Gatineau Mayor France Bélisle steps down, citing hostile political climate

The mayor of Gatineau, Que., says she’s stepping down effective immediately.

France Bélisle made the announcement Thursday morning at a news conference at City Hall, saying she is leaving to preserve her health and integrity.

She said in French that she does not want to keep participating in the current political climate, and that she’s received death threats. 

“I wondered about the price to pay to accomplish this demanding work in a context [that is], let’s say it, often hostile,” she said.

Bélisle said there needs to be more reckoning with why many elected officials in the province have resigned in recent years — nearly 800 of them municipally since the 2021 election, according to the Union des municipalités du Québec.

After her emotion-filled remarks, Bélisle left without taking questions.

Ottawa Morning14:14Gatineau mayor joins hundreds of Quebec municipal politicians who have resigned since 2021 election

France Bélisle cites the hostile political climate – including receiving death threats – as the motivation behind her decision to resign, effective immediately.

Byelection in the works

Bélisle became the city’s first female mayor when she was elected in 2021.

Quebec Premier François Legault thanked her for her service in a social media post.

Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand said he’s losing “a friend, an ally and a mayor who left no one indifferent”

“I admire your passion, your dedication and your courage which you demonstrate once again today by saying out loud what many of us experience in silence,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante on X.

Versant Coun. Daniel Champagne will be the maire suppléant, or acting mayor.

The city said in a post on X it’s working toward a byelection and will have more details in the coming weeks.

See also  Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault heading to China for climate talks

Quebec’s next round of municipal elections are scheduled for November 2025.

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