Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

December 5th, 2012

Côte St. Luc council candidate Charles Lugassy was recently found by Quebec Court judge Johanne White to have violated an election rule, relating to the 2009 municipal campaign.

Sentencing took place Nov. 19. Lugassy was fined $1,000, and he was barred from voting or running in a municipal election for five years.

Lugassy ran against incumbent and eventual winner Glenn Nashen, and Sonia Cohen-Peillon.

According to the decision, it was alleged that Lugassy attempted to get Cohen-Peillon to withdraw her candidacy “by promising a benefit, which was reimbursement of [her] election expenses.”

The judge found that testimony offered in the case provided the evidence of the alleged offence and also found that there was no “collusion or conspiracy” between Cohen-Peillon’s witnesses, which included her friend, daughter and sister.

In his testimony, Lugassy “categorically denied” the offer was made to Cohen-Peillon, and that he did not consider her to be a formidable candidate.

Lugassy told The Suburban that his lawyer is evaluating whether to appeal the decision, and that he had decided not to run in the 2013 election before the court decision was made.

“The court decision is completely unfounded, and this is symptomatic of everything that has happened up to now,” the former candidate said recently. He accused the judge of attacking him by saying he instigated a candidate’s meeting at a local synagogue in October 2009 in which community members wanted one representative from the Sephardic community to run for election and not two, when it was actually organized by members of the Sephardic community.

“What is more reprehensible is that this whole thing has been instigated and encouraged by — I won’t mention names — the people who were against me. Nevertheless, there are going to be changes, with what we are seeing in society at large, all these people who are in place for so many years and who may be taking advantage of their positions, this will sound an alarm to the community in general when it comes to electing people who have been there for 20 years or more. By trying to eliminate me in that I won’t be running, that won’t solve their problem, the problem remains — an important segment of the community has not been represented, and they will bring out their voice loud and clear when the time comes.

“In this whole matter, I am the victim, not them. It is unprecedented in jurisprudence that someone who lost an election has five inquiries [against them], three of which did not go through. This is because I was a threat for them in the next election. I got 30 percent after a preparation of two weeks or less. They may do this to me now, but they won’t be able to stop the tide of others who are seeking to have a voice.

“If it’s not me tomorrow, it will be someone else. The demography of the community has already changed in Côte St. Luc — new, young Sephardim that are buying new houses, and settling here. The old community is going away and the young Ashkenazi don’t stay.”