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Montreal opposition leader owes apology for celebration, council meeting: Mayor
MONTREAL -- Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante admonished the leader of the city's opposition party on Thursday for attending a city council meeting after possible exposure to COVID-19.
Plante said Lionel Perez attended the March 23 meeting just before his son underwent a COVID-19 test, which later came out positive.
"This raises questions about his ethics and judgment so what I'm asking is for him to immediately apologize to the people of Montreal," she said.
A spokesperson for Perez said the Ensemble Montreal leader only learned his son had symptoms when he received a text message during the council meeting. They added while Perez did not leave the meeting, he did maintain a distance of two meters between himself and anyone else.
In a statement Perez said he notified the city office of the test results after they were received on March 29 and went into solitary confinement, following public health guidelines.
Plante said Perez also owes Montrealers an apology for holding a private engagement celebration for his daughter amid the city's efforts to crack down on those who violate physical distancing measures.
Plante said Lionel Perez, leader of Ensemble Montreal, showed "a lack of judgment" for moving forward with the affair on Wednesday. Neighbours called police, believing a group had gathered at Perez's residence.
Perez said he and his family were celebrating at home and asked a musician friend to play in the driveway. His daughter lives with the family and her fiance is in New York.
“Given the difficult situation we are currently experiencing, we have decided to proceed with the engagement by teleconference,” said Perez in a statement. “To try to bring a little cheerfulness, I asked a friend to play music in my driveway, while respecting the government guidelines of social distancing.”
A neighbour, perhaps thinking a large group had formed when hearing the music called the police, and officers responded.
“We immediately collaborated with the officers and put an end to this little celebration,” said Perez.
"Perhaps it wasn't the best thing to do but obviously there was no ill will and I can assure you that the rules of social distancing were respsected."
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, tells CTV News that during the party, everyone stayed in front of their own homes.
“I don't know who called the cops, but there was really nothing to break up,” he insisted. “Perhaps the fact that many in the community have larger families made it look like there were people congregating. We are a family of seven who were all standing together.”
Perez said he understands the current climate can cause fear, and that the family respected physical distancing rules throughout the half-hour soiree.
“This lasted about 30 minutes, a short break during which my daughter and her fiance were able to live a beautiful moment of hope despite the current crisis,” said Perez.
Nevertheless, the longtime politician has faced some backlash from colleagues from different levels of government.
Former health minister Gaétan Barrette also chimed in on Twitter, telling Perez he "really should be embarrassed."