Marc Parent explains the exclusion of Councilor Virginie Proulx

The mayor made this publication to justify the reasons which motivated the municipal council to exclude councilor Virginie Proulx from the plenary committees since May 11th.

<q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":"[Les conseillers] no longer wish to speak in his presence, knowing that their comments are likely to end up in the public arena“,” text “:”[Les conseillers] no longer wish to speak in his presence, knowing that their comments are likely to end up in the public arena “}}” lang = “en”>[Les conseillers] no longer wish to speak in his presence, knowing that their comments are likely to end up in the public arena wrote the mayor, who has not yet responded to our request for an interview on the subject.

The municipal councilor of the Bic district of the City of Rimouski, Virginie Proulx, was excluded from the plenary committees (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Luc Blanchet

In his Facebook post, Mr. Parent indicates that on May 8, council members had confirmation that <q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" French "}," value ": {" html ":" MmeProulx shared […] confidential information with third parties, in addition to conveying information to residents of his district who did not reflect the content of the orientations and decisions of the council “,” text “:” MmeProulx shared […] confidential information with third parties, in addition to conveying information to residents of his district who did not reflect the content of the orientations and decisions of the council “}}” lang = “fr”>Ms. Proulx shared […] confidential information with third parties, in addition to conveying information to residents of his district who did not reflect the content of the guidelines and decisions of the council.

In a secret vote by the councilors and in a very majority, the elected officials asked for the exclusion of Ms. Proulx from the working sessions. So I endorsed this decision on the part of the elected officials.

Extract from a publication by the mayor of Rimouski, Marc Parent, on his Facebook page

Marc Parent indicates that the plenary committees are working committees without legal structures or obligations (apart from the limits imposed by the Code of ethics, professional conduct and the Civil Code). These plenary committees allow the administration and the mayor to discuss the files before the official decision-making which, it, is held before public during the assemblies of the municipal council.

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In camera mandatory?

However, are elected officials required by law to silence conversations that take place during plenary committees?

In an interview with Info-awakening, the professor at the National School of Public Administration (ÉNAP) and former Quebec Minister of Municipal Affairs, Rémy Trudel, clarified the situation.

He explains that in camera, that is, private discussions in a full committee, is a discretionary decision that is not governed by law or regulation. There is also a working habit in which elected officials meet before municipal councils are held to discuss, explains Rémy Trudel. However, there is no regulatory provision that requires these committees to sit in camera, he adds.

The members of the municipal council do not take an oath like the ministers who are appointed to the council of ministers. They are not required by law to keep confidential what happens in committees of the whole.

Rémi Trudel, professor at the national school of public administration

According to the former minister, it would be rather a commitment of honor made by the members of the council and which makes it possible to discuss in private certain questions before the holding of the municipal councils.

City Councilor Virginie Proulx, from the Bic district in Rimouski, participates by videoconference in the municipal council meeting.

Councilor Virginie Proulx (on screen) and Mayor Marc Parent during a municipal council meeting at the start of the pandemic (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Christine Rioux

Rémy Trudel explains, however, that we cannot impose silence on committees of the whole. And that does not exclude the discussion which must be done afterwards during the municipal council before the public, he says.

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Furthermore, Viriginie Proulx would like, among other things, that a greater part of the discussions be accessible to citizens.There are certain elements for which it is normal that there is a confidentiality, but we could bring more openness to the debates on the side of the municipal council, and that it is a little less like a play where we know already who proposes, who supports, she says.

To this end, Rémi Trudel recalls that no decisions are made during plenary committees. City councilors must deliberate in public, according to the spirit of the law, he says.

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