Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Sainte-Pétronille&nbsp ;: citizens request access to documents, the SQ intervenes

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A Commission investigation Municipality of Quebec was opened after the Municipality sent a formal notice to around a hundred citizens as well as to the community newspaper “Autour de l'île”.

  • Félix Morrissette-Beaulieu (View profile)Félix Morrissette-Beaulieu

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Police officers from the Sûreté du Quebec (SQ) intervened around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the request of the Municipality of Sainte-Pétronille after two residents attempted to consult municipal documents.

The two citizens wanted to get their hands on the book of deliberations, a public document, which would have allowed them to learn about the votes of the municipal council which led to the Municipality's decision to put 97 citizens on notice.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Radio-Canada was able to speak to citizens on site. We have granted them confidentiality since they are already the subject of formal notices sent by the Municipality.

According to the citizens, the call to the police took place after discussions with the director general of the municipality, Nathalie Paquet, and the deputy director general, Marie-Claude Pouliot, regarding the consultation of these documents.

At the end of these exchanges and the police intervention, the two citizens were not able to consult the requested documents. However, this is a right for citizens under the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies.

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The lawyer who represents the citizens, Me François-Xavier Simard, affirms that he provided legal advice to the deputy director Marie-Claude Pouliot by telephone regarding the right of his clients to consult this type of document. Regarding the intervention of the police, he emphasizes that he had difficulty explaining such behavior on the part of the municipal administration of Sainte-Pétronille.

The Sûreté du Québec confirms that no offense was committed and that no complaint was made to the police. The SQ, however, refuses to reveal the reason for the call which led to the intervention.

The general director of the municipality, Nathalie Paquet, indicates that she has not refused any public document to citizens.

The document requested by the citizens did not exist at the time of the request and it will be adopted at the next council meeting. Like any other document from the Municipality, it will then be posted on the Sainte-Pétronille website, she explains in an email sent to Radio-Canada at the end of the day on Wednesday.

It is due to undue pressure placed on employees of the Municipality by citizens who wished to obtain non-existent documents that a call was [made] to the Sureté du Québec in order to regularize the situation and put an end to the intimidation. We continue to deplore the intimidation faced by elected officials and certain employees. Recourse to the SQ made it possible to put an end to this episode, adds the general director.

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The independent newspaper “Autour de l’île” has been placed on notice by the City of Sainte-Pétronille.

Remember that the village of Sainte-Pétronille, on Île d'Orléans, is under the microscope of the Quebec Municipal Commission (CMQ). An investigation was opened after the Municipality sent a formal notice to around a hundred citizens as well as to the community newspaper Autour de l'île.

In December, around a hundred citizens who signed a petition received a formal notice from the Municipality. The petition asked the municipal council to re-evaluate the hiring process of the new general director, Nathalie Paquet, after it was discovered that the municipal council of Val-des-Lacs, in the Laurentians, where Nathalie Paquet worked at a similar position, had investigated him following serious misconduct, according to a letter dated March 30, 2022 and obtained under the Access to Information Act.

In January, a formal notice was also sent to the newspaper Autour de l'île, which intended to publish an article describing a particularly stormy municipal council.

According to the City, elected officials and general management were targeted by a smear campaign started by a group of citizens dissatisfied with the Municipality's decisions.

Mayor Jean Côté claims that this group creates an unhealthy climate that restricts the freedom of expression of elected officials, employees and other citizens who are afraid of being booed at municipal council meetings. p>

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