Projet Montréal criticizes flyers distributed in Rosemont on eve of municipal election campaign
Équipe Denis Coderre says flyers respect city rules
Montreal's official opposition is crying foul after flyers were distributed on behalf of an elected city councillor days before the official campaign period begins.
Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie city councillor Marc-André Gadoury is shown on the leaflet beside Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and a City of Montreal logo. The flyer also lists accomplishments between the city and the borough, as well as contact information for Gadoury's office.
Gadoury will be leaving his role as councillor to run as a mayoral candidate in the borough, representing Équipe Denis Coderre. No reference to the upcoming municipal election is mentioned on the handout.
The official campaign period for the election begins this Friday, Sept. 22, and ends on election day — Sunday, Nov. 5.
Expenses for 'research and support'
In a written statement, the spokesperson for Équipe Denis Coderre, Marc-André Gosselin, said the flyers were paid for out of expenses reserved for city councillors for research and support.
As part of the Act Respecting the Remuneration of Elected Municipal Officers, every municipality with a population of over 20,000 — such as Montreal —"must include an appropriation to provide for payment of sums to councillors as reimbursement for their research and support expenses."
That includes advertisements aimed at the population to inform them of the name of their district councillor, as well as a photograph and information on how to contact their elected official.
Advertisements to promote a political party, or in the context of an election, cannot be paid for through the allocated funds.
"The contents of these officials' advertisements respect these criteria," Gosselin wrote.
"Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal acts transparently and in respect to these rules."
Projet Montréal calls expenditure 'unethical'
However, Projet Montréal officials say that using public funds for such material on the eve of an election campaign is "unconscionable."
"I personally have never done such a thing and would never do such a thing," said Alex Norris, city councillor for the Plateau–Mont-Royal borough.
"It's completely inappropriate, and Mayor Coderre should put a stop to this immediately. It's completely unfair to be using city resources to promote the re-election campaign of elected officials."
When asked if any members of his own party had done the same, Norris said that he had never heard of a Projet Montréal official making use of this resource before an election campaign.
"This is a budget set aside to assist elected officials in communicating with their constituents," Norris said. "It's not meant to be used for partisan purposes."
"It's an utter misuse of public resources, and it may be legal, but it is unethical."