Norm Roberge was officially sworn in as the West Nipissing municipal councillor for Ward 7 on Tuesday, June 21, nearly two years after former councillor Jeremy Seguin vacated the seat. The nomination of Roberge, the runner-up in the 2018 election and former councillor for the ward, was shrouded in conflict and controversy (read guest editorial on page 4) as four members wanted him named immediately as runner-up, and four wanted a by-election and then, when that was no longer possible, opted for another candidate. It took intervention from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs threatening fines if a councillor was not named by June 30, and still the 4-4 tie could not be broken. In the end, the winner’s name was drawn out of a box among the two finalists, Roberge and Fernand Pellerin.
Despite the drawn-out process, Roberge was pleased to be taking his oath of office in person at town hall Tuesday, saying he wanted to be there physically “to put my hand on the bible and read the statement.”
Roberge, who has worked in municipal administration for 41 years and served on WN council for 12 years, already knows his way around council chambers. He is still active on four council committees, and thus works with current council members. He says he’s not interested in joining a camp or feeding the current division, but would rather build positive momentum. “I do have the desire to see my community progress and improve, if possible, and help people if they are in need of something that I can help. That’s what motivates me. I am a member of the Knights of Columbus and one of the main objectives of that group is to help, to assist people who are in need, so I guess it’s kind of part of my system to do that,” he says with a laugh.