France Belisle resigns as mayor of Gatineau, Quebec


France Bélisle resigns as mayor of Gatineau in the federal state of Quebec, citing a “hostile” climate in local politics.

Bélisle announced her immediate resignation during a press conference at Gatineau City Hall on Thursday morning.

At an emotional news conference, Bélisle said she decided to resign to protect her health and integrity, two and a half years after being elected mayor of the western Quebec city. The mayor said she had received death threats and intimidation from the public and other politicians.

Bélisle was elected as an independent mayor in November 2021 with 43 percent of the vote. This victory ended the eight-year rule of the Action Gatineau Party.

“I am aware that this news is a shock and will cause turbulence,” Bélisle said in French at the press conference.

“This decision is mine. It is the result of long reflection and a personal journey. However, I am aware that this decision may disappoint people.

“I am satisfied with the work I have been able to do and, above all, I know that I have always done my best.”

Councillor Daniel Champagne will serve as interim mayor of Gatineau.

According to the Quebec Association of Municipalities, nearly 800 municipal officials across the province have resigned since Quebec's last municipal election.

“This has never happened before in this province,” she said.

“More and more elected officials are leaving local politics and resigning from their positions in record numbers,” she said.

Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand said on social media: “It is not easy to lose a friend, ally and mayor who left no one indifferent. France, we will miss you. Quebec is losing a great mayor.”

Quebec's Prime Minister Francois Legault said on X: “I would like to thank France Bélisle for her years of service as mayor of Gatineau. I wish her all the best for the future.”

Gatineau MP and government leader Steve MacKinnon issued a statement on social media.

“The Gatinoises and the Gatinois will always remember your dedication and pride in serving them. Your leadership and commitment made a real difference,” MacKinnon said.

“Political life is hard and sometimes unfair. With your courage and determination, you have broken through a glass ceiling and shown that anything is possible. Thank you for everything and especially for your friendship.”

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said: “I deeply regret France Belisle’s resignation as mayor of Gatineau.”

“France has been a great partner and I will miss working with them to build a stronger economy for our entire region. I wish France all the best for the future.”

In a statement on social media, Action Gatineau thanked Belisle for her service to Gatineau.

“We offer our full cooperation to Mr. Champagne, who will take over the city hall in the future,” said Action Gatineau.

“We will continue our work in the Council with the same goal of ensuring the well-being of all citizens.”

The City of Gatineau says residents will be provided with details of a future by-election in the coming weeks.

“Although Ms. Bélisle's departure brings changes to the municipal council, all teams remain committed to maintaining stability and serving the population,” said the City of Gatineau.