I read your story on the upcoming municipal elections with interest (“Candidate rumours fly as elections loom,” Sept. 11 edition).
I did want to clarify one thing to which you referred to: namely, that “La Peche 20/20 has yet to unveil any candidates.”
In August, a group of citizens hosted a public meeting in Masham, during which it was clarified that La Peche 20/20 is not a partisan organization designed to field candidates for the elections. Quebec’s electoral laws protect the fairness of the political playing field by making sure there are no shadow organizations that can circumvent spending limits.
There had been a group in La Peche that, one the one hand, wanted both greater accountability, participation, and transparency in municipal affairs, and, on the other hand, to field new candidates for election as the best means of doing so.
Unfortunately a single group can’t do both, because the objectivity of the former could be called into question by the partisanship of the latter.
So the original group divided into two distinct organizations.
La Peche 20/20 is now officially a private intervenor group devoted to the promotion of transparency and accountability in La Peche. It seeks to look at the best practices for municipal governance and to make recommendations along those lines. We want more political involvement in the upcoming election, and to make sure all candidates address questions citizens might have about governance. We exist as a website and can only officially register with the Quebec government 40 days before the election. We cannot recruit or endorse candidates, or, by implication, criticize any either.
There is a fine line, of course, between suggesting how our governance could be better, and criticizing those in charge of that governance. But our position is that the political status quo is not the specific fault of the existing mayor and council: they have inherited practices that may or may not be acceptable to the citizenry. La Peche 20/20’s job is simply to shine a bright light at those practices so that citizens are better informed.
Our work is akin to that of the Ligue d’action civique (LDAC) du Quebec, a group that works to combat the corruption of municipal politics exposed by the Charbonneau Commission. We don’t have any reason to believe that such corruption exists in La Peche but, as every political expert agrees, the best protection against future corruption is greater civic participation in every part of the political process.
There is another group that has been actively recruiting candidates and has a specific vision for development and reform that is unique to La Peche. They are, in other words, partisan, and will be working to bring new voices to the election to contest the status quo.
Andrew Johnston and Bettina Koschade
La Peche, QC