Now they’re calling each other liars.
Is the Gaspé mayor’s water fight with Petrolia really a shakedown for more money?
The question can’t not be considered given a recent flurry of media activity. The answer though, we will never know
The Mayor and his Municipal Coordinator Daniel Côté say no and the mayor is demanding an apology from André Proulx President of Petrolia Inc. for suggesting so. But one prominent Gaspé entrepreneur, himself a board member with the company and who was also in attendance at the January 19th meeting, says otherwise.
According to a QMI’s Le Pharillon article by Gaspé reporter Marie-Claude Costisella ‘Le maire Roussy exige des excuses’ (Mayor Roussy demands apologies), available here, Gaspé businessman David McCallum said Mayor Roussy and his people “never spoke of drinking water” at all during the meeting and only wanted to discuss getting more royalty money for the city.
Furthermore, according to McCallum, when Mr. Proulx explained to the mayor that those sorts of negotiations take place with the Provincial government the reaction was, “he left, slamming the door.”
A scathing back and forth of media statements between Gaspé mayor Francois Roussy and Petrolia’s President André Proulx unfolded over conflicting versions of events regarding the meeting which was ostensibly about water quality. The meeting, held between the two men and members of their respective entourages has resulted in both accusing the other of lying about what was discussed.
It all started as word broke Sunday, the 27th, when Montreal’s 98.5 FM’s ‘Paroles de politiciens’ aired an interview with Petrolia president André Proulx. During the interview Proulx accused the mayor of enacting ‘Règlement 1205-12 sur la Protection des sources d’eau potable’ “by stealth” and as a means to “extract” further royalties from the company. Proulx also indicated that the this was the focus of the meeting.
This led to indignant counter-accusations of lying from the Mayor and accusations that Petrolia was spreading “misinformation” and attempting to “influence public opinion” on the city’s controversial, and legally untested, attempt to ban drilling at the Haldemand 4 site.
Nobody can know for certain what exactly happened behind those closed doors other than the people in the room that day.
The mayor and Coté claim they have minutes they took at the meeting, but those are certainly drawn into question as well. This leaves the citizens and taxpayers, not to mention anyone not living in Gaspé proper yet working or hoping to work in Gaspé, stuck in the middle.
With all we’ve seen in the way of corruption in the sphere of municipal politics in Quebec lately and with the murky history of municipal-commercial relations (exacerbated by both sides) in Canada, who the hell could possibly know who is telling the truth?
Personally, I think the Mayor would do well to stop campaigning against Petrolia. Ignoring the will of a majority of Gaspesians to climb in bed with anti-development radicals, when he should be publicly demanding they “stop spreading disinformation to influence public opinion” himself, weakens Mayor Roussy’s credibility and only lends weight to Petrolia’s, equally plausible, allegations against him.
The mayor can say he’s not against drilling as much as he wishes but his actions are stoking those fires and we’re seeing the consequences. Those people he has, knowingly or unwittingly, aligned himself with will never accept a compromise and will only strengthen their efforts to try scare the citizenry on any future development if he keeps exploiting them and stalling for time.
Go check out the comments left by people on the Ville de Gaspé Facebook page and see for yourself. It’s all right there, if he can’t see that he’s playing with fire with his ‘stunt-politicking’ he’s either willfully blind, or incompetent.
Playing Russian roulette with our economic futures by trying to insert a new kind of roadblock into one of the world’s most rigourous oversight systems by courting extremists is no position from which to claim the moral high ground.
Is it impossible that he could stepping ‘outside the box’ again to get a bigger slice of the pie than was already agreed to from Petrolia and its investors (i.e. the Quebec government)?
Maybe someday the people caught in the middle will get to find out.