Citizens who intimidate or harass municipal elected officials and staff members in Lachute, will not be tolerated.

On May 1, council adopted a resolution calling for the city to mobilize its efforts against intimidation and harassment by citizens toward councillors and municipal staff members, The motion also expresses support for the administration to establish a policy ensuring respect for staff and employees.

Councillor Guylaine Cyr-Desforges read the resolution, which was seconded by Councillor Hugo Lajoie. The resolution explains questions and comments are an essential part of democracy, but respect and civility must be maintained.

Council’s decision affirms an announcement made on April 25 by Québec Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Andree Laforest emphasizing how municipal councillors and employees are people and deserve respect like anyone else.

The Minister’s announcement follows an action plan to foster respect and civility in interactions with municipal government which was unveiled in October 2021. The government also provided $2 million in financial assistance to the Union des municipalités de Québec (UMQ) and the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) so they could offer financial support to municipalities that have taken legal action or wish to do so to compel a citizen to stop intimidating or harassing staff members or an elected municipal official. The Minister also plans to assist the FQM and UMQ with extending their existing employee assistance program to elected officials who may require psychological support because of being intimidated or harassed by individuals.

“Behind every member of staff and every elected official, there is a human who deserves to be treated like a person! We therefore act concretely, both in prevention and awareness, to fight against bullying and disrespectful behavior. Such behaviors cause a great deal of damage to the people concerned as well as to their colleagues, their families, their children, and those around them. Society and democracy also suffer,” Laforest said.

An awareness campaign against the intimidation or municipal officials was also carried out across Québec in late April and for most of May.

“The city of Lachute vigorously denounces intimidation by certain citizens of members of its services, elected officials, and its employees,” Cyr-Desforges said while reading the resolution adopted by council on May 1.

The resolution also noted that the city of Lachute has had to contact the Sûreté du Québec in recent months due to inappropriate behaviour directed at elected officials and municipal employees.

“Intimidation has no place, ever,” said Mayor Bernard Bigras-Denis.

He remarked how social media has unfortunately played a role in contributing to uncivil interactions between citizens and municipal officials.

Bigras-Denis said he always welcomes debate and discussion, but it must be respectful.