Accuses mayor of being capricious with the law
By Geneviève April
Jacques Foucher followed through on his threat to contest Mayor Marc Demers’s election. On Nov. 29, Foucher petitioned Quebec Superior Court to declare Demers ineligible to run Laval, because he hadn’t resided in the city for a full 12 months prior to the Nov. 3 municipal election.
The court case was a dramatic reversal for Foucher, who ran against Demers as an independent candidate. Foucher was the first of Demers’ opponents to declare that he would respect the choice expressed by Laval voters.
Foucher told The Suburban last week that he changed his mind after long reflection, and has decided to embark on what he calls a question of principle. Lawyers Charles Caza and Rino Soucy offer to waive their fees to removed the final obstacle to bringing the case before the court.
“A culture of illegality has been in place in Laval for 40 years, where people accept illegal actions and look away,” asserted Foucher. “That has to change.”
He continued by stating that electing an ineligible mayor won’t improve matters. He stated unequivocally that while he respects voters’ choice, he can’t abide the way he believes that Demers has “twisted the law” to suit his own ambition.
Made the law moot
Foucher also hopes that his initiative will force legislators to amend the current law, which allows ineligible candidates to run for office.
“No one, be it the municipal and provincial chief returning officers or the Municipal Affairs ministry, can intervene until the election is over.
In this specific case, the candidate chose to run on the assumption that—even if it was illegal—he would gain enough time to run again, legally, should his eligibility be contested [successfully]. It is unacceptable for Demers to begin a mandate that isn’t legal,” explained Foucher. “There has to be a way for our [democratic] institutions to prevent these things before to an election and avoid loopholes.”
When asked why Laval’s voters should have to fork over an estimated $1.3 million to hold a byelection, if the court invalidates Demers’ election Foucher replied that it’s Demers’ fault.
“That’s not my doing,” Foucher emphasized. “He’s the one who rolled the dice and, by doing so forced Laval’s population to pay if he loses his bet.
He’s telling Laval citizens ‘I’ll go ahead with my manoeuvre and, if there’s a problem, you’ll pay for it.’ If he hadn’t taken this gamble, there wouldn’t be a problem today.”
Foucher filed the court case as an individual citizen and not on behalf of any citizen’s group or association. He asserted that by taking up a cause like this one, he represents all those who share his view.
“I’m a citizen who is doing what he thinks is right,” he said. “After I announced that I would make this challenge, several people declared that approve of the initiative. I spoke with Claire Lebel, Guy Landry, and Robert Bordeleau has already made his position on the subject widely known.”
Jacques Foucher doesn’t know whether he will run again, should a byelection be called, but has called on Demers to commit not to run, should the court rule against the mayor.
“Logically, if Mr. Demers was elected illegally, he shouldn’t run in a subsequent byelection. It would fly in the face of democracy, integrity and the spirit of the law.”
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