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B’nai Brith Concerned About Municipal Government Oversight in Quebec

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Nancy Blanchet, Chair of the Agglomeration Council of Montreal (MTLVille on YouTube)

February 5, 2024

MONTREAL – B’nai Brith Canada is concerned after a Quebec government commission summarily dismissed two complaints made by the organization about the repeated targeting of Jewish politicians in the province.

B’nai Brith initially filed a complaint in mid-January with the Municipal Commission of Quebec (CMQ) after protesters used the question period at the Dec. 21 session of the Agglomeration Council of Montreal – a body largely responsible for urban planning – to target Jack Edery, the representative of Jeremy Levi, Mayor of Hampstead. Both are Jewish, and the questions asked of them related to the Israel-Hamas war rather than official city business.

The CMQ dismissed this complaint a few days later without comment despite apparent violations of the assembly’s rules by the protesters.

Nine of the 10 questions asked at the Agglomeration Council’s most recent sitting, on Jan. 25, had nothing to do with agglomeration issues. All were related to the Israel-Hamas war. They directly or indirectly targeted Mayor Levi, who recently spearheaded the adoption of a bylaw that would fine anyone defacing posters of Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas. This second scandal prompted B’nai Brith to send another letter to CMQ president Jean-Philippe Marois, urging him to investigate the violations of the Council’s bylaws.

In its Monday morning decision, the watchdog commission wrote that the “facts do not justify an investigation,” even though B’nai Brith presented evidence that, on both occasions, the speakers misrepresented the nature of their questions on forms required in advance to speak at the assembly. Such misrepresentations violate the Council’s bylaws.

Such disruptions have dominated the most recent two Agglomeration Council meetings. In both cases, the chairperson failed to use her authority to reign in the demonstrators, despite having the power to do so.

“It is disappointing that our bona fide concerns have been ignored by the primary organization in Quebec responsible for monitoring the province’s municipal governments,” said Richard Robertson, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Research and Advocacy. “We call on the CMQ to reconsider its hasty decision and take note of the problems we have raised, and to address them immediately.

“It is alarming that the CMQ would summarily dismiss our serious concerns despite strong evidence that the Council’s bylaws were violated. This sets a problematic precedent  and, sadly, may give fringe protesters the idea that they can disregard the rules and disrupt the proceedings of municipal councils.”