Father of 16-year-old boy demands apology from Anjou mayor for 'deplorable' remarks toward teen
The boy had appeared before Luis Miranda at a council meeting to inquire about closed soccer fields
The father of a 16-year-old boy says he's considering filing a complaint against the borough mayor of Anjou if he refuses to apologize to his son for what he described as "unacceptable" remarks made toward him after he asked a question during a city council meeting last week.
Last Tuesday, Hocine Ouendi — then 15 — appeared before Mayor Luis Miranda at the borough council's meeting to say he was disappointed the borough had decided to close several synthetic soccer fields in August without any notice.
"I wanted to know why he closed the fields and if there was a possibility of them reopening," Hocine said Sunday.
In a recording of the session viewed upward of 9,000 times and counting, Hocine is seen approaching the microphone and asking his question.
Miranda — visibly irritated — responds with a tirade, saying the decision to close the synthetic fields was made following "incivility" by "the majority" of young people who go there.
He said electric scooters, bicycles and trash have been brought and left on the field. Elderly people have also been pushed away due to the "aggressive" behaviour of some.
"If you're a parent, talk to your kids," Miranda snaps at Hocine. "Talk to your kids, educate your kids because there are many who are poorly educated."
Hocine interjects, telling the mayor he is just 15. He says he doesn't understand why Miranda is approaching the subject "in a really aggressive way."
Shortly after, Miranda refuses to continue the exchange with Hocine because of his age.
"I, at 15, would not have come to confront the mayor like you did. I don't know why it's you. It should have been your father or your mother who should have been here," he said.
"If I had known that you were 15, I would not have spoken to you."
WATCH | Anjou Borough Mayor Luis Miranda laces into teen:
A duty to listen as mayor
Hocine's father, Smail Ouendi, says he was shocked to hear what Miranda had said.
"The mayor's reaction to my son was aggressive and deplorable," Ouendi said. "This is a youth that had a question to ask about something that concerned him personally ... and he shouldn't have acted that way."
Hocine said he feels like the mayor discriminated against him because of his age.
"The part that upset me the most is when he said like, 'I don't have to talk with you, you're young … you have no right to speak with me,'" he said.
"As an elected official, you have a duty to respect everyone that comes to speak with you, no matter your opinion, if it's contrary to your own, you're supposed to listen to them."
If I had known that you were 15, I would not have spoken to you.- Anjou borough Mayor Luis Miranda
Miranda didn't respond to CBC's request for comment.
In a response provided to the Journal de Montréal, he admitted that he was tired and that he should not have spoken to Hocine in that manner. However, he added that he had already discussed the situation on several occasions with some young people "who did not want to let it go."
A disproportionate solution
Hocine says he recognizes that some young people can cause trouble, but he considers the borough's decision to close the fields a disproportionate response.
"We must not deprive everyone of soccer fields," he said, adding the bad behaviour only represents a minority.
He said closing off the grounds is also not an effective solution because those responsible for the problems "will return next year and will cause trouble elsewhere in the meantime."
During the council meeting, Hocine proposed hiring more park wardens to monitor the grounds as well as creating a free play schedule.
In response, Miranda said his decision was final, adding the teens who go there need to "look at yourselves in the mirror" and ask why the only sport with problems in the borough is soccer.
"We deserve an apology from Mr. Miranda and we ask for the reopening of the soccer field for our young people for the remainder of the season," Ouendi said.
So far, neither the mayor nor the borough have attempted to contact Hocine.
with files from CBC's Kwabena Oduro and Radio-Canada's James-Patrick Cannon