Small-town Quebec mayor apologizes for saying periods may have affected colleagues' decisions

The mayor of a small town is apologizing for saying that female councillors changed their minds about a decision they made because they were menstruating.

Three women sit on council in Saint-Barnabé, Que., about 40 kilometres northwest of Trois-Rivières. They had initially voted in favour of a controversial snow-clearing contract, but later decided to speak out against it.

At a municipal council meeting last week, which was recorded by a citizen in attendance, Mayor Michel Lemay voiced some ideas about why they may have changed their minds. 

"Some of them maybe weren't feeling well ... or maybe they had their period that night," he said.

Speaking to Radio-Canada's 360 PM Wednesday, Lemay said it wasn't his greatest moment.

"I agree that it was inappropriate, and I apologize," he said.

None of the women on council wished to be interviewed. But a colleague, Coun. Guillaume Laverdière, called the comments "arrogant and condescending."

"He's insinuating that women who are menstruating can't make proper decisions. That's what that means," Laverdière said. 

"It showed a lack of respect to women, and to everyone who was in the hall."

Laverdière said the mayor's attitude and actions have made the environment at city hall toxic.


Lemay said he's been in contact with the Municipal Affairs Ministry to try and fix relations at city hall, with the hope of holding a mediation session with councillors in January.

Lemay was first elected mayor of Saint-Barnabé in 2005 and served until 2009. He is currently serving his second term.