The Mayor of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge intends to launch a full legal defence against an attempt by Québec’s municipal oversight agency to have him removed from office.

“To the best of my knowledge,I have always acted in compliance with the law, with due diligence and in the best interest of our citizens. I therefore intend to defend myself before the court when the time comes,” said Tom Arnold in a prepared statement. He is making no further comments on the issue.

Arnold’s statement was issued following an action filed in Québec Superior Court by the Commission Municipale du Québec (CMQ), which alleges Arnold acted improperly in the negotiation of a contract for winter road sand in 2022. The action issued by the CMQ resulted from a complaint filed with the agency by an unspecified party. The CMQ action document contains no information to substantiate its claims.

Law changed in 2022

In 2022, legislative changes were made to the Québec Municipal Code that allow the CMQ to ask a Superior Court Justice to have a mayor or any member of a municipal council declared unfit for office and be impeached. The changes were made because of the Charbonneau Commission, which investigated corruption and collusion involving the construction industry and government contracts.

The CMQ’s action naming Arnold as the defendant was filed with the Superior Court of Terrebonne District in St-Jérôme on March 27, 2023. Arnold was recently served with the action document by a bailiff.


The document alleges that on or around March 30, 2022, the municipality opened submissions of proposals it had received for the supply of 6,000 metric tonnes of winter road sand. The submission with the lowest cost was from Excavation et Terrassement Heatlie for $8.00 per tonne. The total cost of the sand would have been $48,000, in addition to 13 cents per metric tonne per kilometre, or $18,000 for delivery.

According to the court document, on or around September 14, 2022, the supplier informed the municipality that it could not follow through with its offer because it no longer had enough sand for the needs of the municipality. Also, on or around that date, David Riddell Excavation/Transport, which had submitted the second-lowest cost offer, confirmed it was able to fulfil an order for 6,000 tonnes of sand.

The CMQ action alleges that on September 28, 2022, the defendant was informed that the sand contract was to be adjudicated and passed to David Riddell and that a resolution was submitted to council for eventual approval. The document says there was an exchange of emails between the mayor and the administrative assistant in the Department of Public Works confirming this plan.

However, the document alleges that the mayor instructed the public works assistant to contact Asphalte et Pavage RF, which had originally submitted the highest bid at $12.75 per tonne and 75 cents per tonne per kilometre for delivery. The purpose of the mayor’s instruction was to obtain a new, lower price than the $76,500 the RF offer originally cost. The document alleges that under the mayor’s direction, the assistant contacted RF and obtained a reduced price of $10.45 per tonne. It is further alleged that also on September 28, the mayor contacted Transport Heatlie directly and negotiated a price for the delivery of the RF sand to the municipality’s three public works depots. Transport Heatlie is a separate business from Excavation et Terassement Heatlie.

On October 11, 2022, council adopted the resolution approving a purchase of 6,000 tonnes of sand from RF for $62,700 plus sales tax and delivery costs from Transport Heatlie for $33,000 plus sales tax. The total cost of the purchase, before sales tax is $95,700.

The action document notes Transport Heatlie was not a submitter of an offer in the initial call for proposals.

The document says Transport Heatlie does not hold a brokerage license issued under Québec’s Transport Law and is therefore not allowed to be part of a contract with a municipality.

In its concluding paragraphs, the CMQ action filed in Superior Court alleges the mayor adjudicated and authorized a contract without knowing the rules and violated the law requiring contracts valued at $25,000 or more to be adjudicated through a call for proposals. It also alleges the mayor unlawfully negotiated with a supplier and did not inform the Director General of his actions. The document suggests that when council unanimously voted to approve the contract, the mayor should have used his right to vote and vetoed the resolution.

Recommendation and reaction

The CMQ requests a Superior Court Justice declare the mayor unfit for office and unable to exercise the function of mayor, and that he be prohibited from holding municipal office for two years, notwithstanding an appeal.

Councillor Natalia Czarnecka said the rest of council was not informed of the CMQ’s decision and that the mayor was served with the papers.

The Superior Court has 17 days to respond to the CMQ’s action. As the action was issued on March 27, the deadline for the court to respond is April 13. Arnold will continue to exercise his duties as Mayor of Grenville sur-la-Rouge.