Ottawa

Missing mayors: Outaouais towns go into election with no one seeking top job

Many sitting mayors, councillors, running unopposed

CBC News

October 06, 2017

The town office in Saint-Sixte, Que. The community is one of five in the Outaouais which could potentially go into the 2017 municipal election with no one running for mayor. (Radio-Canada)

Updated

Hours before the candidate filing deadline for the upcoming Quebec municipal elections, five Outaouais communities still have no one running for mayor.

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The communities without mayoral candidates as of Thursday evening are:

Several communities only have one person who has filed for the position of mayor. As well, there are hundreds of council spots across the Outaouais with no one seeking to claim them, according to an analysis carried out by Radio-Canada.

Candidates have until Oct. 6 at 4:30 p.m. to register with Quebec's director general of elections (DGEQ).

"The posts must be filled or the municipality may be placed under guardianship," Jérôme Couture, a political scientist and researcher at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, said in a French language interview with Radio-Canada.

Some municipalities may also have to go to the polls twice, Couture said: first to elect their mayors and council positions for which there are declared candidates, and later to fill any remaining empty spots.

Many mayors running unopposed

In addition to the five communities without mayoral candidates, 35 others could also have their mayors returned to office by acclamation.

In two communities — Shawville and Lac-Sainte-Marie — there may be no need to vote at all, as no candidates have come forward to challenge the incumbent mayors and councillors.

André Belisle is the outgoing mayor of Saint-Sixte, Que. His decision not to run in the 2017 municipal election could leave his community with no candidates for mayor. (Radio-Canada)

Part of the reason for the lack of candidates is the financial incentive to run simply isn't there, said André Belisle, the outgoing mayor of Saint-Sixte, Que.

"We have about $800 a month allocated for a mayor," said Belisle, who works as a heavy machine operator when he's not overseeing affairs in the town of about 500 people, about 60 kilometres northeast of Ottawa.

"I have to return to the work that I love from time to time, which allows me to survive," he told Radio-Canada in French.

Couture said the lack of candidates isn't necessarily a sign of problems, however — instead, it shows a certain contentment on the part of voters.

"It's often a sign in the small municipalities that people are satisfied with the elected officials in place," he said.

"What you notice, when people are dissatisfied, is that there will be candidates running against outgoing elected officials and there will be a higher turnout. "

Municipal elections in Quebec are scheduled for Nov. 5.

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