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An elected official denounces a “completely inappropriate climate” at Quebec City Hall

Photo: Getty Images Alicia Despins claims to have brought to the attention of the chief of staff “various situations of violence, aggression, harassment and an altercation between two elected officials in the corridors of city hall”.

Sébastien Tanguay in Quebec

February 21, 2024

  • Quebec City

The mayor's chief of staff Bruno Marchand is the subject of a complaint to the Quebec Municipal Commission (CMQ). An elected official from the opposition criticizes Clément Laberge for his alleged inaction in the face of the “toxic climate” which allegedly prevails at city hall. The ruling administration assures that it will “collaborate fully” with the CMQ.

Alicia Despins, a 29-year-old elected official from the Quebec First party, claims to have brought to the attention of the chief of staff, over the last two years, “various situations of violence, aggressiveness, harassment and, recently, an altercation between two elected officials in the corridors of city hall” where the two protagonists, an elected official from the opposition and an elected official from the ruling party, “almost came to blows”.

She emphasizes that she herself did not witness the spat, but the report that reached her ears through the mouths of direct witnesses would have disturbed her. She accuses Clément Laberge of having failed in “his responsibility to ensure the safety of elected officials, staff and the population” at town hall despite these numerous reports.

“It cannot continue,” says the Vanier-Duberger councilor about the climate at city hall, which she describes as “totally inappropriate. »

Alicia Despins alleges that she herself suffered an episode of “harassment” and “intimidation” when an elected official from the ruling party challenged her from the underground parking lot of city hall to her office.

“I can’t say that I feel particularly safe at city hall,” laments the youngest member of the municipal council. My colleagues will tell you: we try to never walk too alone. »

“It’s their way of being”

His boss, Claude Villeneuve, took the accusations a little further, citing his “impression” that a “culture” reigns in the mayor’s entourage.

“That's what's a little bit vicious about it: it's [sic] always small events for which we turn the page, we don't make a big deal out of it, we don't call the police for this. In the end, what comes out of this is that we are faced with a team that […], preferably when the cameras are not watching, [will] act physically, through [its] presence, to try to intimidate a elected, to try to make him act differently, to try to exert constraint on him. »

The leader of Quebec first suggests that this is one way to proceed. “[In] the mayor’s team, that’s how they work. It’s their way of being, it’s their way of occupying public space, it’s their way of being in their relationship with other actors as well, not just elected officials. So I think that would need to be clarified. »

By press release, the mayor's office refuses to comment on the situation as long as the file remains open to the CMQ. “We take note of this complaint. Mr. Laberge will collaborate fully with the Quebec Municipal Commission in the process. Considering the said process, we will not make any further comments on it until its conclusion. »

Le Devoir contacted the opposition elected official who allegedly had trouble with a colleague from the ruling party in the corridors of City Hall. He refused to share his version, indicating that a press briefing on Thursday would clarify the situation.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116