Di Fruscia defects to Option Laval
By Robert Frank
Mouvement lavallois (ML) members elected five candidates for city council, Aug. 12, in municipal districts where more than one of its members sought the nomination, the municipal party said in a statement.
“In each of those districts, it was our members who chose who would carry our banner into the election,” crowed ML mayoral candidate Marc Demers. “In all the other municipal parties, it’s the leader who appoints the people whom he will campaign with. That makes ML more representative of the electorate than any other party.”
“Approximately 323 members in these five districts chose from among one another,” added party founder and St. Bruno district candidate David de Cotis. “It was a long and convoluted process.”
ML said that Christiane Yoakim will run in Val des Arbres district, although the party’s unilingual-French website still stated that Tristan Desjardins-Drouin was the party’s candidate there, when The Suburban went to press.
The four other democratically anointed candidates were Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier (Auteuil); Alain Lecompte (Orée des Bois); Anthony Giosi (Fabreville); and Virginie Dufour (Ste. Rose).
Still bleeding candidates
A sixth candidate was also supposed to be elected, Aug. 12. However, in another high-profile defection, Jean Sébastien di Fruscia, a candidate for councillor in Souvenir-Labelle district, reportedly jumped ship to run for incumbent Councillor Claire le Bel’s newly formed Option Laval party.
Le Bel remains the only serving member of former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt’s party to bid for the mayor’s office since July 8, when interim mayor Alexandre Duplessis quietly pulled the plug on his run at re-election.
The current interim mayor, Martine Beaugrand, stated on assuming office that she had no wish to run for mayor in November. She plans instead to campaign for re-election to her seat as city councillor for Fabreville.
Di Fruscia’s desertion follows the departure of the party’s vice-president Emilio Migliozzi, who crossed over to Jean-Claude Gobé’s Action Laval party.
Their exits highlight the difficulty of holding together a party with as disparate viewpoints as ML.
The party’s mayoral candidate Marc Demers told The Suburban during a June interview that he welcomes ML’s broad diversity and ML’s likely candidate in Abord à Plouffe, the affable Vassilios Karidogiannis, has been urging the party to include English in the party’s publicity and French-only website.
At the other end of the spectrum is Jean Coupal, ML’s candidate in Souvenir-Labelle (though the party’s website still showed him as running in Renaud when The Suburban went to press this week).
Supported by a small group of vociferous fellow language activists during the Jan. 14 council meeting, Coupal loudly denounced the Laval’s policy of distributing of an English version of the city newsletter Vivre à Laval to homes in Chomedey, together with the French version.
Coupal’s action prompted Laval Liberal caucus leader Guy Ouellette to voice concern about how Péquiste policies have emboldened a handful of language activists to try to stop Laval from serving its citizens in any language other than French.
Despite Demers’ Péquiste pedigree, he unequivocally assured The Suburban that he intends to respect English Laval residents’ rights. The strident anti-English campaigning has nonetheless left many remaining ML members wondering to what extent he will serve the interests of Laval’s non-francophone community, if he is elected.
“We, as a majority, have to ask ourselves whether we’re doing good,” Ouellette asserted in the aftermath of Coupal’s expression of intolerance. “We have to be unafraid of making decisions that are in the public interest.”
“Bill 101 is the law and we have to follow it, despite the rights of others?” the Chomedey MNA asked rhetorically. “That’s not the sort of society that we want to live in. We want to have an open society that fosters respect.”
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