Quebec’s politics is honest.

People talk about problems openly and directly, which helps explain why Quebec’s provincial government is trying to address the toxicity directed against municipal politicians. (Whereas in Ontario, we see it and try to forget it is happening)

The Globe and Mail reports: “At least 741 of Quebec’s 8,000 local politicians—almost 10 percent—have quit since 2021. In a fall 2023 survey of Quebec mayors and city councillors conducted by the Union des municipalites du Quebec, 74 percent reported experiencing harassment or intimidation.”

Gatineau’s mayor abruptly resigned in February.

“[France] Bélisle said she has been witness to personal attacks that go beyond normal political criticism, including death threats from members of the public. She said she decided to quit, effective immediately, to preserve her health and her integrity,” The Canadian Press reported.

In early April, three councillors resigned in Sainte-Pétronille. [The council here issued legal notices against local residents; this one is complex]

Carleton University’s journalism program spoke to experts about how toxicity is deterring women from seeking public office.

Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier shared she requires police protection.

The Province of Quebec plans to make threatening politicians a provincial offence, with fines of up to $1500. The new law will also include a fine of up to $500 for disrupting council meetings.

In my experience, threats from various political factions and extremes are becoming more common in municipal politics.

Privately, public figures share with me some of the anonymous threats they receive.

One can sense the tension in public meetings following January’s attack at Edmonton City Hall.

Hamilton City Hall now posts security guards outside the council chamber, with more security measures being considered.

On May 1st, Oakville North-Burlington MP Pam Damoff announced she is not running for re-election in the next federal election, citing toxicity as one of the reasons.


Addendum: Civil liberties groups are concerned about Quebec’s plans to make intimating municipal politicians a provincial offence. They say the legislation is too broad, vague, and prone to abuse, and it will stifle debate.

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