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Press release
8 September 2020

Saint-Jérôme : Why a Referendum During COVID-19 Times?

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Over the past few days, Saint-Jérôme’s City Council has decided that open a register and give its citizens until September 9th to express their opposition to building a sports complex at a cost of over $30M. This process could potentially lead to a referendum being held.

Many of the citizens who feel that their rights have been infringed upon mentioned not having access to the technology that would allow them to oppose the project within the short time allotted, in addition to needing to provide the required documents. As for the postal service, there is significant uncertainty due to possible delivery delays.

Why has the Minister of Municipal Affairs abstained from intervening in the interest of the citizens of Saint-Jérôme, and citizens throughout Quebec as a whole, when the moment is clearly inopportune for holding public consultations on issues that are this important and consequential for our municipalities’ finances? And without providing citizens with the time and means to have their voices heard on top of it all!

The population of Saint-Jérôme is entitled to exercise their democratic rights in conditions that allow everyone to vote. This requires the Minister’s intervention; she must ensure that no municipal administration takes advantage of the current health crisis to override the democratic principles that guide our political action.

As a former mayor and prefect, I wince when elected offices choose to use a process as important as a referendum during a time of global pandemic. What prevents these municipal officials from waiting until the end of the unprecedented health crisis so that citizens can exercise their rights? That’s democracy! So, I share the concerns of a population that wants to have its voice heard and wants to ensure transparency in the referendum process.

–Marie-Claude Nichols, MNA representing Vaudreuil and Official Opposition Critic for Municipal Affairs.

I am appealing to people’s common sense and, like my colleague, I am asking the Minister of Municipal Affairs to get involved so that democracy can prevail in this important file.

–Christine St-Pierre, MNA representing Acadie and Official Opposition Critic responsible for the Laurentides region.