The Quebec Municipal Comission (CMQ)’s file on former L’Île-du-Grand-Calumet Mayor Serge Newberry has finally been closed. The organization, which oversees the ethics and conduct of public officials at the municipal level, released a summery of the case’s ruling on December 13. (The summary is only available in French and any excepts in this article have been translated).
In a decision reached on October 29, Newberry pleaded guilty to two of the six alleged infractions. The attorneys for the parties involved agreed to withdraw the other four in return for Newberry’s guilty plea. According to the summery, one of the infractions he plead guilty to was modified as well.
Initially reading “Between November 2017 and April 2018, he made vexatious, humiliating or intimidating gestures or comments towards the former Director General of the Municipality, thereby contravening section 10.2 of the Code”, the first charge was changed to “In February 2018, he failed to maintain respectful relations with the former Director General of the Municipality, thus contravening article 10.2 of the Code.”
The second infraction remained the same: “Between February 2020 and April 2020, he failed to maintain respectful relations with the former Director General of the Municipality, thus contravening article 10.2 of the Code.”
The summary goes into more detail about both infractions. In the first, it states that over the course of several days in February 2018, Newberry raised his voice to the DG, accused her of theft, questioned her experience as well as her management of municipal employees. It adds that the DG was placed on medical sick leave by her doctor on Feb. 27. On March 7, he, along with a municipal employee, approached the DG and asked for the passwords and combination of the municipal safe.
The DG then filed a complaint against the municipality with Quebec’s workplace health and safety commission, the CNESST. The Municipality and the DG settled the case out of court, without admission or recognition of responsibility on both sides.
The second infraction deals with complaints from a different DG between February and April 2020. It states that during a meeting with the regional housing office, Newberry admitted that “the bank reconciliations of the Municipality are not up to date, thus calling into question the skills of the employee in accounting.” In March, he raised his voice at the DG when she asked that he not intervene with municipal employees. In April, the DG refused to write a letter to the MNA asking for a special permission for a citizen to work in Ontario during the interprovincial travel ban. He was upset by this response and asked her to verify with the MNA’s office if they had jurisdiction.
Newberry pled guilty to both infractions and stated that he made the decision freely and voluntarily in order to avoid a trial and additional legal costs. The recommendation given to Judge Alain R. Roy was to fine Newberry 10 days salary for a sum of $430.90 for the two infractions, while withdrawing the others. Taken into account in the decision was the fact that Newberry cooperated with authorities, avoided a hearing that would have required convening witnesses, was invested in his community and chose not to seek re-election.
It also notes that he acted in good faith throughout the proceedings and has no prior history of infractions. The judge deemed the joint recommendations reasonable and they were accepted by the court.
Current Mayor Jean-Louis Corriveau said that he was happy the municipality would be able to turn the page on this episode.
When CHIP 101.9 contacted Newberry by phone for comment, he said that he would send written remarks. In the event that they are sent, this article will be updated to include them.
The full text of the decision is available here.