The mayor of Gracefield, in the Outaouais, chose to plead guilty on Monday to three major breaches of municipal ethics and professional conduct.
During the hearing of the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ), Réal Rochon acknowledged on several occasions:
– disrespecting municipal employees and managers;
– have placed themselves in a situation of conflict of interest;
– to have taken advantage of his status as mayor to influence elected officials, employees and managers of his city, so that files are treated separately in the general interest.
Mr. Rochon has been at the head of the city of 2,518 inhabitants located an hour’s drive north of Gatineau, since the last election in 2017.
He had been mayor of the same municipality for 20 years before being defeated in the 2013 poll.
The allegations against Mr. Rochon all occurred within the framework of this mandate.
However, some are subject to a publication ban so as not to interfere with other legal processes already under way.
It’s him, the boss
On the other hand, it was notably possible to learn that during the floods of spring 2019, Mr. Rochon influenced the order of the treatment of the victims to favor some of them by putting pressure on the person in charge of emergency measures.
He also used to openly criticize the work of managers, reminding them that he is the boss and make requests directly to employees rather than going through the general manager as provided by law.
90 day suspension
“If I plead guilty, it is because from the beginning, I have always wanted to settle out of court to avoid costs to my municipality that I have tattooed on my heart”, indicated Mr. Rochon at the end of the hearing. .
By pleading guilty, he avoided two weeks of hearings depending on the evidence that had been gathered.
The CMQ prosecutor and Mr. Rochon’s lawyers suggest that he be suspended from his duties for 90 days without pay.
In addition, Mr. Rochon, who has already announced his retirement from political life at the end of his mandate, undertakes never to run for mayor again and to follow ethics training once again.
Judge Thierry Usclat, of the Commission municipale du Québec, is expected to present his decision by March 8.