Pointe-Claire residents will be voting for a mayor for the first time since 2005 and CBC Radio's Daybreak spoke with the two candidates for the position, Morris Trudeau and John Belvedere.
Trudeau is a retired police officer and councillor for Pointe-Claire's district 8 - Oneida, a position he has held since 1998. Belvedere is a retired businessman and longtime resident of Pointe-Claire who is running for council for the first time.
Here are excerpts from their talk with Daybreak host, Mike Finnerty.
The PCB clean-up
Mike Finnerty: I want to start with the PCB problem at Reliance Power. I don't want to rehash what happened, but I want to look at what lessons there are for the future. A couple of weeks ago, we spoke to [Nicholas Bouchard, Director-General for the City of Pointe-Claire] and he said he would do nothing differently next time around. The thing is, city employees knew about the PCB spill in March but the council didn't know, and [outgoing] Mayor Bill McMurchie didn’t know until newspapers found out in August. Does it make sense that council was kept in the dark until August?
John Belvedere: No, it doesn’t make sense. I remember driving by and seeing a Pointe-Claire truck outside of the Reliance building when the spill took place in March and the information didn’t filter up to the mayor is unacceptable. I think, in the future, if I become mayor, you’d have someone in charge who would handle those types of files and the information would be immediately transmitted to the mayor.
MF: But the director-general doesn’t think he did anything wrong - how is that going to work? You do have to have good relations with these people - they run the city.
JB: Absolutely. We’re not going to pass any blame but we can improve the system. We now had this experience and can we make changes and make it function better? Absolutely. And that’s what I’m bringing to the table.
MF: Morris, does the director-general have anything to apologize for? Did he do everything right, not informing the council about the PCB leak?
Morris Trudeau: I personally would have liked to have been informed when something like that happens. It’s obviously a major thing in a city like Pointe-Claire. We should have definitely been informed. That being said, everything that was done after we found out about the PCBs, we could not have had a better person in charge than Mr. Bouchard and Mayor McMurchie. They handled the dossier excellently. Right now, all the PCBs have been removed from Pointe-Claire and there is absolutely no danger on that site. That is something that Pointe-Claire can be proud of.
MF: Do you agree with that, John? Are you on the same page?
JB: Not really. I agree that all the PCBs, the liquid PCBs have been removed. But an even bigger issue than that - yesterday, there was a meeting held with all the real estate agents of the West Island held by the provincial government association that overlooks them all, to inform the agents that if any of those houses are to be put on the market, they’ll have to declare that they’re in an area with PCBs. So, while you’ve removed the danger, you have a new problem coming up with people who may not be able to sell their homes immediately or sell them at a monetary loss. How are these people going to be compensated?
On running for mayor
JB: Because I’m very passionate about Pointe-Claire. I love the citizens and I think they need a voice and someone to stand up for them, someone to represent them and that’s what I’m there for.
MF: Hasn’t the council been doing that over that last 15 years under the McMurchie regime?
JB: To a certain extent, but there’s always room for improvement and Mr. McMurchie is retiring. I retired myself in 2005 and I’ve got the energy and enthusiasm and the business and common sense to take it to the next level.
MF: And Morris Trudeau, why do you want to stay on council? You’ve been doing this job for as long as Bill McMurchie was there. Why do you want to become the mayor?
MT: I’ve been serving Pointe-Claire for 50 years — 35 years as a policeman and 15 years as a councillor. I believe the next four years are very important for Pointe-Claire and I do have a bit of energy left and will continue to fight for Pointe-Claire.
On Pointe-Claire Village
MT: We will listen to the merchants in the village. My father-in-law was a merchant in the village 50 years ago. There were three hardware stores in the village and they all left for various reasons. I know the problems in the village and I will do my very best to help them. They have to come and see us and we will talk.
JB: I live right down the street from the village, I’ve been there for 22 years and I’ve heard about it for the last 22 years how they’re going to revitalize or rejuvenate the village and it hasn’t happened. Being an entrepreneur all my life, I realize what the businesses need. We need to populate the village, we need to get people coming to the village from across Montreal, we have to put in public washrooms, it’s on my plate to move that forward.