Former Chelsea, Quebec planning member decries unsubstantiated allegations


by admin on April 13, 2011

The Editor,


An open letter from Robert Chaffers:

To my friends and fellow citizens of Chelsea, Quebec thank you for your support and encouragement. It seems that unsubstantiated statements and allegations, etc., can easily become perceived truths if left uncorrected, so I’m obliged to speak up on behalf of myself and my community.

The unsubstantiated “serious allegations” by the mayor and council on Dec. 13 against myself as one of their volunteer citizen committee members, the “findings” of their secret, three-month investigation, my unexplained dismissal from the Planning Committee, presumably because they had found me guilty of some unknown offence, have naturally provoked suspicions and mistrust.

Subsequent statements and claims of “protecting my reputation” to justify total secrecy have simply deepened the suspicions and mistrust of my loyalty to my community, and thus my character and trustworthiness. All those who do not know me well have no other basis than the words and actions of their “responsible” local government to trust or not, whatever I may say or do in the future. I do not need to elaborate the obvious implications of this situation consciously created by my local government.

Of  greater significance to the on-going well-being of our community and the credibility required by any government in a democracy to be able to function, is the simultaneous  loss of trust by a population that is deprived of understanding critical Council decisions made on their behalf, by the unjustified secrecy cloaking this and other issues.

If the treatment of this citizen volunteer is the consequence for asking informed questions  relating to the “public interest,” that the mayor and her staff would prefer not be asked, why should any citizen committed to the “public interest” be motivated to volunteer for service?

I am therefore obliged to continue to defend myself in my community until the mayor and council have completely eradicated the foul odour of suspicion and mistrust that now envelops all involved, by permitting the actual truth to speak for itself. I repeat again my request to make available for public scrutiny every aspect of the situation that led to the original allegations, (if necessary back to the correspondence with a developer dissatisfied by my questions and committee membership), all aspects of their “investigation,” and the consequent decision of council to dismiss me from the Municipal Planning Committee.

Because I was completely excluded from their secret “investigation,” I have no idea of the degree of shamefulness and damage to the “public interest” of Chelsea that they believe was caused by my crimes against my fellow citizens, that they characterized as “serious.” Hopefully, my memory isn’t too far gone. So let us all see for ourselves everything we ask for, not just a few carefully selected documents to suit their purposes. Release me from my commitment to confidentiality as a member of the committee and let me share with my fellow citizens, my knowledge of the issues that prompted my problematic questions.

I have no doubt that my fellow citizens can fully deal with this situation and come out the stronger for it. I intend to spend the rest of my life here in my community, hopefully well past the upcoming bicentennial of my heritage-laden village. There is no reason but apathy why we cannot regain the  shared basic values of a community in which nature predominates and we all respect her limits and each other.


Robert Chaffers

Old Chelsea, Quebec