Laurent Paquette apparently knows it’s easier to steal the message than to shoot the messenger. Last week, the outgoing mayor of Ste-Agathe, a resort town of 9,000 located 90 km north of Montreal, was caught on tape removing the election pamphlets of mayoral candidate Gilles Legault from voters’ mailboxes and doors. Yvon Doré, a Legault campaign worker, shot the video after noticing the disappearance of Legault’s election pamphlets. “We’d meet people who we knew and asked them if they got our pamphlets and they said no,” Doré says. “It was too much to be a coincidence, especially since we’d seen Paquette’s team on the same streets as us.”
In the video, which includes Doré running from behind bushes and driveways while filming the mayor, Paquette is seen going door-to-door in Ste-Agathe with Serge Bossé (the two men are running for city council in the Nov. 1 election, under a team led by mayoral hopeful Denis Chalifoux). Paquette can be seen removing Legault’s election pamphlets—documents that Doré himself had previously placed in mailboxes. “It’s nice to see you, Mr. Paquette,” Doré says when confronting the mayor on tape. “You have to be goddamn dishonest to do that, you know.” Doré then asks Paquette to give back the pamphlets, which the mayor does.
When contacted, Paquette was cagey about the incident. “I won’t answer any questions until I verify that you are indeed from Maclean’s,” the mayor said. He didn’t call back.
Doré has filed a complaint with the Sûreté du Québec, and hopes to see Paquette expelled from the race. “It’s a travesty of democracy,” he says. He’s not quite correct: according to the province’s election authority, to whom Doré also complained, removing an opponent’s election material is little more than vandalism.