By Robert Frank
Despite all the pre-election bluster about Marc Demers not having lived in Laval long enough to be eligible to run for mayor, none of the leading candidates for mayor has opted to contest his election.
“It’s up to Elections Quebec to decide,” runner-up Jean-Claude Gobé said in a statement. “For my part, I plan to refrain from opposing it. Laval voted knowing full well what they were doing, and I will therefore respect their democratic choice.”
Even if it were to find that Demers ran when he was ineligible to do so, the most severe sanction that the Director General of Elections could impose would be a $2,000 fine, Elections Quebec spokesman Carl Charest told The Suburban.
“We can’t remove someone from office,” he explained. “To do so, someone who was eligible to vote in the latest Laval election would have to petition Quebec Superior Court to disqualify the ineligible individual from office.”
Another mayoral runner-up, Robert Bordeleau, told The Suburban in an interview that “it’s unfair to expect individual citizens to pay as much as $20,000 in legal fees to challenge that illegal candidacy. I continue to consider [Demers’] election illegal. The Municipal Affairs Ministry and Elections Quebec ought to be doing that job—and ought to do so before the election takes place.”
“While we accept the verdict of the voters, we continue to say that they were misinformed about Demers’ eligibility,” Bordeleau said, indicating that he will not be contesting the election at this time.
He added that another member of his Parti au Service du Citoyen, Normand Vallée, has brought a complaint before Elections Quebec, as well as another, private Laval resident.
Charest subsequently acknowledged that Elections Quebec has received at least one complaint and that it has opened an investigation. He could not specify how long it would take to complete.
“Each case is different,” Charest said, “and there is no time limit for the investigation of complaints.”
Even if Demers loses, he wins
Independent mayoral candidate Jacques Foucher also threw in the towel on challenging the election.
“We’re clearly moving from a Liberal controlled [civic administration] to Parti Québécois control,” he contended in a statement. “I would have preferred a more open, more democratic government. Clearly, my fellow citizens have decided to follow the same path as they have since Laval was formed, in the hope that, this time, the outcome will be different. It’s an illusion.”
“For many people, myself included, the first reaction is to welcome a challenge to the new mayor find him ineligible for office,” Foucher continued. “On reflection, I realized that it’s not in the best interest of our city to do so.”
He noted with irony that—if by-election were to be called—Demers would by then be eligible to run.
“All we’d end up doing would be wasting money on partisan squabbles,” Foucher lamented.
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