Commission recommends extensive governance and workplace reforms for Sherbrooke

Commission recommends extensive governance and workplace reforms for Sherbrooke
Sherbrooke Mayor Évelyne Beaudin announced May 3 she is stepping down as head of the Sherbrooke Citoyen party and will not pursue re-election for mayor at the end of her mandate (Photo : William Crooks)

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative

The Commission Municipale du Québec (CMQ) has issued a report June 11 on the City of Sherbrooke, identifying significant issues in governance and workplace environment and recommending comprehensive reforms. This follows a request for mediation from Sherbrooke’s city council due to difficulties in advancing projects amidst a tense atmosphere. Sherbrooke has responded by establishing a new governance committee tasked to oversee an action plan.

The recommendation follows two councillors recently resigning from significant public service roles, who cited pressure and threats as their reasons for stepping down. On Feb. 6, Councillor Annie Godbout requested mediation from the CMQ. According to a report from Radio Canada, Godbout submitted a notice of proposal at the council meeting that evening, urging the Municipality to seek external mediation services to address the “tense climate” at City Hall.

Sherbrooke councillor Marc Denault resigned as president of the Société de transport de Sherbrooke (STS) on Jan. 23, citing lies and pressure that led to his decision. He stated, “There are people who lied, who pushed me to resign and I’m the one experiencing the collateral damage the most.”

Denault, who served as president for 10 years and as vice president for four years prior, resigned after being excluded from a meeting with provincial Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility Geneviève Guilbault by Sherbrooke Mayor Évelyne Beaudin’s office.

According to Denault, the mayor’s chief of staff, Steve Roy, informed him that Guilbault’s office chose to exclude him. However, Guilbault denied any involvement, saying, “In no case did I or my team say that we didn’t want Mr. Denault to attend,” and emphasized, “It’s up to [the mayor’s] discretion to invite who she wishes.”

Denault added, “I resigned because the trust relationship was broken and because they lied to me. I resigned because of my values.” Denault’s resignation was followed a few weeks later by those of Roy and Philippe Pagé, coordinator of communications for the mayor of Sherbrooke.

In April, Councillor Danielle Berthold resigned as chair of the city executive committee after receiving a phone call from Beaudin, which she interpreted as threatening. On the evening of April 8, Berthold informed Beaudin of her intention to vote against a new pool tax. In response, Beaudin stated, “When we’re on the executive committee, we need to stick together, and if not, there will be consequences.” Berthold considered this a threat, stating, “I don’t do threats.”

Beaudin confirmed the conversation to The Record, explaining, “I told [Berthold] that in life, when you make decisions, it comes with consequences, and when you change sides, there are always consequences. When you vote to break the budget, there are consequences.”

A few days after leaving the executive committee, Berthold was relieved of her role as chairperson of Sherbrooke council by Beaudin. The mayor justified the decision saying it was more efficient for the council chair to have a seat on the executive.

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