“Freedom of expression and mutual respect are values that are central to our democratic society,” said John Belvedere.
The mayor of Pointe Claire was referring to his council’s decision to support Quebec’s Union of Municipalities (UMQ) recent campaign to bring decorum in public service through respect for democracy.
“As elected officials, we are committed to representing our citizens, listening to them, helping them, and finding solutions to the challenges they face in order to improve everyone’s quality of life,” said Belvedere. “This is what we do on a daily basis, and it is important to us that it takes place in a spirit of respect for all parties.”
The gist of the UMQ campaign noted that “our democracy is rooted in our history. We choose those who govern us. In a democracy, we can all run for public office. When elections are held, citizens delegate the administration of the common good to people who offer their services, like us. This way of managing our living environments, our regions, has enabled us to achieve one of the highest living standards in the world, to live in security, to have the opportunity to lead our lives as we see fit, and to express ourselves freely.”
The concept is to value public discourse between politicians and the public without it degrading into insults, rude behaviour or trolling public officials online. The city noted that “in recent years, particularly with the rise in popularity of social media, lively but respectful debate has too often been replaced by insults, threats and intimidation.”
According to the city, debate was not always respectful pre-pandemic but with anxiety levels going into the red zone more these days and that “ it is not acceptable that women and men who have a public responsibility to serve their fellow citizens should be intimidated, forced to resign, sometimes even threatened with death, or forced to travel with police protection.”
The city is putting the campaign out now since there is a municipal election across the province next November.
“Let’s remember that elected officials and public office holders are committed to the well-being of their constituents. Let’s encourage political involvement, not discourage it,” the mayor noted.
“As elected municipal officials, we are proud to serve our fellow citizens. This is why we are calling for respectful democratic debate. We are saying: democracy with respect, out of respect for democracy. And we invite elected officials in all Québec municipalities to join the movement.”