency. I would like the public debate to take place on this issue and for council members to express publicly what they want to change. I hope we will tackle the substance of the matter. I am ready to listen to you and make changes to the resolutions, but not in camera. ”
Mayor Jean Lamarche justifies this request for a closed session by the fact that he was advised that there were legal, budgetary and human resources challenges in these resolutions.
“The resolutions are full of good will. If we decide to go further in terms of transparency – and this is what everyone around the table wants – there are constraints to be considered and issues come with that too ”, specifies the mayor.
“We might have been able to submit something by mutual agreement”
In reaction to this request for a closed session, the counselor left the plenary session for the duration of the discussions on this point, an attitude which shocked several of her colleagues.
“It would have been interesting for you to be with us during these discussions. Perhaps we could have tabled something by mutual agreement. We all agree on transparency. However, it was perhaps a little inappropriate that you were not there to discuss this point with us, ”underlined Maryse Bellemare, councilor for the district of Chavigny, on the sidelines of the council meeting.
Luc Tremblay, councilor for the Châteaudun district, was more incisive during the working session when Ms. Mercure announced that she would go ahead with the tabling of the two resolutions despite requests from her colleagues to wait to discuss them together. .
“When we are all together and we make group decisions, we have to know how to rally, which Ms. Mercury almost never does. She is buckée. We have to get along together. I am no longer capable of this attitude and there is a damned gang that is disgusted, ”he said.
For her part, Sabrina Roy, councilor for the Madeleine district, expressed her unease at the fact that it was the former clerk, Me Gilles Poulin, who drafted the two resolutions. “We have a competent clerk on duty.”
“It’s healthy not to always agree”
Councilors Dany Carpentier and Claude Ferron notably defended the resolutions, arguing that people should be better informed, and in an objective manner, about the debates that concern their living environment and that more transparency would possibly make it possible to increase the interest of citizens in their city.
“It’s important that people know who they’re dealing with. Wanting to force consensus at all costs does not make it possible to show everyone’s positions and the positions that are evolving among elected officials. It’s healthy not to always agree. We have to talk about it, but in public too, ”said the councilor for the Rivières district.
The city council reached out to Mariannick Mercure to continue working on the resolutions.
“Since the mandate that began in 2017, I believe that there have been many changes made to promote transparency within the City. Citizen participation and consultation were encouraged, resources were added to City communications, journalists are present during working sessions, citizens sit on committees. We can always improve transparency and we have shown that we are ready to work on this issue. I extend this invitation to Mariannick: may she join us in working together for the well-being of citizens, ”said Ginette Bellemare, Councilor for the District of Rigaud.
Both resolutions were put to a vote. That concerning the distribution of the minutes of the committees and commissions on the Internet site of the City was beaten by 11 against 3. The vote on the other resolution was closer. Faced with a tie of votes at 7-7, the mayor decided and opposed the resolution.