Gatineau mayor reorganizes commissions and committees
Steven Boivin elected president of Municipal Council and Mike Duggan back on committees
After nearly 15 months since the election of the new municipal council, Gatineau Mayor France Bélisle proposed a reorganization of the committees and commissions during the municipal council meeting of February 14.
The reorganization considers the performance of members, their needs and interests. “I think the proposed changes will be better than the current situation,” said Bélisle in a February 8 media question period. “When we were elected, I met with the councillors and we discussed their interests. It’s certain that after 15 months individuals find new interests, people evolve, and talents are developed. I believe I can arrange what will boost team spirit.”
There are three commissions, “Vivre-ensemble” commission, “Ville en Santé”, as well as the youth commission, that are completely made up of Action Gatineau councillors. Mayor Bélisle addressed this in a February 14 media question period by saying, “I didn’t evaluate it like that. I spoke to the councillors about their interests and their strengths. The reshuffling was not guided by a political strategy, but rather it was by individuals’ interests and interpersonal relationships.”
Aylmer Councillor Steven Boivin will preside over the municipal council, replacing Versant councillor Daniel Champagne, who occupied the role for nearly 10 years. In an emotional exchange during the February 14 council meeting, Boivin said, “It is frankly an honour. I really want us to work better together, for citizens. That is my wish and goal. I appreciate each of you. Mr. Champagne, thank you for your dedication to Gatineau. I used to watch you on my TV and now I have the honour of sitting on that chair.”
The “Comité Ville intelligente” will now be called the committee on finance, presided by Mitigomijokan councillor, Anik Des Marais. Orée-du-Parc Councillor Isabelle Miron was named deputy mayor. New Parc-de-la-Montagne-Saint-Raymond councillor and former Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau has been named president of the Committee on the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change. He has also joined the executive committee. Buckingham councillor Edmond Leclerc has been named Vice-president of the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO), as well as becoming a member of the Commission on Transport, Sustainable Travel and Security.
Pointe-Gatineau councillor Mike Duggan is now back on committees and commissions after being removed in February 2022 due to his previous comments regarding the confederate flag, and his support of the Freedom Convoy. In an interview with the Bulletin last year, Duggan stated, “They are not there as hate symbols; they are there as symbols of rebellion. It is naive to think that when you are in the countryside you might fly the flag but not in the city. We are pretty woke. I do denounce the confederate flag, I am simply saying in the context it is being miscategorized as racist, but the intention is a sign of dissent.”
Following the incident with councillor Duggan, Bélisle proposed he be removed from the commissions and committees he sat on. All the councillors at the time, excluding Duggan himself, voted in favor of this proposal. A year later, Bélisle decided to name him president of the Audit Committee as well as a member of the Planning Advisory Committee, the Committee on Demolition Requests, and the Local Heritage Council. Duggan has also rejoined the Corporation du Festival des montgolfières de Gatineau (FMG), as a representative.
“I thank my colleagues for once again giving me their trust,” said Duggan at the previous council meeting. “I have considerable experience and knowledge that I want to benefit Gatineau. I am passionate and don’t hesitate to defend causes I believe in. I will continue, but I will be more cautious about my statement in public. If it makes you feel better, I have hired a communications consultant so I can present, more conventionally, my sometimes colourful remarks.”
“I welcome discussions with colleagues,” said Bélisle, “even if on subjects we do not agree on. In politics, it is okay to not agree. I thank Mr. Duggan for coming to speak with me. I am comfortable proposing his new positions on the committees and commissions.”
Photo credit: Courtesy of Steven Boivin.
Photo caption: Steven Boivin, Aylmer Councillor, new President of the Gatineau municipal council.