An investigation by the Direction des enquêtes et des pursuits en intégrité municipale (DEPIM) of the Commission municipal du Québec has determined that the municipality of the Township of Dundee engaged in “irregularities and practices contrary to the Municipal Code” between November 2020 and March 2021.
The report, issued by the Commission’s Municipal integrity investigations and prosecutions branch (DEPIM) on September 9, concludes that council members in Dundee held deliberations and made decisions in caucus, rather than in open session as required by law.
The report notes that Mayor Linda Gagnon “provided little information, and that resolutions and by-laws were passed without a minimum of consideration.” The decisions were then erroneously recorded in the minutes as they included details, explanations, and information that were not revealed during the formal meeting. The minutes, which falsely suggested deliberations took place during the meeting, were then approved by the council.
Other irregularities were also noted regarding the content of minutes recorded by the director general, then Christian Genest, which were approved by council. The report raises the example of the bylaw adopting the 2021 budget estimates, which appears in the minutes without having been discussed during the formal meeting. The bylaw does not even appear on the agenda.
The DEPIM report states that “In addition to amounting to wrongdoing against the Municipality of the Township of Dundee, these failures place the municipality at risk in a number of ways by directly affecting the validity of its actions.”
It goes on to note that Gagnon acknowledged that “Sometimes deliberations were made in caucus and only the ‘principal,’ or council decisions, were announced in public meetings.” The mayor explains this took place while closed session meetings were being recorded due to the pandemic, and that she and other council members were intimidated by this approach.
The report also confirms the director general recognized he falsified minutes, but says he was acting transparently and in good faith. He acknowledged mistakes were made and blamed the heavy workload as part of the cause.
The report recommends council members and municipal staff be updated on the legal framework of the Municipal Code, and that they review practices concerning the management of public meetings. It notes that Gagnon confirms she is committed to following through on the recommendations and has already begun to implement some of them.
Dundee now has until November 15 to inform the Commission of any corrective measures put in place.