Politics

Quebec Superior Court overturns two decisions against Sue Montgomery


“My reputation took a huge hit because of this, and that was pretty clear when I was going door to door during the election,” Montgomery said Saturday.

Article content

Former Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce mayor Sue Montgomery won a measure of vindication in her fight against the Quebec Municipal Commission.

Advertisement

Article content

In a judgment dated Friday, Quebec Superior Court Judge Alexander Pless overturned two key decisions against Montgomery.

A year ago, the municipal commission rejected Montgomery’s request for a stay of proceedings to be placed on charges filed against her before the administrative tribunal. It also found Montgomery guilty last summer of having committed 11 violations of an elected official’s code of ethics and suspended her without pay for the rest of her term. Her suspension was subsequently stayed so the judicial review could take place.

“I’m so, so happy,” Montgomery said Saturday in a telephone interview. “Obviously, it would have been nice had this come out before the election, but I’m glad the judge took his time and wrote a very thoughtful judgment. It was clear the city was out to get me from the beginning. The CMQ worked hand in hand with them to help them bring me down. The CMQ clearly is not an impartial institution.”

Advertisement

Article content

Commission lawyers are currently analyzing the decision, spokesperson Isabelle Rivoal said Saturday via email, declining to comment further. A spokesperson for Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Saturday the city wouldn’t comment because the ruling involves the commission.

Friday’s ruling marks another chapter in Montgomery’s long-running dispute with the city over a 2019 human resources report that concluded her then chief of staff, Annalisa Harris, harassed two civil servants, including the borough manager.

Montgomery was ordered by Plante and the city’s comptroller general, Alain Bond, to dismiss Harris without being allowed to read the human resources report, Pless wrote in his ruling. Plante expelled Montgomery from Projet Montréal in January 2020 after the C.D.N.-N.D.G. borough mayor refused to fire Harris.

Advertisement

Article content

A former Montreal Gazette reporter, Montgomery is suing Plante, Bond and the city of Montreal for $120,000 . The lawsuit, filed in June, alleges Plante and Bond made “false, defamatory, unfounded” statements in local news media that damaged Montgomery’s reputation. The commission can’t be sued because it has immunity.

Montgomery formed her own party for the Nov. 7 municipal election, but failed in her bid to win a second term as borough mayor.

“My reputation took a huge hit because of this, and that was pretty clear when I was going door to door during the election,” Montgomery said Saturday. “I was verbally attacked, and some people slammed the door in my face. They all believed these false allegations. I suffered a lot. It was hard for my kids to see my reputation dragged through the mud. I knew this wasn’t who I was, and I think it cost me the election.”

Advertisement

Article content

Throughout the legal saga, Montgomery maintained the process that led to the municipal commission’s decisions was inequitable.

In particular, she denounced the close nature of the relationship between the Direction du contentieux et des enquêtes, or DCE — the commission’s litigation and investigations arm — and the City of Montreal, saying that the DCE did not act independently of the city.

The DCE “did not respect its obligation to be independent,” Pless wrote in his ruling. It “behaved in a way that would lead a reasonable observer to conclude that the city influenced the commission and that they were acting in close collaboration.”

In March 2020, Montgomery received a formal notice to stop all sanctions against the two civil servants. The letter was printed on city of Montreal and DCE letterhead, and signed by Bond and Dave Tremblay, a lawyer for the commission.

Advertisement

Article content

After questioning Montgomery during its ethics investigation, DCE officials shared a recording of the conversation with their Montreal counterparts. “The commission admits it had a duty to keep the contents of Ms. Montgomery’s examination confidential, and did not have the power to share it with the city,” Pless wrote.

“A reasonable observer would conclude that the Direction du contentieux et des enquêtes exposed itself to the influence of the city,” Pless wrote. “The tribunal cannot caution this behaviour.”

The municipal commission now has 30 days to decide whether it will appeal the Superior Court ruling.

“The judgment proves that I was always acting in good faith,” Montgomery said. “All I wanted was to see that report about my chief of staff. I wasn’t going to fire someone without due process. I stood my ground and I paid for it professionally and personally, but I would do the same thing all over again.”

ftomesco@postmedia.com

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.