Change at council, mayor announces not running again
Well, change is afoot on the municipal political front. Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin announced last week that he is not running for his seat again. This shocking news was a surprise to many, leaving pundits scratching their heads and leaving admirers wondering what they could do to change his mind.
As head of the only municipal political party in Gatineau, the challenge of running a council with only six of the 18 councillors representing the political party, Mr Pedneaud-Jobin nevertheless managed to lead the city through two record-level floods, a hurricane, a pandemic, as well as an overhaul of the Urbanism Plan and city worker contract negotiations. Indeed the list of accomplishments, and projects underway, is long. The impact this mayor has had on Gatineau will certainly go down in the annals of history. In fact, his work to improve Gatineau had a spill-over effect on big cities across the province under his presidency of the Big Cities Caucus at the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ).
An ardent supporter of journalism, and print media in particular, Pedneaud-Jobin pushed for transparency at council, ensuring that the Minutes of committee and council meetings are available on the city’s website. The aim of this editorial isn’t to support or dispute any of the initiatives cited here – plenty of folks and organizations dispute the success of this mayoral time for Gatineau.
An election campaign is well underway and the change at the mayor’s office is just part of it. Aylmer even has a fifth district going forward – 19 councillors are to be elected next November. District 3’s Mike Duggan will have a change. The Action Gatineau candidate there has been announced, a bright light named Caroline Murray. Other candidates haven’t come forward, but this riding traditionally has a high-impact councillor (Richard Bégin, Alain Riel most recently). Maude-Marquis Bissonnette in Ward 4 (soon to be Ward 5) is running again and is a member of Action Gatineau. For Districts 1 and 2, Audrey Bureau and Gilles Chagnon would be hard-pressed not to run, their popularity in those ridings is very high and council as a whole benefits from these hard-working councillors.
As for the mayor’s seat, there is no announcement at press time as to who will run on the Action Gatineau ticket. Jean-François Leblanc, a councillor popular in most parts of Gatineau, launched his campaign to widespread support. France Bélisle, former director of Tourisme Outaouais, announced her candidacy on February 1. Either one of these candidates would make a fine mayor, indeed. Interestingly, neither has the funds and organizational support that come from a municipal political party (over $100,000 for allocations funding from the party that independents do not have behind their campaigns – plus the usual $5,000 that all candidates may spend). Stay tuned and help by writing letters to the editor throughout the campaign.