Article by Martin C. Barry, in the Westmount Examiner
Following a period of uncertainty that threatened to drive the Westmount Municipal Association apart, the WMA has elected a new president and entered a phase of reconciliation.
“I really believe that this association has an important role to play and I think it has in the past,” new president Jean-Pierre Picard said during a meeting of the WMA last Monday evening following a unanimous vote in his favour. “Unfortunately, maybe in the more recent past, the performance maybe has been not what it has been in the past.”
Picard became president after Stanley Grossman, who was elected to the office in June, agreed to step aside as part of an understanding which had the backing of Dr. Henry Olders, a former WMA president. A fundamental disagreement by Grossman and Olders on the WMA’s orientation contributed to the perception that the WMA was increasingly divided.
Picard, a Westmount resident for the past 20 years, has been on the WMA board for about four months. He thanked Grossman for realizing that his candidacy and presidency were “potentially creating more problems for the organization than good. He was really a strong enough man to say, ‘Okay, for the good of the organization I will step down and see what we can do to make it go forward.’"
“There were some issues and some divided opinions about Mr. Grossman being president and he felt that for the good of the association it would be better if he stepped aside,” Picard told the Examiner. “He phoned me and asked if I would stand and then Mr. Olders did the same. So the two seemed to be aware of my contributions during the first three meetings and suggested I could be a candidate of reconciliation.”
Describing his role, Picard said, “I think the role of the president of any assembly is to get the assembly’s opinions and views and work on a consensus. You also have to lead and bring the association to some meaningful achievement. And I think in this case the association in past years did not have a permanent president and that leadership has probably been a bit lacking. So that’s what I will try to do and try to guide and move the board towards meaningful activities or issues for the Westmount population.”
The WMA board also elected Paul Marriott as vice-president, Helen Rainville as treasurer and Henry Olders as membership secretary. Another issue addressed during the meeting concerned membership. While it was as high as 6,000 at one point, membership now stands at a few hundred. “I’m concerned about our very low membership,” said board member Patricia Dumais, who had the issue placed on the agenda. “This has been brought to me by a number of prominent Westmounters who are concerned that the WMA is supposed to speak for the population.”
Photo: Martin C. Barry