Mayors speak out against harassment

By Gabrielle Vinette
Mayors speak out against harassment
Casselman Mayor Geneviève Lajoie and Russell Mayor Pierre Leroux came forward about the harassment and abuse they face as politicians, and for Lajoie the gender-based harassment. (Photo : File photo)

Casselman Mayor Geneviève Lajoie and Russell Mayor Pierre Leroux are speaking out against the harassment they receive on a regular basis as municipal officials. 

On Feb. 22, Lajoie posted to her Facebook wall about her experience on the constant harassment she has been living with as a person in politics. She mentions how she has been subjected to “unspeakable comments and threats that have no place in a civilized society.” Lajoie received remarks that demean women and threats for exercising her duties as mayor, which she believes underlines the systemic abuse rooted in society. 

“This is not just an attack on individuals; it’s an assault on the very principles of equality and democracy,” Lajoie writes in her post. “Let us be loud, be bold, and unequivocally clear: harassment, in any form, against anyone, is unacceptable” 

Lajoie posted the comments the same day the mayor of Gatineau France Bélisle resigned to leave an environment she described as hostile. 

Lajoie urges all individuals who face injustices to raise their voices and “only through our collective outcry that we can hope to dismantle the systemic barriers that perpetuate this abuse.” 

Only three days prior, on Feb. 19, Mayor Leroux posted a more than 12 minute video addressing his sentiments on the issue. The video got over 2,500 views and 60 comments. 

He states that in the last few years, he has noticed that messages he has received and comments on his posts have become very negative. Leroux said he sees a lot of misinformation being spread on social media platforms, people holding grudges, and people who are taking one line from a conversation and turning it into a “clip of the day style weapon” against the township or council. 

Leroux apologises for stepping back on his social media. He expressed hope that the harassment would subside if he wasn’t engaging with the harassment.  

“I felt that if I stopped engaging with those people on social media, I would somehow provide less fuel for the fire. But now I realize: the fire will always be burning, and my absence will mean one less person throwing water on it.” 

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