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We get letters and feedback through emails and from the
Canaan Connexion Message Centre (CCMC)
(Note: The opinions registered here are those of the writers
and do not reflect those of the Canaan Connexion. Also...
YOU are welcome to reply, comment or add a rebuttal to the information. -Ed.)

Clarence-Rockland - A Special Kind of City
(Prime Minister) Harper's Disdain for the Rule of Law

Time to Get Real About the Clarence-Rockland Arena
Rockland resident requests "immediate resignation" of certain council members

Ward 5 Councillor Félio clarifies Council's position on Agenda Item 15.7 ("gun store" permit)
Rockland resident André Branchaud comments on the 3rd edition of the latest T-Mousse Journal

Reader takes exception to Councillor Félio's statement in the Vision newspaper supplement
The good and the bad on Councillor Félio's presentation

The Ombudsman's core message to City Council and its response

Councillor Félio put Mayor Guibord in a bad light

Félio's political doctrine clearly revealed during the debate on the price of bus passes
Reader applauds new Chamber of Commerce, expresses concerns of possible City intervention
C-R Mayor questioned on his objections surrounding the Question Period
Fernand Dumaine: Let's not dilute our (Christmas) traditions lest we offend immigrants

Clarence-Rockland City Council’s Report Card - June 2011
Dr. Felio: "He and his wife are famous"

Patrick Meikle's views on Question Period during the 11 April Council Meeting

A flagrant lack of transparency

Diane Choinière wants to hire Stéphane Lalonde
Radio Canada seems to allege Mayor Guiboard has lied

Municipal Council meeting of January 10, 2011

The agreement is dead for now

The so called "blank" cheque agreement is not dead yet
Response to Patrick's Blog on "Gutter Press"
City of Clarence-Rockland honours long-time volunteer firefighter Gilbert Labelle

Local Tim Hortons Restaurants serious about environment
Baseline Road should be called BADline Road!!

Keep up the good work

If you would like to join in on the debate, you can leave your comments on our:
Canaan Connexion Message Centre (CCMC)
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Clarence-Rockland - A Special Kind of City

(Tuesday, June 9, 2015) Before moving to Clarence Rockland from Orleans five years ago I did my research and felt I had a pretty good handle on what to expect from my newly adopted municipality. I’d be lying though, if I said I didn’t have any concerns at all about how my “big city” lifestyle with all its rhythms and conveniences would be affected. I was sure things would change by moving to a smaller community; I just didn’t know how.

Things indeed changed, but in a most positive way
One of the most dramatic differences I’ve come to appreciate is that smaller communities seem to care more – a great deal more - about their residents. Maybe it’s just my perception or I’m noticing it more simply because we are smaller and that kind of value or characteristic stands out better.

One example of how this “caring community” manifests itself is in the incredible spirit of volunteerism in our municipality. Identify a need in Clarence-Rockland and you don’t have to look too far to find a group working diligently to address that need! From service clubs such as the Knights of Columbus, to special interest group, to one-off fundraisers, people in Clarence-Rockland do one thing particularly well – they help each other out in times of need.

A case in point is “Maggie’s Place” a sanctuary for lost or abandoned dogs founded in October 2012 and run by one of our residents, Katalin Poor. Maggie’s Place works with the City to find suitable homes for abandoned dogs or to re-unite lost dogs with their rightful owners.

Its track record is testament to its success. Before October 2012, dogs were held at the City pound for 72 hours and, if not claimed, were euthanized. Between 2006 and 2011, an average of 14 dogs a year were euthanized annually. Since Maggie’s Place opened, only one dog, a little old shihtzu riddled with cancer, was euthanized by the City and the rest have been re-united with owners or adopted by suitable families, some by Maggie’s Place.

While Maggie’s Place is a volunteer initiative paid for out of money raised through boarding, the costs have outrun income. Veterinary fees, dog food and fencing to ensure the dogs’ health and safety add up.

(Click on the pic to visit Maggie's Facebook page.)

Not surprisingly, Clarence-Rockland citizens have once again stepped up to the plate to take on this cause by organizing a Maggie’s Place Auction on Facebook between June 9 and 13, 2015. How unique is that? Volunteers helping other volunteers to shelter some of our helpless and homeless!
It’s that spirit that makes us a very special kind of city – and it’s that spirit that makes me so proud to be a resident.

Bob Gadoua

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Harper's Disdain for the Rule of Law

SCSC = Stop Complaining – Start Contributing: Disdain for the rule of law
(Saturday, March 22, 2014) For many years, I heard my late lawyer brother state, repeatedly, that the one thing that distinguishes civilized democratic countries from banana republics and Middle Eastern dictatorships was the rule of law. He had a Ph D from the University of London, England.

I never appreciated the profoundness of that statement then. I do now. For, what is the use of a democratic voting system if it can be circumvented by manipulating the law? The lesson came home this week as I followed the story of Stephen Harper and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Headstrong Harper tried, in the words of the Toronto Star, in an arrogant bid to throw the Constitution to the wind, to name Justice Marc Nadon to a seat on the country’s highest court that he wasn’t eligible to occupy. Fortunately for us Canadians, the composition of the highest court in the land is jealously protected by the constitution, from the whims of any Canadian prime minister. How else will we guarantee its independence from the opportunism of parasitic politicians?

Despite my unreserved applause for the decision of the Supreme Court, I felt disappointed that, on an obvious matter of law, there was one dissenting voice versus the other six – until I learned later that it came from none other than Harper’s appointee. Imagine if Harper had two or three of those!

In 2015, let us ask Harper about his 2011 pledge to rule with transparency and integrity. In 2015: LET US SEND HARPER A CLEAR MESSAGE!

Qais Ghanem, Ottawa
(Reprinted with the Author's permission, from Unpublished Ottawa.)
Dr. Qais Ghanem is a retired associate professor of medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada. He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He immigrated to Canada in 1970. He is a retired neurologist, radio show host, poet and author.

Six years ago, he created and hosted the Ottawa CHIN Radio talk show Dialogue with Diversity winner of four national awards. The talk show is now aired over CKCU.

Three years ago, he started a monthly discussion circle called Dialogue for Democracy. He is the author of a book of verse entitled From Left to Right. His first novel about democracy and 's rights in the Middle East is entitled Final Flight From Sanaa -- BAICO Publishers, Ottawa, is now in e-book format on AMAZON. It is being considered for a movie. His second novel published by iUniverse, also in e-book format, is Two Boys from Aden College. He co-authored a non-fiction book published by Create Space: My Arab Spring My Canada. He runs a busy website www.dialoguewithdiversity.com., and is a member of the Writers' Deadline!! Listserv.

NOTE: Dr. Ghanem has been shortlisted for the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2014. This is a peoples’ choice award that recognizes people who have come to Canada and have made a positive difference living here. Please have a look at the "Top 75 Finalists" and consider voting for Dr. Ghanem. If you click on an individual's photo, you will get a pop-up showing their profiles.

You may recognize some of the finalists like Arlene Dickinson for example whom you may have seen on Dragon's Den, or Member of Parliament Hedy Fry. Others include: Amrik Singh Aulakh, volunteering with the Surrey RCMP as an auxiliary constable; 92-year-old Peter Mielzynski, a winde producer, and visionary who came to Canada in 1949 after escaping the German Nazis who invaded his home and left his family with nothing. He came to Canada by boat from Holland with only $140 in gold coins; Sorin Mihailovici who amongst many other accomplishments, created Scam Detector, a smartphone and web-based application that helps people around the globe save money and prevent financial fraud by taking conscious consumer choices.

Check out the website, where you can vote for your top canadian immigrants in three easy steps!
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Time to Get Real About the Clarence-Rockland Arena

(Monday, March 24, 2014) Clarence-Rockland is a great place to live, with fine people who care about their community. It is also one of the fastest growing communities in the Province with more and more people moving into the area - setting up businesses, buying homes, raising good families and investing their skills and hard work into making our community even better. But communities are not built out of thin air. They need good: roads, sewers, schools, including good recreational facilities for healthy physical activity and to help them cope with some of the life stresses they may encounter.

Clarence-Rockland is fortunate to have all of these, including the local arena which has been serving this community since 1972, giving citizens a chance to get together, skate and play a bit of hockey. And it has produced more than its share of hockey greats, such as the 1976 National Junior A Champion Rockland Nationals, led by renowned Coach Brian Murray.

In recent years, the need for repairs and routine maintenance has put the future of this civic landmark in doubt as municipal officials weigh their options, one of the most troubling being the selling off of this key public asset. Preliminary estimates suggest its sale might bring in just over $5 million dollars, which is proving very tempting indeed for cash-hungry City Hall officials.

Selling the arena is the wrong way to go for a number of reasons. To begin with, it is a complete over-reaction, something akin to using an atom bomb to kill a fly. For, while it is true that some repairs are needed, this is a simple fact of life for any property owner. Things break down and you have to repair them. You don’t sell your house when it needs a new roof, no more than you should sell a valuable municipal asset when it needs a few repairs.

It’s also an example of short-term thinking at its worst. For ours is a growing community, with a growing population and a much bigger future ahead. To serve our growing population, we are going to need all the recreational facilities we can get – including our local arena. It is estimated that building an arena like ours would cost $8-10 million today, and at a much higher price in the future. Selling our current arena for a mere $5 million is a bad business decision, because it will cost us much more to build a replacement in the future.

The Mayor and his allies on Council must stop thinking of the arena as a liability on the municipal balance sheet, and look at the multiple opportunities in which the arena can contribute to the well-being of our community. For example, such a facility can boost the overall health of our citizens by providing a great, centrally-located community centre where families and friends can gather, enjoy healthy physical exercise and perhaps play some hockey. The resulting health benefits far outweigh any costs the City might incur in making a few repairs. In addition, a revitalized local arena will do much to stimulate economic activity in our community. One good example being the many tournaments it could host. Such tournaments are well known for bringing in much needed dollars for the communities hosting them, which is why municipalities across the Province vie for the right to host such events.

Finally, it is wrong to sell off valuable public assets, such as the arena, which was built with hard-earned taxpayer dollars, public donations, and volunteer labour, simply to enrich a few deep-pocket private investors.

Clarence-Rockland is a great place to live. But if it is to remain so in the future, we will need to build on the legacy of assets that have been passed on to us, rather than holding ‘going out of business’ liquidation sales of public assets, that merely enrich a few private investors with money to burn.

Brian Madden
President, CUPE Local 503
Representing employees of the City of Clarence-Rockland

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Rockland resident requests "immediate resignation" of certain council members

(Rockland, September 19, 2013)
(Editor's comment: This letter was sent to the three council members mentioned below as well as to those Clarence-Rockland councillors who have email addresses and to the Ottawa Citizen - Editor)

M.Guibord, Mr. Félio et Mme Choinière:

Following the criminal charges laid upon the three of you yesterday, your immediate resignation from our city council is not requested of you but EXPECTED of all three of you.

As a tax payer of this city, we are all sick and tired of the nonsense and childish behavior seen by the three of you and the ridiculous expenses you have brought upon all tax payers. All citizens of this city demand your immediate resignation from this council. The three of you created this mess with M. (Stéphane) Lalonde's backhanded help and the three of you should have to repay the tax payers all the legal expenses we had to pay because of your ignorance, arrogance and incompetence.

The citizens of this city also expect that all future legal expenses caused by this mess to be paid out of your own pockets. The citizens of this city will have a serious problem with the three of you if your legal expenses are covered by the city. You have all been criminally charged because you all did something illegal for your own interest and not the interest of this city.

Now I see that the email address of all councillors are not found on the city's website, I hope that the other councillors on this email string forward my email and any other emails received by tax payers to all other city councillors. All remaining councillors should also force the resignation of M. Guibord, Mr. Felio and Mme Choinière immediately!!!

Public signs will begin popping up everywhere until your resignations have been filed and made public!!!

Carole Gagnon
A concerned and fed up tax payer!!

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In an email response to our story: "Gun store" opens next to daycare
Rockland Ward 5 Councillor Guy Félio clarifies agenda item 15.7

Mr Meikle,

Thanks for keeping the community informed of current Clarence-Rockland affairs through your Canaan Connexion site. In regards to your article on the decision of Council regarding the Nature Pro business license, I would like to point out that even though the item (Item 15.7) was on the agenda of the meeting of August 13, it was tabled since Council had questions regarding the authority of the City not to grant this license. Council asked the City Administration to obtain a legal opinion on the matter and to come back to Council at the August 27 Special Meeting.

The subject was discussed at the August 27 Special Meeting of Council at which the Administration told Council that 1) the issue should not been brought to Council for decision since the business license application met all the current City By-laws, and 2) legally, we had no grounds to stop this
business since it proposes to set up in a property zoned commercial. As a result, Council decided to remove the resolution from the agenda and let the Administration follow the City?s business license by-law, thus effectively providing Nature Pro a business license as requested.

I hope that helps clarify the chain of events.

Guy Félio
Councillor, Ward 5

(We thank Councillor Félio for his diligence in following the Canaan Connexion and for pointing out our error. We regret our mistake and apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused. The original story has been redrafted, here. -Ed.)
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Rockland resident comments on the 3rd edition of the latest T-Mousse Journal

(This letter to the editor was posted on the Canaan Connexion Message Centre by André Branchaud on July 3, 2012. Anyone is free to add, reply or rebut:)

Clarence-Rockland lawyer Stéphane J. lalonde has published his third edition of The Ti-Mousse's Journal on 28 June this year.

Typical of the previous editions of this so-called journal, and of his previous efforts called the Musketeers' Journal, published over the the years preceding the last municipal elections, this one is full of mean and venomous attacks against ex-Mayor Richard Lalonde, the previous council and its Chief Administrative Officer, ex-MPP Jean-Marc Lalonde, one of his newspaper competitors L'ECHO Guide Inc, and anyone who has criticized his views publicly in the past.

For sheer hypocrisy, this one takes the cake. Articles with broad-brush personal attacks are accompanied with a self-serving piece describing himself as a gentleman in his approach to settling the Chamberland Crossing Limited issue with Clarence-Rockland, and with good measure another one piously announcing his installation of a statue of our Lady of Lourdes by the Clarence-Rockland Medical Center. Oh, please!

It is not my purpose here to respond to the personal attacks levelled in this edition of what, in my view, would be more accurately described as gutter press. Those who are targets of lawyer Lalonde's venom can, and should in my view, respond publicly with a view of setting the record straight and preserving their reputation in the face of lawyer Lalonde's savagery.

I do wish however to address an issue near and dear to my heart: the role of question period during municipal council meetings.

In an article entitled "Response to The Mistaken Clarafications of J.M. Lalonde" by Georges Guibord (uncle to Mayor Guibord I believe), he writes about "those who since the elections were sabotaging the question period, and now that this problem is practically corrected, my article has achieved its purpose."

Georges Guibord's attitude about question period fails in my view to accept or understand that it is a marvelous tool in a healthy and vigourous democracy; it gives the opportunity to citizens, by their questions, to have the mayor and other council members publicly account for their decisions and policies. Denying, denigrating or critizing this activity as Georges Guibord does, flies in the face of the required standard of transparency which I expect from the municipal elected officials, and certainly far from the level of transparency which he claims is well practiced by Mayor Guibord; in my opinion, many times he (Guibord) has fallen quite short of exhibiting the required level of transparency and honesty in answering citizens' questions during council meetings.

Here is a true story, which occurred during a council meeting held last summer in Bourget, following the publication on Facebook of the Netaliano emails, projecting lawyer Lalonde and Mayor Guibord in a pretty poor light. During question period, I for one one asked the mayor to address the authenticity of those emails; he refused to do so, weakly claiming he could not because they were under police investigation.

During the break following question period a gentleman approached me; here is the dialogue:

He: Why don't you leave them (council members) alone to do their work.

Me: Sir, publicly accounting for their decisions and policies by answering the citizens' questions IS part to of their work.

At that, he simply turned around and left in silence.

Evidently Georges Guibord still does not get it. He, and like-thinking people obviously cannot or will not understand that public accountability by elected officials in a healthy democracy must be an every day issue, willingly accepted by them. Transparency and the avoidance of abuse demand it; history is full of examples testifying to that imperative.

Georges Guibord and those who are like-thinking, I say to you: question period during municipal council meetings is not a problem to be corrected by discouraging or denigrating those who through their perceptive questions publicly hold the mayor and other council members publicly accountable for their policies and decisions. It should be lauded as a tool which can play a very useful role in maintaining a sound and transparent administration of Clarence-Rockland municipal affairs, funded by the citizens with their taxes after all.
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Félio's misleading quote in the Vision's newspaper supplement

(This letter to the editor was posted on the Canaan Connexion Message Centre by André Branchaud on May 15, 2012. Anyone is free to add, reply or rebut:)

n article by Gregg Chamberland titled "Look for the opportunity in every challenge" in this week's Vision newspaper advertising supplement contains this quote attributed to councillor Félio which, in my view is quite inacurate and misleading: "Council has identified 2012 as the Year of Planning".

After closely checking with another councillor and as someone who regularly attends municipal council meetings, I beleive council has made no such decision. While the Chief Admistrative Officer, Pierre Tessier, has spoken during council meetings about the need to make long term plans encompassing the whole of Clarence-Rockland, his interventions in that regard have largely been met by silence from members of council, and certainly no formal decision has been taken by it declaring 2012 as the Year of Planning (with or without the capital Y and capital P, as writen in the Vision supplement article).

At no time has council even formally recognized the need to make 2012 a year of planning. Why should it? By gosh, planning, short and long term, is and has always been an ongoing activity at city hall. The issue therefore is to decide what the planinng priorities ought to be; council did not make a decision in that regard either.

Assuming he has been accurately quoted, and I have no reason to doubt Chamberlain in that regard, in my view it projects to my eyes Félio attempting to spin and mislead for his own selfish political purpose; that is intelectually dishonest in my view. He attempts to credit the municipal council with an important policy decision and priority, which in fact it did not make.

The credit for taking the initiative to emphasize this year's efforts by city hall staff towards long term planning for the whole of Clarence-Rockland (instead of piecemealing it in a rather confusing and incoherent manner between Rockland and the villages, as is the current pratice), goes entirely to the Chief Administrative Officer, Pierre Tessier.

So far, council's mostly silent response to Tessier's public declarations on this isssue can at best be viewed as going along with him; it did not identify or formally adopt 2012 as the Year of Planning. It did not even make any public pronouncement or decision conveying its support and encouragement for this entirely Tessier initiative towards coherent long term planning for Clarence-Rockland as a whole in 2012.

I say to Félio, give credit where credit is due: in the case of this years' Clarence-Rockland planning priority (which I strongly support) this credit belongs to Tessier in my opinion. At best council can be credited so far with appearing to me to sort of going along with him. A formal decision by council adopting that planning priority and directing Tessier to get on with it with its full support is in order I beleive; that's the leadership I expect from city council. Contrary to what Félio seems to project in his quote, that has simply not hapened.

André Branchaud

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Development of Rockland South
The good and the bad on councillor Félio's presentation

(This letter to the editor was posted on the Canaan Connexion Message Centre - Anyone is free to add, reply or rebut:)

uring the municipal council meeting of 12 march 2012, municipal councilor Félio made a presentation about the development of Rockland south. As an ordinary citizen and Clarence-Rockland taxpayer who still counts using his fingers, I offer here some of my comments about that presentation, under two headings: the good and the less good.

1. The staging was well done in my opinion:

a. Félio delivered his presentation using two projector screens, one showing slides written mostly in French, and the other showing them in English. Those shown written only in English came from a presentation delivered a few months ago by Watson Associates, a consulting firm, on Clarence-Rockland infrastructure investment needs.

b. Because he used a voice amplification system well-adjusted to the room in which he delivered his presentation and separate from the one normally used during council meetings, I clearly heard the presentation.

c. A copy of the presentation was delivered to spectators at the beginning. This allowed those who wished to follow the presentation using that copy instead of reading the slides on the screens. Of course this also allowed those with a copy to keep it for study or reading later on if desired.

2. Félio stated that all the work for this presentation was made by members of the municipal council Infrastructure and Buildings Committee, as well as the city's interim chief administrative officer and the municipal service directors. No outside consultants were used, thus saving money to taxpayers in the work associated with that presentation.

3. I feel that what seems to have been Félio's central message deserved to be made. That message, as I understand it, is as follows: a major residential and commercial development which could result from the reconstruction of Caron Street could possibly provoke significant impacts on municipal infrastructure and services needs, at very high costs, possibly unaffordable level to taxpayers, or financed by deficits which themselves could be unsustainable, or result in services and infrastructure needs not met because of lack of available funding.

4. Potential financial challenges that Clarence-Rockland may face in terms of answering to municipal infrastructure and services needs provoked by development stemming from the Caron Street project, need to be studied in light of the so-called infrastructure deficit estimated at close to 78 million dollars(for example needs for repair or maintenance of roads yet unmet forms part of that deficit). This amount is applicable to the city's profile as it exists today, and no plan has yet been adopted by the municipal council describing how those needs will be met, if ever. I feel Félio was right in underlining that situation.

5. Félio concluded his presentation by recommending, in part, that the council’s Infrastructure and Buildings Committee be mandated by council to propose options (schedule and costs) for the Caron Street reconstruction project. I feel that signals a will to proceed, in principle, with the Caron Street project, once an approach has been identified which appears, after careful consideration, the most responsible in terms of the interests of the Clarence-Rockland taxpayers.

6. Following the presentation, mayor Guibord allowed members of council and the public to asks question about it. This was unexpected by me. It gave me the opportunity to ask one question, the aim of which was to ascertain that I had understood the presentations core message and its rationale; I humbly admit that I had not clearly grasped all that was key to Félio's message.

7. The presentation is available on the city's Web site, making it accessible to anyone interested in it that may have been absent during its delivery. (SEE links below.)

8. In my opinion, generally a presentation should state its objectives close to its beginning, no later than after making a short introduction if desired. Félio's presentation omitted this important step in my view, proceeding directly to its main body, without first explaining why he was making it and even less what were its objectives. How can he and I evaluate if the presentation accomplished what he wanted without clearly describing what exactly he wanted to accomplish by delivering it? Omitting to describe clearly presentations objectives is a trap into which many people have fallen in the past and continue to do so often in delivering presentations to the municipal council in my view. Félio fell into that trap in my opinion.

9. Frankly, in listening to that presentation, I felt as if I was sitting in a college or university classroom listening to a lecture by Professor Guy Félio, PhD, titled: Municipal Infrastructure and Services Management 101 - A Case Study. I even wondered when the exam would be held! A symptom of professional deformation will some say?

10. The presentation was riddled with excessive minute details and graphics to a point that it was dizzying; it was all rather overwhelming to a point of being an obstacle to a clear understanding of the presentation. A summery or consolidation of that minutia could have and should have been presented instead; that would have been helpful in facilitating clarity and comprehension of the presentation, without compromising its integrity or persuasiveness. The excessive use of detailed minutia in my opinion simply exposed the presentation to the risk of been perceived as one designed to first impress rather than to express.

11. The excessive use of dizzying minutia and overly buzzy graphics resulted in a presentation which lasted too long in my view, a good half hour or longer as I recall. In my opinion, Félio's message could and should have been delivered in a 10 to 15 minutes presentation, at most. To have prolonged it as long as he did reflects a lack of discipline in is preparation I believe. Dare I say it may have possibly been a lack of respect towards its listeners?

12. Although I support the presentation's recommendation to examine options for the Caron Street project, it was not as clearly supported by the main body of the presentation as I would have liked. In fact, when I heard that recommendation at the end of the presentation, my reaction was: exactly how did he get to that again? I believe there is a close relationship between the Caron Street project, residential and commercial development and its impacts on Clarence-Rockland infrastructure and services which could have and should have been more clearly explained during the presentation.

13. A caution about all the assumptions on which the presentation is based would have been justified in my view. Although they are spelled out, the impacts which they may effect could significantly vary, depending on their choices; for example the interest rates for the next 20 to 30 years, or the inflation rate for the same period. The impacts described using the assumptions selected in this presentation are quite dramatic and even financially scary in my view. However who among us is capable of predicting the future with certainty as attempted in this presentation? All those nice numbers describing the financial impacts of development projects in the presentation are uncertain in my opinion, because they are highly susceptible to significantly change in response to on one more changes to the assumptions used in this presentation. It would have been necessary for Félio to signal this major limitation to his presentation’s reliability and utility in my view.

14. As I see it, the sensitivity of the presentation's results to probable changes in its underlying assumptions used over its 20 to 30 years vision, projects it to my eyes of a highly academic and hypothetical character. It casts serious doubts in my mind as to its practical value in the decision making process for the Caron Street project.

15. The presentation contains two recommendations to the municipal council. Although mayor Guibord congratulated Félio for all the work done with this presentation, no decision about it was made by the municipal council. In summary, Félio wanted council to make two decisions in response to his presentation; he got none at that time. Does a council member intend at some future meeting to table a resolution for approval by council aimed at following up on the presentations recommendations?

16. The following council members were absent during this presentation: Michel Thivierge, André Henrie, Raymond Serrurier and Bernard Payer. I see no particular urgency in the presentation. In order to assure the greatest possible number of council members at the presentation, did Félio consider contacting his colleagues to confirm their presence? This presentation was made during March break; therefore I'm not surprised that a number of councilors were away and I believe that Félio ought to have factored that in selecting the date for delivery of his presentation.


17. My comments above followed somewhat the format of a balance sheet, describing what to my eyes were the positive and the negative elements of this presentation. Placed on the balance of my subjective judgment, I feel overall they lean towards the negative side. The main reason in my opinion is that results described in the presentation are sensitive to variations to uncertain, unpredictable and probable changes to the assumptions upon which it is based over the 20 to 30 years period it examines. Consequently, I believe it is of doubtful reliability and quite limited utility as a reference for use by the municipal council in its decision making process applicable to the Rockland south development.

André Branchaud

The English version of this presentation is on the City's Web site here.
The French version of this presentation is on the City's Web site here.

Comment Posted by Jean-Guy Giroux on March 16, 2012:
André, n'ayant pas assisté `o la présentation, je ne puis faire de commentaires sur celle-ci,par contre, si je me fie a l'habituelle rectitude de ton jugement, je suis convaincu que les commentaires que tu as émis sont fondés sur une excellente compréhension de la présentation. Je suis peiné de voir que 4 membres du Conseil n'étaient pas présents à cette présentation, par contre je ne suis pas supris outre mesure puisque ce Conseil manque lamentablement de leadership et par le fait même beaucoup d'efforts sont totalement futiles.
André, not having attended the presentation, I cannot comment on it, however if I can rely on your usual good judgement, I am convinced that your comments are based on a thorough understanding of the presentation. It pains me to see that four council members were not present on the other hand I am not surprised because regrettably the council lacks leadership and because of this any effort (on their part) is completely futile.
(Jean-Guy Giroux is a former Clarence-Rockland City Councillor for Ward 7. He resigned in 2004.)
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The Ombudsman's core message to City Council and its response

(This letter to the editor was posted on the Canaan Connexion Message Centre - Anyone is free to add, reply or rebut:)

o you wish to cut to the chase and understand a core message the Ontario Ombudsman recently sent to Clarence-Rockland mayor Guibord in two letters which were written in my view in an accurate, brief, clear and simple manner?

Well, read this written in the Ombudsman Watchdog E-Newsletter, Volume 17, February 2012, at the paragraph titled Clarence-Rockland:

"The Ombudsman investigated several complaints about closed meetings stemming from a fractious dispute on council that involved the departure of a senior official and allegations of leaked emails. The Ombudsman’s findings, outlined in two letters to the municipality, note that while that the various meetings did not strictly violate the Municipal Act, they violated the principles of openness and transparency it is intended to uphold."

No language here caracterized by legalese mumbo-jumbo inaccessible to the average taxe-payer, of the style used by lawyer Labrosse in his letter of 16 February to Guibord advising him to reject key recommendations contained in the Ombudsman's letters, specially the one quoted above.

By a vote of 5-3, the municipal council accepted Labrosse's advice, thus defying the Ombudsman who, as an independant investigator of exemplary reputation and integrity, has as a paramount and overriding objective the protection of the citizens' interests against wrondoing at the provincial and municipal levels of government. Guibord and a few other members of the Clarence-Rockland council have decided to defy and challenge the citizens watchdog's advice. That looks like quite a politically risky move on their part, if only because in my opinion the public highly respects and trusts the Ombudsman, in contrast with Guibord's dismal performance and poor credibility of some of his closest allies on council in my view over the past year.

The Clarence-Rockland municipal council must now inform the Ombudsman of its views on the advice it has received from him, including that it rejects some of its key portions. I doubt very much the Ombudsman will take that without a murmour; he is simply not the type to keel and roll over at the push of a few municipal council members at the expense of protecting the citizens interests.

More to come, I'm sure.

André Branchaud

Here repeated from above is the excerpt from The Watchdog, the Ontario Ombudsman website, under the heading of
"Recent municipal cases":
Clarence-Rockland: The Ombudsman investigated several complaints about closed meetings stemming from a fractious dispute on council that involved the departure of a senior official and allegations of leaked emails. The Ombudsman’s findings, outlined in two letters to the municipality, note that while that the various meetings did not strictly violate the Municipal Act, they violated the principles of openness and transparency it is intended to uphold.
[Read the letters]
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Councillor Félio puts Mayor Guibord in a bad light says reader

(This letter to the editor was posted on the Canaan Connexion Message Centre - Anyone is free to add, reply or rebut:)

uring the municipal council meeting held in Bourget on Monday, Febuary 6, councillor Félio explained that last year the Clarence-Rockland municipal council decided that a monthly report must be provided to council on access to information requests made to the City. He explained that up to now, no report has been provided to council and he asked the mayor to explain that issue's status.

Guibord responded non-verbally indicating that he had no idea and asked the interim chief administrative officer Pierre Tessier to address Félio's question. Tessier replied that he knew nothing about it and indicated he would folllow up.

What Félio seemed to have ignored in asking his question about the access to information monthly report is this: last year, at the same time that council cancelled the power and responsability of then chief administrative officer Daniel Gatien to act as the responsible official for matters dealing with access to information requests, council conferred that power (personnally) to mayor Guibord. It is at that time that council requested it be provided monthly reports of access to information requests.

In my view, Félio's comment and question about the monthly report on access to information requests created two embarassing results:

  • 1. Félio publicly exposed the mayor for not having executed an element of his role as the City official responsible for access to information requests.
  • 2. The mayor was placed in the position of having to publicly admit he had no idea what is the status of the monthly access to information reports. Consequently that seemed to imply that as the City official responsible for access to information requests, he seemed to have done nothing to follow up on the council's directive about those monthly reports.

I have a hunch that Félio perhaps simply may not have realized that his comment and question risked publicly showing mayor Guibord in a unflattering light, having forgotten or ignored the mayor's role applicable to access to information requests. In my opinion Félio seemed to have once more publicly put his mouth in motion before putting his brains in gear; this time it was in his approach to his comment and question dealing with the monthly report on access to information requests. He could have and should have dealt with this isssue privately in my view.

André Branchaud

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Félio's political doctrine clearly revealed during the debate on the price of bus passes
In January (2012) the Clarence-Rockland municipal council debated the cost-sharing formula applicable to the operation of the Clarence-Rockland bus service. The debate centered on the portion of that service financed by the city (therefore paid by all Clarence-Rockland taxepayers) and the one financed by users of that service through purchase of a bus pass. During that debate, in expressing his views on that matter councillor Félio clearly revealed what in my opinion is a core feature of his political doctrine: the notion that users of non-essential municipal services ought to pay entirely for those services.

He explained in French his logic as follows (my translation): "For water and sewage, when a new pipe is provided in an area, users are forced to connect to it at their own expense. If we do that for a service as essential as water, I would have difficulty in not adopting the same vision for public transportation".

Therefore, if I properly understand Félio, the city should not subdize in any way the cost of the public bus service operating out of Clarence-Rockland. He favoured going from subsidizing 22 per cent of those costs as adopted last year, to 0 per cent this year, leaving users to pay the total cost of that service. There is no need to do PhD level mathematics to conclude that such a formula would render the price of the bus pass unaffordable for many users and more expensive than simply taking one's car. I bet that would expose the bus service to the risk of coming to a grinding halt, due to lack of users. Already users who must finance some 78 per cent of the bus service cost will see an increase this year of 13 per cent to the price of the bus pass, going from $216 to $245 a month. Félio's doctrine favored eliminating the 22 per cent subsidy by the city, therefore transferring that amount as an additional increase to the price of the bus pass in order to completely fund the operation of the bus service.

Félio's concept claiming that users should pay the complete costs of non-essential services provided by the city logically implies in my view that the city should, for example, in no way finance the operation of its public libraries, and that those costs should be entirely and uniquely funded by users of that service. Based on Félio's political doctrine, all other non-essential services would need to be funded the same way.

By way of information, I'm told that the city of Ottawa subsidizes 40 per cent of the costs of its bus service. I can hear users of its bus service say: "Thank goodness Félio is not a municipal councillor over there!".

Frankly, in my opinion occasionally Félio has a tendency to publicly showcase a political judgment which seems to me indirectly proportinal to his PhD IQ. I beleive his doctrine requiring users should pay all costs of non-essential municipal services would simply be a retrograde step in the development of a fair and just community committed to enhancing the quality of life and standard of living for one and all; it would simply codemn many of those services to be eliminated in my view. Is that what the Clarence-Rockland taxepayers want? I really do not think so.

André Branchaud

NOTE: In a related item, Le Droit's Eastern Ontario reporter Samuel Blais-Gauthier wrote a story which appeared on Tuesday, January 24, 2012: CR Transpo passes will cost $29 more per month. you will find it here.
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Reader applauds new Chamber of Commerce, expresses concerns of possible City intervention

(Thursday, January 19, 2012) An interesing report by Denis Babin on the Radio-Canada Ottawa radio station this morning profiled the official opening of the Clarence-Rockland Chamber of Commerce.

He revealed that it now has 75 members and is aiming to:

  1. Have 150 members.
  2. Model its operations on the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, which apparently is financially on a solid footing, with $100,000 in financial assets.
  3. To be financially self-sufficient.

I applaud the creation of the Clarence-rockland Chamber of Commerce. Although it has asked for financial support to the municipal council, request agreed to in principle by mayor Guibord, its objective to eventually be financially self-sufficient is in my view crucial.

In my opinion, the saga of the savage treatment meated out to Jacques Tauillefer and Tucker House last spring by Mayor Guibord and Councillor Choinière clearly shows that it is highly desirable, if not essential, that the Chamber of Commerce not be in any way financially indebted to the partisan political whims of the municipal council members as soon as possible. In my view its credibility depends on that.

I beleive that it needs to operate, and be perceived to operate, in a manner which in no way projects it as a puppet of the municipal council through the Clarence-Rockland taxe-payer funded financial strings manipulated by the mayor and municipal councillors.
André Branchaud
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C-R Mayor questioned on his objections surrounding the Question Period
During the council meeting of Monday, January 16, 2012, the mayor asked that subjects of questionsAndré Branchaudduring question period be limited to those which are part of this municipal council's meeting agenda, without explaining why it ought to be so. To the best of my recollection, this is the third or fourth time he has made that request over the past year. I was releived to hear councillor Bernard Payer object to that demand, and I would have appreciated hearing other councillors express the same attitude. Should their silence be interpreted as support for the mayor's demand?

Be as it may, my question requested Mayor Guibord account for the progress made during the past year following a decision last winter by council to update the applicable rules governing question period. I explained to Guibord that so far as I knew, nothing had been presented to council since then. I added that since that time however, in my eyes he seemed to have attempted to unilaterally apply new arbitrary rules, such as the need to limit questions to those items which are included in a meeting's agenda.

In answering my question, the mayor seemed to have deftly skated around the issue, primarily explaining that over the past year council had been quite busy and worked very hard at other issues, adding that the subject of updated rules for question period would eventually be dealt with. Never one to miss an opportunity to add his two cents worth (useful or not) in defence of Guibord, councillor Guy Félio added that one factor explaining the delay in progressing this initiative was the abscence on sick leave of the City Clerk.

Having followed quite closely last year's debates on city council about question period , I estimate that development of an update to the rules governing question period for consideration by the council represents about two hours of staff work, at most. The changes to those rules currently in place identified during council debates last year during their public meetings are relatively few, simple and pretty uncrontroversial, such as limiting the time accorded to each questionner to five minutes. Also, to the best of my memory, the main councillor responsible to coordinate this question period rules update is André Henrie. I noted that when I raised this subject during Monday's council meeting, he seemed ill at ease and remained very silent.

However I am grateful to Mayor Guibord for having allowed me to express my views on the subject of question period, despite the fact my intervention was a short speech. I did stress that in my view, the municipal council, and he in particiular as mayor, had a moral responsability to publicly account for his and the city's policies and decisions. I feel this obligation is partly exercised by honestly and openly answering questions by the citizens of Clarence-Rockland about municipal affairs during the council meeting question period, without imposing any arbitrary constraint limiting questions to only those included in a council meeting's agenda. In my opinion, to do otherwise is undemocratic, lacks transparency and is an affront to public accountability.
André Branchaud

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Fernand Dumaine - Let's not dilute our (Christmas) traditions lest we offend immigrants

(Saturday, December 17, 2011 - as it appeared in the Ottawa Citizen)

Some people claim that we must no longer reserve a space for our Christmas tree in our public places, lest we offend immigrants.

Some claim that to be "inclusive" we must include all sorts of other customs from other countries when celebrating one of our major festivities, Christmas, lest immigrants feel left out.

Make no mistake, it's not by diluting our own traditions that we will gain an iota of respect from newcomers. When a person is accepted in our country, he should know that as a new Canadian he must liken to - meaning accept - our customs, traditions, rules, laws and regulations. Likewise, if I immigrate to a foreign country, I expect the same requirement from my new homeland; that's fair. Also, newcomers are free to celebrate their own traditions.

Is it possible that some Canadians, for various reasons, don't like some of our traditions, so they hide behind immigrants, with their "inclusiveness," to dilute our traditions... Just Asking?

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Fernand Dumaine, Rockland

See related story in Ottawa Sun... Here...

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Clarence-Rockland City Council’s Report Card - June 2011
(Jean Yves Pigeon)
After six months at the helm of our City, town council must undergo its first rating. As the saying goes, “The runner must be given a fair chance”. I am quite willing to do so, except that our runner (town council) is now way back of the pack.

To be fair, let’s exclude the electoral campaign, although several inaccuracies, half truths, outlandish promises and extended curriculums were made. Even on election day some quirks were observed. However the new council was not yet operational and these facts cannot be included in this evaluation. Let’s agree that that the highest rating will be A+ and the lowest D-.

Swearing in of the elected members:
All governing bodies, that have a profound respect for their beliefs, perform their highest ceremonies at their venues. Christians at their church, Jews at their synagogue, Muslims at their mosque, Members of Parliament on Parliament Hill or Rideau Hall, and the municipal council at City Hall. Mayor Guibord decided to hold that formal ceremony at the Clarence Creek Arena Hall with paying bar, ignoring completely the director general’s recommendations. Tradition, protocol and decorum appears to be missing from the mayor’s handbook. Rating C-.

Communications with City Hall employees:
It's an open secret that for several years now, the cloth burns between Marcel Guibord and the Director General Daniel Gatien. Mayor Guibord’s main electoral promise was to repeal By-law 2010-74, concerning the law suit against the Musketeer Journal and Stephan J. Lalonde, his ex(?) Business partner. That was the first sign that he preferred his friends to the municipal employees.

The way he treated Daniel Gatien at televised public meetings was simply despicable and unworthy of a man of his importance in our community. Another proof of his total lack of respect towards employees. On other occasions some newly elected officials have unequivocally refused to consider recommendations of the Director General and department heads. One counselor has even accused a department manager of lying during a televised town hall meeting. Rating D-.

Not accepting any help or advice from the director general and departmental heads, the task of preparing and submitting a budget (especially their first one ever) was a colossal exercise to achieve. It would appear that the newly elected expected a larger revenue base to enable them to fulfill their electoral promises. The famous revenue base that was so often wrongly criticized and very frequently labelled as being mismanaged. Left to themselves, the new administration could do no better than impose a historical budget increase of close to 10 per cent, plus the property assessment of approximately 4.5 per cent. Not too promising for what mayor Guibord once boasted as the best council of all time, that this community had ever elected, Rating D-.

Since taking office, during the question period, when asked what their position is respecting the situation with Daniel Gatien, the answer is always the same, “We are negotiating with Mr. Gatien.” Yet during the last week we learn that a separation package was offered to get rid of him. Enquiring on their perception of their community for the future, the answer is always the same, “The budget is not yet approved, so we can’t answer to that.” Yet with the budget approved recently, and although mayor Guibord did mention that his vision is plentiful, no word yet what it entails, except for the separation package for Mr. Gatien. Threats of abolishing question period, dictates which questions can be asked and when certain topics are too embarrassing, in camera meetings are called. Rating D-.

You will have to agree with me that this report card is far from acceptable from a council, that the mayor once qualified as the best elected council of all times. Woman and gentlemen you will have to increase your brain activity to correct this state of affairs. To come down to the level of normal citizens and forget close friends and self interest, would be a good start. At the next evaluation, you had better correct your decision making and administration to the highest possible level, or else, you will loose whatever credibility you have left.

Jean Yves Pigeon
A concerned citizen.
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Dr.Félio: "He and his wife are famous check this out"
(April 13, 2011) Jim has been doing a little Internet surfing. He came up with this reference which includes our Ward 5 Councillor and spouse: "The National Press Club of Canada Foundation announces its new Board of Directors".

Jim said: Dr. Felio: He and his wife are famous check this out:

OTTAWA, April 5 /CNW Telbec/ - At its Annual General Meeting held at the Sheraton Hotel in Ottawa on April 4th, the National Press Club of Canada Foundation (NPCCF) members were introduced to the new Board.

Under Executive: Dr. Guy Félio - President
Under Directors: Roxanne Brousseau-Félio - Chair, Diplomatic and Multicultural Committee

Biographical details of the Executive and Directors are attached. Read more...

(Comment: Actually, this is old news (2009). The National Press Club folded for a lack of funds. The National Press Club of Canada Foundation was an attempt to keep the spirit of the old organization going. As I understand, Guy was the last official president. -Ed.)
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Patrick Meikle's views on Question Period during the 11 April Council Meeting
Posted by André Branchaud on April 12, 2011, 3:56 pm

I take significant exception to Patrick Meikle's description of question period during the municipal council meeting of 11 April 2011. His words are, as written elsewhere on the Canaan Connexion site: "However there were still a couple of individuals who used the Question Period to bring up old saws about the link between the Mayor and certain council members, with Stéphane Lalonde. From the reaction of the audience, there is still a split within the citizenry with many on the left feeling the mayor is not answering the questions."

Patrtick further links his article to the followintg definition of "old saws": "Banality, bromide, chestnut, cliche, commonplace, commonplace expression, corn, familiar tune, hackneyed saying, lieu commun, locus communis, old joke, old song, old story, platitude, prosaicism, prosaism, prose, reiteration, retold story, stereotyped saying, trite saying, triticism, twice-told tale."

The issue adressed by the two individuals fails to meet in my eyes the definition of "old saws" used Patrick. It may be an old issue, in the sense that it has been of concern to a number of Clarence-Rockland citizens since the formation of the current council members. However it is far from being a banal issue; it is far from being a platitude to those who raise it, no matter how many times. And I reckon it will remain of significant concern until it is perceived by those who care a great deal about it as been satisfactorily adressed by Guibord. So far he has dismally failed to do so.

The issue adressed at question period by the two individuals referred to by Patrick goes right to the heart of Guibord's continued unwillingness or incapability to honor his often repeated commitments during the election campaing last fall to improve transparency of municipal council affairs.

Specifically it has to do with his unwillingness or incapacity to publicly address in a fortright manner the suspected influence that lawer Stéphane Lalonde has directly exerted and continues to directly exert on the mayor and his principal acolytes Choinière and Félio with respect to important municipal council issues; examples include Stéphane Lalonde's highly suspected direct involvement in the writing of the By-Law aimed at abolishing the indemnisation agreement between the city and Daniel Gatien (for which Lalonde has an indirect financial interest), or the writing of a proposal presented by Choinière aimed at recuperating from Richard Lalonde the costs of three wrings donated to former councillors.

This issue which Patrick disparagingly qualifies as old saw has to do with exposing Guibord and his acolytes Chpoinière and Félio as instruments of vengeance by Stéphane Lalonde. The evidence that this is going on, although circumstancial, is nevertheless plentiful in my view.
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A flagrant lack of transparency
Posted by André Branchaud on April 5, 2011, 3:24 pm

During the question period at last night's (Monday, 4 April 2011) municipal council meeting the following question was asked to the following council members: Campeau, Choinière, Guibord and Félio:

"Either as part of a group, or individually, since your swearing-in as a member of the municipal council have you received any help from lawyer Stéphane J. Lalonde in writing any document concerning the municipal affairs of Clarence-Rockland?"

In my view, that brief question was quite clear and precise. A brief answer equally clear and equally precise would have been expressed as a simple "yes" or "no"; nothing more and nothing less was requested. However no member of council to whom the question was adressed chose to answer that way. Except for Campeau which to me seemed to more or less deny receiving such help, all others simply provided a reply that completely avoided stating yes or a no to receiving any help from lawer Stéphane Lalonde in writing documents concerning Clarence-Rockland municipal affairs.

Those members of council, specially Guibord and Félio, committted themselves during last autumn's election campaign to improving transparency in the conduct of municipal affairs. It was a cornerstone commitment.

What then has motivated the mayor and the other councillors to refuse to clearly answer the question? Why have they answered by employing a technique which simply avoided to admit whether or not they had received help from Stéphane Lalonde in the writing of documents? Why keep this information in hiding? Why is it a secret? Why this flagrant lack of transparency contrary to their election commitments?

By grouping together the answers provided with an analysis of certain documents adopted by this municipal council, I have concluded that Stéphane Lalonde has probably played a role in writing a number of documents concerning municipal affairs under this council. For example, by its content and tone (as illustrated in his many writings in the former rag called The Musqueters' Journal) I see the pen of Stéphane Lalonde in the document adopted last December by council aimed at abolishing the indemnisation agreement between the city and Daniel Gatien. That document indirectly serves the financial interest of Stéphane Lalonde.
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Diane Choinière wants to hire Stéphane Lalonde
Posted by André Branchaud on February 20, 2011

In a rather stunning article in Le Droit on 18 Febuary, journalist Jean-François Dugas writes that councillor Dianne Choinière is recommnending that Stéphane Lalonde be appointed as a legal advisor to the city of Clarence-Rockland.

The article notes that a company called Chamberland Crossing, for which Lalonde is a director and president, is currently under legal proceedings brought by the city of Clarence-Rockland. Moreover, I've been told by a reliable source that he turn has counter-sued the city on the same matter.

In my opinion, any reasonable person aware of the rules of the Canadian Bar Association's Code of Conduct, and The Law Society of Upper Canada Rules of Professional Conduct would conclude that such an appontment exposes Lalonde to a real or apparent conflict of interest.

More than that, simple common sense dictates that current city legal actions actions against him and in turn any of his against the city, obviously render him unsuitable to act as the city's legal advisor. There's really no need to have a debate here around the relevance of the applicable formal rules. The optics of such an appointment are patently unaccepatable in my view.

Quite aside from the issue of conflict of interest, in my opinion other factors render Lalonde unsuitable for that appointment. My description in previous comments in this site, about Lalonde's dishonorable performance as the editor of the (now defunct) paper called The Musqueteers, render him totally unsuitable from a personal qualities perspective in my opinion.

By recommending such an appointment, if only in full knowledge of current legal proceedings associated with Lalonde, Choinière would demonstate a profound lack of judgment, one which in my view brings into question her suitability as a councillor.

Posted by Carmelle Gareau on February 21, 2011

J'ai confiance que Madame Diane Choinière, conseillère du quartier 8, a vérifié toutes les lois et que sa proposition d'embaucher Maître Stéphane Lalonde à titre d'aviseur légal pour notre Corporation de la Cité de Clarence-Rockland, Ontario est sérieuse, vérifiée et approfondie et qu'aucune obstacle perturbera le respect entre tous et chacun.
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Radio Canada seems to allege Mayor Guiboard has lied
Posted by André Branchaud on February 18, 2011

Wow, now even Radio Canada TV is getting interested in mayor Guibord!

Click on the picture to go to the linkLook at this link covering its TV newscast on 16 Febuary which, in my opinion, clearly implies the mayor has lied at Monday's, 14 Febuary, municipal council meeting when he denied receiving legal advice prior to securing the municipal council vote abolishing its indemnification agreement with Daniel Gatien. Click here to view.
(Note: when you visit the CBC RadioCanada site, you will have to "play" the video which is in the French language, and wait for the Clarence-Rockland item, which comes after a couple of other news stories. When you see the picture at right, you will know that you are on the right story.)

To support its allegation in this broadcast, Radio Canada contrasts a quote from Guibord denying he received legal advice with the content of a confidential email shown and reported as originating from a lawer named Marc Labrosse; Radio Canada claims that email shows the opposite of what Guibord says. Clearly Guibord is portayed by Radio Canada as lying in my view.

I have obtained a copy of that email from a municipal councillor which assures me it is now in the public domain. After carefully reviewing it, I'm of the view that Radio Canada's story seems bang on.

As Yogi Berra is quoted as saying: "It ain't over till its over", and this is not over I reckon.

Watch and shoot!
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Municipal Council meeting of January 10, 2011
Posted by André Branchaud on January 14, 2011, on the CCMC:

I looked at Monday's (10 January) municipal council meeting broadcast on Channel 22. Here are a few comments related to this three hours long talking marathon.

Overall, that meeting, again, clearly portrayed to me a council composed of two distinct ideological camps.

The first camp is a close triumvirate comprising its leader mayor Guibord and councillors Choinière and Félio. Not only do they project ideoligical closeness and a shared agenda (some of which is open and some of which, I suspect, is still hidden), they even sit beside each other! That group can be viewed as the council's close knit inner circle.

The other councillors comprise the other camp, with no obvious leader at the moment. These councillors are caracterized by their ability to independantly voice their views. At various times during the meeting each clearly intervened in their own way projecting their intent to voice their personnal views and their refusal to be pushed around by the mayor's triumvirate, specially by Choinière and Félio. That group contains a sub-group: these are councillors strongly defending the previous council's positive record of accomplishments and openly resenting what they, rightly in my view, percieve is the inner circle's constantly petty, malicious and vengeful interventions aimed at denigrating or attacking the previous council's record and reputation. That sub-group consits of councillors Thivierge, Desjardins and Serrurier. The other members of that second camp, Campeau, Henrie and Payer made it clear by their occasionnally useful and constructive comments, and questions that they are quite willing and able to keep the inner circle honest, supporting it or opposing it when, in their judgment, they feel justified to do so. This camp was totally responsible to shoot down Félio's resolution aimed at appointing himself deputy mayor for the next year. It was in my view an obvious and ill-presented attempt by Félio at a power grab which, if successful, would have implicitely annnointed him the official primus inter-pares(first among equals) councellor. The majority of his peers would have nothing to do with that. That camp was also responsible, with advice from city administrator Daniel Gatien, for putting away Chénier's proposal to recover from former mayor Richard Lalonde roughly $1,400 for innapropriately, she claimed, authorizing the purchase of two (or was it three) rings for former councillors.

Two interventions by mayor Guibord made during e that meeting deserve to be singled out in my view.

The first deals with Guibord's response to Payer's request that he clarify his claim that at a prior meeting he(Guibord) seeked legal advice prior to the council vote to abolish the agreement with the city administrator Gatien. To be sure, Guibord's performance on that one was another blow to his credibility in my eyes. At first he outright denied having seeked advice from a lawer, and he denied it more than once. But at Payer's repeated insistance that he had said he seeked legal advice, Guibord finally agreed that he sought and received a lawer's suggestions, claiming that it did not constitute legal advice because the city did not have to pay for it! Playing with words as Guibord did made a circus out of his performance on that issue. Also he did not reveal who that lawer was, until pressed to name him later during the open question period by the Cannaan Connexion journalist Pat Meikle. All that scenario allowed Guibord to make a mockery of his publicly declared commitment to provide more transparency to the city's business.

The second item worthy of note in Guibord's interventions during that council meeting was his declaration that during the election campaign last October, a common issue people often raised with him at that time was the need to improve transparency of city business. I attended the all-candidates meeting held at Bourget during the election campaign. I listened carefully to all the candidates speeches and their answers to questions. Frankly, to the best of my memory, I simply do not recall any candidate, other than Guibord, insisting that there was an urgent and compelling need to improve the transparency of city business. To this day, I still ask myself who exactly were all those people who at that time were apparently concerned about that issue, except Guibord and his business partner at the time lawer Stéphane Lalonde and his crew at the "gutter" paper The Musqueteers Journal.

To be sure, supporting government transparency is like motherhood and sliced bread; everybody is for that! However I feel that Guibord simply made that (non) issue up during the election campaign and is still attempting to gain political milage out of it. I see nothing in Clarence-Rockland's business conduct clearly showing a significantly faulty transparency policy that is in urgent need for major improvement, repair or overhaul. Yet, to be sure, like anything else, I suppose it perhaps can and should be improved; therefore I expect Guibord will continue to publicly raise that issue to sustain his political capital. But he's really playing games with that one as far as I'm concerned.

This meeting shows signs that the inner circle club is continuing to take steps to marginalize city administrator Daniel Gatien in the day to day operations of the city. At a recent meeting, the council decided to completely abolish Gatien's authority to sign procurement cheques. At this meeting, council agreed to create three or four (I've lost count) committtees dealing with various aspects of city operations. These committees comprise a number of councillors with Gatien as a non-voting member in all of them. As I understand it, these committees will be dealing directly with their respective responsible city manager(all subordinates to Gatien), providing policy direction and management oversight. This means that those managers will now become directly responsible and accountable to their respective committees, and no longer responsible to the city administrator for their areas of responsability. City council may not have fired Gatien yet, but its new committee structure seems to largely make him irrelevant in practice where it really matters.

So, the two camps created at the last municipal election is very much a reality, more and more firmly entrenched as time goes on. Where will they lead Clarence-Rockland? I really do not know right now, but I'm keeping a close eye on them.

Posted by Sylvie Riopel on January 17, 2011,

Sorry, Mr. Branchaud but I also was a proponent of transparency. Are you sure you were at the all-candidates meeting in Bourget? Many running for council were also proponents of transparency.

Why? In my case, it was because I felt that the old council had created a major hole in our municipal bank account with the 'blank check' resolution and that they had done so as quietly as possible. I believe that they (the old council) would have preferred this 'blank check' not become an election issue but I'm glad it did. It allowed the residents of Clarence-Rockland to support a majority of candidates that openly stood against that agreement and that have now revoked it. Congrats to them!

Posted by Guy Felio on January 17, 2011,

Tansparency and accountability: see Councillor Felio's electoral platform at
http://www.rocklandinfrastructure.ca/Platrform_E.html , Item 2.

Committees: see example of City of Ottawa Committees at Committees: see example of City of Ottawa Committees at http://www.ottawa.ca/city_hall/mayor_council/standing_committees/transportation/index_en.html.html

Posted by André Branchaud on January 17, 2011

The municipal council of the city of Ottawa comprises 24 members (the mayor and 23 councillors), serving a population of 870,250. Intuitively, it therefore seems to me to make sense for that city council to operate its six Standing Committees (made up solely of councillors and the mayor as ex-officio in all but one of them). To do otherwise in my view Ottawa's council operations would likely become unwieldy and bogged down, unable to effectively reach sound, well developped and thought out decisions in an efficient and timely manner.

The city of Clarence-Rockland has nine members (the mayor and eight councillors) serving a population of roughly 23,000. The business case for creating at the last council meeting the three or four committees is unclear at best in my view. However, to be sure, it certainly seems to satisfy some councillors' apparent objective to render the city administrator irrelevant.

OK, so Félio says he was another voice who claimed during the election campaign there is a need to improve transparency in the city's business. Had he not appeared to have bought without question all of editor Stéphane Lalonde's self-serving and vindictive diatribes in the "gutter press" Three Musqueteer's, lock, stock and barrel served relentlessly for the two years preceeding the municipal election last fall, Félio's position on that issue might be more credible in my eyes.

Improve transparency he says? Well, had Félio given a clear, comprehensive and compelling case supporting the need for the council committees and the need to have himself appointed deputy mayor, perhaps I would have more confidence in his intentions and motives about this issue. He failed to do so in my view.
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The agreement is dead - for now
Posted by André Branchaud on December 21, 2010, on the CCMC:

Below is an article from Vision hot of the press on its Web site concerning the abolishment of the so-called blank cheque agreement last evening. Sounds like its a done deal, for now.

This whole scenario leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Why was Serrurier absent for this vote? Known to oppose abolishment of the agreement(at last week's council meeting), his abscence this time assured adoption of the resolution to abolish the agreement; this is because, as previously reported, of those present it was well known that at least two thirds of them would vote in favour, representing the perceived minimum legally required to carry.

This issue is far from over in my view. For every action there is a reaction; this famous Newtonian fundamental law of physics is also applicable in human interactions.

Daniel Gatien is now on public record of saying he has been publicly humiliated by that vote. He's on public record of saying he is far from been satisfied that the proper procedure has been followed by council and that he will seek legal advice. He's on public record of saying he will persue his legal action against Stéphane Lalonde and others associated with the Les Mousquetaires paper.

I expect this decision has irrevocally poisoned the professional relationship between the City council, particularly mayor Guibord, and the city administrator Daniel Gatien. The resulting adverse effects likely puts at risk the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the City's administration, business and services. It may even put Daniel Gatien in an untenable position, one where he or City council will eventually conclude he is no longer able to fully and enthusiastically discharge his responsibilities with unquestioned dedication and loyalty to City council. And that ill-serves the citizens of Clarence-Rockland. By this vote, this Council withdrew its support for Daniel Gatien on an issue where he felt personnally wronged by a citizen about the conduct of City affairs. How can Council now realistically expect to receive from him heartfelt full support?

Was there an alternative to abolishing the agreement, other than keeping it as is? I beleive Council could have and should have looked hard for that, arbritration been possibly one example of potential alternatives.

Attempting to find an alternative would have had the benifit of appearing to address and balance Council concerns about the current agreement with its moral obligation to support one of its employees who feels seriously harmed in the conduct of City affairs. The Council appears to have made no attempt to do so.

In my view, by avoiding to consider alternatives, Council has shown a lack of judgment and deserves severe criticism. This council includes a MBA and a PhD. The brains are there, but on this issue, as I see it the mature wisdom councillors are paid by city taxepayers to apply was absent.

It's unclear to me at this time where or how all of this is going to end. I'm pretty sure though that it's not over yet.

The vote to abolish the agreement in my view has not taken that issue off Guibord's table once and for all. I expect more to come, some of it unexpected, some of it unanticipated and some of it undesired by Council. Has Council presumebly solved one issue by unwittingly creating a more difficult and unpleasant one detrimental to the interests of taxepayers it is paid to serve?
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The so called "blank" cheque agreement is not dead yet
This item was posted by André Branchaud on December 20, 2010, on the CCMC:

Marcel Guibord clearly, firmly and categorically committed during the municipal election candidates' meeting at Bourget last October to abolish the so-called blank cheque agreement between the City of Clarence-Rockland and the city administrator Daniel Gatien. He pledged at that time to make this his first priority as mayor. An attempt to abolish that agreement was still-born during last week's municipal council meeting.

During last Monday's council meeting, by a vote of 5 for and 4 against, Council voted to abolish the agreement. In an article titled "L'entente d'indemnisation du dg divise le Conseil", the Vision newspaper of 16 December writes that, following their vote, a City official advised council members that "pour modifier une résolution adoptée par un précédent Conseil, une majorité des deux tiers des voix étaient nécessaires" (that a two third majority was required to abolish a resolution adopted by a previous council). Therefore one vote was missing to abolish the agreement. The Vision further reports that "Les membres, dans la confusion, ont convenu de revenir avec le dossier ultérieurement". (Members in their confusion decided to revisit that issue in the future.)

Obviously, it would appear that the councillor who presented that motion and those who supported it were blindsided by the revelation of the legal requirement to have at least two thirds members support it. That, in my view, should have and could have been known to them before tabling that motion at the council meeting. Moreover an informal check of the extent of support among councillors by proposal's sponsor done before that meeting would have likely revealed it had virtually no chance of been adopted, thus saving him and those who supported it the public embarrassement of looking ill-prepared and ill-informed.

Curiously the agreement at issue is no longer on Les Mousquetaires Web site. That paper(or Gutter press as the Cannan Connection colourfully calls it), its editor Stéphane Lalonde and others associated with that paper are at issue in that agreement. It was there a few weeks ago and I took time to carefully read and study it. Why has it been removed? In my view Stéphane Lalonde in some editions of Les Mousquetaires negatively misinformed and disinformed regarding the meaning and application of that agreement. Obviously as a principal target of the legal proceedings covered by that agreement, it was in his self-interest to do so. Sounds to me there are some municipal councillors, including mayor Guibord who is a friend of Stéphane Lalonde, who is a relatively recent former business partner of his, and who has admitted using his legal services from time to time, have bought Stéphane's Lalonde's version of the meaning of what some call the blank cheque agreement, lock stock and barrel.

Guibord and the councillor who presented the motion to abolish the agreement last Monday at a public Council meeting clearly have not properly done their homework before it was tabled. I therefore have no reason to beleive that they and those who supported its abolishment have done the homework needed to gain a credible and thorough knowledge of its content and background, with advice from a credible, fair, independant, and unbiased advisor in the matter. They wasted precious time in ineffectively dealing with that issue at Council and that translates in wasting Clarence-Rockland taxepayer funded resources. That ill-serves its citizens. To Guibord and those councillors supporting abolishment of the agreement I say: get a grip folks, and do your homework! You are paid big bucks from the city taxepayers to do so.

This item was posted by Guy Félio on December 29, 2010

Correction: City staff made an error (not corrected by the City’s Director General at the time it was made but acknowledged later by the Clerk) during the December 13 Council Meeting’s vote on the resolution to revoke Bylaw 2010-74 – the indemnity agreement.

The resolution should have passed by majority vote and did not require two-thirds in favour. This, I submit to you, was not a lack of preparation or knowledge by the “proponent of the motion” (I proposed the resolution), the Mayor or other Councillors, but erroneous guidance to Council by staff.

Bylaw 2010-74 was revoked by a majority vote of Council (5 in favour, 3 against) at the December 20, 2010 Special Meeting of Council.

I invite you to visit my website http://rocklandinfrastructure.ca/Feedback.html to learn the facts about this and other votes, which unfortunately are not reported in detail by journalists, opinion letters, or blogs.
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Response to Patrick's Blog on "Gutter Press
This item was posted by André Branchaud on November 16, 2010, on the CCMC:

I was delighted by and completely agree with the article titled
Clarence-Rockland deserves better than gutter press.

The "rag" at issue in that article, The Musqueteers' Journal, projects in my view an intellectually dishonest editorial policy, one in effect since its founding more than two years ago.

As I see it, its core editorial policy includes publishing half-truths, distortions, misinformations, disinformations and negative allegations, all for the clear and sole purpose of relentlessly attacking, discrediting, humiliating and embarrassing the Clarence-Rockland mayor, the municipal council and city administration. It refuses to publish opinions from readers contrary to its own views.

Unfortunately silence in response to accusations all too often is taken as an admission to those accusations. The results of the municipal elections last month suggests to me this may have been at play in response to those levied by The Musqueteers's Journal; its attacks had gone publicly unanswered by city council far, far too long.

Also, I deplore the local print and electronic media for publicly ignoring too long the Musqueteers' malevolence. This is in my view a major failure in its public duty to provide balance, and search for thruth and fairness in prosecuting their editorial policies.
Posted by Louise on December 15, 2010, 1:12 pm, in reply to "GUTTER PRESS":

Thank you for expressing your opinion on this matter. Well said and I could not agree more.
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City of Clarence-Rockland honours long-time volunteer firefighter, Gilbert Labelle
On 20 June 2010, the City of Clarence-Rockland officially recognized the work of Mr. Gilbert Labelle of Bourget who has dedicated 50 years of his life as a volunteer firefighter for the Firefighters Association of Township of Clarence.

It is very rare in Ontario that a volunteer firefighter accumulates so many years of service and the City Council of the City of Clarence-Rockland has appointed Bourget Barracks in honor of Mr. Labelle. City Council Clarence-Rockland wishes to thank Mr. Labelle for his dedication to the community.

Richard Lalonde - Mayor, Clarence-Rockland
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NOTE: The following items were sent in when I was still writing a column in the Vision newspaper. When the paper was bought out by a larger company, they dropped the columnists... money being the bottom line, as the space we took would convert to a few hundred dollars. - pwm, Editor

Local Tim Hortons Restaurants serious about environment
(Editor's comment: This letter goes back a few years, but still has merit. -pwm)

Every so often, I read in our local newspaper only to find out that our customers at our Tim Hortons' restaurants are the 'number one' polluters in our beautiful City of Clarence-Rockland.

In his columns, Patrick Meikle frequently accuses that our restaurants' patrons are solely responsible for the neglecting the environment in our city. Maybe Mr. Meikle is correct in assessing his observation for determining those culprits. However, we would like to point out our pro active approach for discouraging customers who neglect the environment by constantly throwing the Tim Hortons' cups on our parking lots and in our city's streets: We are convinced that Mr. Meikle is fully aware that Tim Hortons is the only 'fast food' company in Canada that serves china cups, stainless steel cutlery as a alternative to paper cups for our in-store customers. Furthermore, our restaurants offer a substantial discount to all our customers who purchase a travel mug instead of the paper cups.

In our two restaurants in Clarence-Rockland, we invested in 15 garbage containers on our properties to encourage customers to respect the environment and discard their litter in the appropriate garbage areas. On a daily basis we dedicate a full time employee ( in all our three locations) to maintain the cleanliness of our properties. But most importantly, we would encourage our by-law officers to utilize our tax payers' dollars to enforce the law and ticket those who constantly and knowingly disrespect our initiatives in keeping the community clean and free of debris. Finally we ask all our faithful and loyal customers, please stop littering.

Yves Paris
Tim Hortons, Rockland

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Votre orthographe et gramaire...
Allo M. Meikle,

Object: Article dans Vision du 18 février, 2005
Votre orthographe et grammaire sont excellentes. BRAVO!!!
We love your articles. Keep up to good work.

R. Trottier - Location unknown
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Baseline Road should be called BADline RD...!! Looking back...
(Editor's comment: We keep this letter on our website because here we are six years later and the road is worse than ever! -pwm, Editor)

(30 Jan 2005) - This last stretch of road just before Canaan Road is simply a disaster. Although the extreme cold and snow have not helped keeping this road stable, it is simply unacceptable.

My husband and I communte through this road everyday in order to get on the 17 and lately we have been forced to take an alternative route. The potholes are simply too deep and too many to avoid. We counted over 15 potholes that are more than 1 ft wide and almost 1 foot deep. Trying to avoid one of these huge potholes in the winter is also a hazards as it is very icy!!

Although the last part of Vinette Road is a dirt road and you cannot go 80kmh, it is pothole free.

The last time I looked we were paying taxes, this is simply unacceptable. Even when we get a snowfall this road seems to be a forgotten child. It is always the last one to be cleaned. Sometimes I wonder if this road has been taken off the map!!

Can we put this road back on the map and clean it up???

Lucie Meloche - Clarence Creek
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Keep up the good work
I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that I look forward reading your column every week. I find it interesting and sometimes informative in regards to the community’s events.

Keep up the good work.

P.B. - Clarence-Rockland
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