Should the fate of Saint-Apollinaire’s cemetery project have been decided in a referendum? – Montreal

Quebec’s Muslim community will not have a place to bury their dead near the rural municipality of Saint-Apollinaire, Que., and it all came down to fewer than 20 votes.

Some city mayors, who were in favour of the project, are now questioning whether a referendum was the way to settle the matter.

“Forty-nine people had the right to decide the fate of a project, which has a sociological impact that is very important in Quebec — just that is incredible,” said Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume. “We have to ask ourselves questions about our governance system.”

Here are the numbers:

Only residents who live close to the proposed site were eligible to vote. That’s 70 people.

Of those 70, 49 registered to vote in the referendum, and 36 of them cast a ballot in Sunday’s referendum.

  • 19 against.
  • 16 for.
  • One rejected ballot.

The 19 votes were just enough for a majority, eking out a win for the No side, an upsetting fact for leaders of the Muslim community.

“How can 19 people stop a project for several thousand people? It makes no sense,” said Mohamed Kesri from the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre.

Mohamed Kesri from the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre says the community will keep fighting for a place to bury their dead in accordance to rituals of the Islamic faith. (Radio-Canada)

“People are…outraged,” well-known Quebec imam Hassan Guillet told CBC. “They’re outraged at how come only 19 people can decide the fate of thousands of people.”

Referendums ‘not an ideal process,’ professor says

A referendum can be an effective way to exercise democracy, but only if certain conditions are met, according to one expert.

“They can be part of the solution, but they are not the whole solution,” said Dominique Leydet, professor of philosophy at UQAM and director of the Research Centre on diversity and democracy.

In this referendum, Leydet points to the low number of eligible voters as a concern.

“In this case, it was only the people in the…

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