Guy Desjardins, mayor of Clarence-Rockland, dies at 71

Desjardins, who was first elected as mayor of the eastern Ontario city in 2014, died Saturday, officials said. He had been battling cancer and had taken a leave of absence last month.

Desjardins was battling cancer and had taken a three-month leave of absence

Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins died Saturday, city officials said. Desjardins had been diagnosed with cancer and had taken a leave of absence last month. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Guy Desjardins, the mayor of Clarence-Rockland, Ont., has died.

According to a city press release, the mayor passed away on Saturday. He was 71, officials said, and had been battling cancer.

Desjardins was elected as mayor in October 2014 and was re-elected in October 2018. Prior to that, he had served as a councillor.

At the June 21 municipal council meeting, Desjardins requested and was approved for a three-month leave of absence due to his health.

Deputy Mayor Michel Levert has been handling Desjardins' duties as head of the eastern Ontario municipality.

'Man of character'

"He was an endearing person. He was a man of character," said Stéphane Parisien, general manager of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.

"We are losing a great man, a leader and someone who didn't mince his words but who always told us the truth."

Jean-Marc Lalonde, former mayor and MPP, told Radio-Canada he remembered Desjardins as someone who was constantly smiling.

"He was a person really attached to his job as mayor," Lalonde said in a French-language interview.

In a French-language statement posted on Twitter, local MPP Amanda Simard expressed her sympathies and thanked Desjardins for his dedicated service to his community.

For many, Desjardins' legacy is tied to plans to redevelop the Roger-Séguin Visitor Centre in Clarence Creek.

"I know he worked very hard for that, and he will be successful," said François St-Amour, the mayor of neighbouring La Nation, Ont. 

Desjardins is survived by his wife Aline, his daughter Tanya, and his sons Christian and Jason.

Clarence-Rockland is approximately 40 kilometres east of Ottawa.

With information from Radio-Canada's Rémi Authier

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