City’s current multiculture committee hasn’t seen action in a year, claims Chomedey councillor
A motion by Chomedey councillor Aglaia Revelakis, that a new and “non-partisan” committee be created and mandated to conduct a public consultation before producing a report on relations between the city, the police and Laval’s multicultural communities, was rejected during the August city council – although most opposition councillors supported it.
While council already has a committee in place to discuss and consider multicultural issues, Revelakis, a member of the Action Laval opposition, suggested in her resolution that she should be named to preside the proposed new committee whose members would be appointed on a non-partisan basis.
“We are asking that a special non-partisan committee be formed,” Revelakis explained about the motion which was seconded by Saint-Bruno city councillor David De Cotis.
“In voting against this proposal, you, as official representatives of the Laval population, would be voting against the fundamental responsibility in your role as elected officials, which is to consult the population,” she continued.
Although he voted against the proposal, Mayor Marc Demers said he agreed with Revelakis’s assertion that committees should always be non-partisan in order to do their work properly. However, he added that the existing committee was already doing good work and there was no point duplicating it.
Councillor Sandra Desmeules, the executive-committee member responsible for public safety, reacted by suggesting that Revelakis’s motion drew inspiration from the recent upheaval in the U.S., where the slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis led to months of public protests against racism and widespread demands for the reform of police departments.
‘You don’t understand the role of an elected official,’ said Revelakis, claiming a city councillor’s primary role is to consult constituents
“We have launched an initiative to throw some new light on the Laval Police Department and this initiative is to come to better understand, to analyze and to improve our relations with members of the multicultural communities,” said Desmeules, maintaining that Laval is already doing what Revelakis’s resolution was suggesting.
Councillor Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier, who is of Haitian origin, also defended the Mouvement lavallois administration’s efforts to improve relations with Laval’s multicultural communities.
“There is already a committee that was created with cultural communities, and this committee is very representative with people of all origins, including Québécois, Italians and Greeks,” she said, while suggesting the councillors should vote against Revelakis’s proposal because a multicultural affairs committee is already in place.
While saying that he didn’t disagree with the idea, Councillor Michel Trottier (who leads the official opposition Parti Laval) said the existing committee “is doing its job now. It will be gathering information, and after that I am confident that the information will be presented in a report. After that, the decision will be up to us.” He said a second committee would be redundant.
Councillor David De Cotis (Saint-Bruno) said he found Revelakis’s proposal to be “appropriate,” taking into account the great number of multicultural communities in her district. He also had no objection to her being the new committee’s president.
Role of elected official
Responding to Desmeules, Revelakis said, “Unfortunately you don’t understand the role of an elected official.” To Frédéric-Gauthier she continued, “Everything you brought up has nothing to do with my proposal.” She also told executive-committee vice-president Stéphane Boyer that the city’s current multicultural affairs committee hasn’t done anything for the past year.
Among the city councillors voting no to the resolution were Parti Laval councillors Michel Trottier and Claude Larochelle, as well as independent opposition councillor Daniel Hébert. Opposition councillors Revelakis, De Cotis, Galati, Tassoni and Poissant voted in favour.
Action Laval issued a statement afterwards, saying that Revelakis “was profoundly disappointed by the partisan view of her colleagues on the municipal council. During the vote on the creation of a committee on the Relations between the cultural communities and the police, the municipal councillors prudently hid themselves behind their leader.
Action Laval disappointed
“Whether it concerns management of the international pandemic crisis or relations with the minority cultural communities, the population is increasingly distrustful,” added Revelakis. “The people of Laval want to see their elected officials working together for the good of all and in the interests of each.”
The party said that “while the City recognizes that the diversity of its municipal council is an absolute necessity, it is sad to see that partisanship is causing division.
“While this richness might have strengthened the sense of belonging for citizens of Laval from diverse origins and would have supported direct communication with the highest levels in the City, it is still the political parties that get the last word. The representatives of the population won’t have the opportunity to do what they were elected for.”