Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 1:38 p.m.
United Counties refuses to congratulate first female mayor of Montréal
What began as a simple request to send a letter of congratulations to the new mayor of Montréal boiled up into a tempest in a teapot exchange Wednesday between two of the mayors sitting at the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) table.
Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois (see photo) asked for an addition to the schedule for the UCPR committee of the whole agenda. She wanted counties council to send a letter of congratulations to Valérie Plante, newly-elected mayor of Montréal, who defeated Denis Coderre’s bid for re-election on Nov. 5.
“I think this is something absolutely remarkable,” said Mayor Charlebois, adding that Plante is the first female mayor of Montréal in the four centuries that the city has existed. Montréal has had elected mayors for almost two centuries since Jacques Viger was named to the post in 1833, the year following the city’s official incorporation.
The rest of the mayors on counties council were lukewarm about the request, with a couple of them suggesting that the UCPR should also send congratulations to Tom Arnold, newly-elected mayor for Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, the town on the other side of the Ottawa River, right across from Hawkesbury via the Long Sault Bridge.
Mayor François St-Amour of The Nation Municipality argued that UCPR council should either congratulate all newly-elected mayors of Québec or none of them, and not single out one for special attention. Charlebois replied that Plante’s election may not seem important “because she is a woman” to which St-Amour said right away “Don’t go there, that is not what I said.”
UCPR Warden Gary Barton rebuked Charlebois for her remark and asked for a council vote on the request. Charlebois cast the sole vote for sending official congratulations to Mayor Plante.
Mayor Robert Kirby of East Hawkesbury noted that it should be left to individual municipal councils to decide if they wanted to send congratulations to Plante or any other mayor in Québec regarding their election win.
“I certainly will,” said Mayor Charlebois.