• Stuart Benson

Duelling legal opinions remain undisclosed over the role of Cantley’s mayor

Cantley Mayor Madeleine Brunette claims to have paid $900 out-of-pocket to obtain her own, counter, legal opinion to the one obtained by council from Montreal Law firm Dufresne Hébert Comeau Avocats on Aug. 8.

By Stuart Benson

After Cantley municipal council received a legal opinion from Montreal Law firm Dufresne Hébert Comeau Avocats on Aug. 8, Mayor Madeleine Brunette claims to have paid $900 out-of-pocket to obtain her own, counter, legal opinion; neither of which will be disclosed to the public.

Council had paid $1,200 to the law firm, which argued that only the Commission municipale du Québec can apply the principles of the code of ethics and professional conduct of councillors and that in no case can a mayor impose a reprimand or sanction.

In response to the law firm’s opinion, Brunette paid for her own legal advice, explaining that her decision to do so was based on the feeling that “it was more of a personal situation.”

“The [second] opinion, [which] I got from a firm in the area – not in Montreal because I encourage local purchasing of goods and services – shows that there are nuances to the role of mayor compared to the one given to the council.”

However, Brunette is choosing to keep her legal opinion confidential, including the identity of the firm she received it from, arguing that since the council voted not to publicly disclose the opinion they paid for with tax-payer money, she shouldn't be required to disclose her’s.

“I wanted to share my opinion, but since I paid for it, I don't believe I have to disclose it,” Brunette explained.

The initial legal opinion, which the council voted unanimously to seek out a week after a contentious council meeting July 24 where the mayor vetoed the council’s decision, revolves around a letter of reprimand the mayor sent to councillor Jean-Nicolas de Bellefeuille concerning alleged “rude words” the councillor directed at three municipal inspectors. According to the mayor, the three inspectors had been sent to assess a citizen’s request for an exemption from municipal bylaws for a swimming pool and de Bellefeuille was present, as he wished for the exemption to be granted more quickly than the normal waiting period. The mayor alleges that in emails the inspectors sent to the director-general of the municipality, the officials reported a number of “rude words” that the counsellor used.

De Bellefeuille has consistently stated that the allegations against him are unfounded and at a special council meeting on July 21, he proposed a resolution to mandate the firm Dufresne Hébert Comeau Avocats for a maximum amount of $1,200 to examine the roles and responsibilities of the mayor.

Brunette said that she had reached out to de Bellefeuille prior to the council obtaining the legal opinion in hopes of mediation with the assistance of a third-party, but said she has yet to hear back from the councillor. De Bellefeuille did not return The Low Down’s request for comment by publishing deadline.

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