'There's something horribly wrong here': Sue Montgomery stands firm on decision not to fire chief of staff
CDN-NDG borough mayor was kicked out of Projet Montréal following a harassment investigation
The borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Sue Montgomery, is standing firm on her decision not to fire her chief of staff, Annalisa Harris — and says she doesn't expect support for her mayoralty to wane.
Montgomery was kicked out of Projet Montréal Friday, following a harassment investigation into her employee by the city's comptroller general, Alan Bond.
"Have you seen the support on social media?" Montgomery told Mike Finnerty on CBC Montreal's Daybreak Monday morning. "People want politicians who stand up for what is right; and that's what I'm doing."
She says neither she nor Harris were given access to the comptroller's report, which concluded two employees had suffered psychological harassment at the borough office. Since the report was based on confidential testimony and documents, the city says it couldn't share it with those involved.
Montgomery says she has a legal obligation to respect due process.
"Show us the evidence so we can test it," Montgomery said. "There is something horribly wrong here. We are lacking transparency, and that is what we need in this city."
Since the report is confidential, it's not clear exactly what led to its conclusions — but Montgomery said she was given one example in which Harris sent an email to one of the complainants, saying, "This is unacceptable."
The city released a statement Monday saying the comptroller-general, along with a staff person from the mayor's office and someone in the city's human resources department, met Montgomery and briefed her on the general conclusions of the report.
"On that occasion, she was informed that the investigators had concluded that she was willfully blind in one of the psychological harassment files," the statement said.
"As a result, she became a party to the file, which required greater restraint in the communication of information, in order to protect the identity and preserve the anonymity of witnesses, which constitutes a legal obligation," the statement continued.
Montgomery said she believes Projet Montréal wanted her to fire the chief of staff because Harris had been "asking questions" about borough affairs and the budget.
She's still refusing to fire Harris, leaving it up to her to decide whether to stay or resign.
Montreal Mayor and Projet Montreal leader Valérie Plante said Monday at a news conference that Montgomery was being unreasonable.
"It's up to her to find solutions," said Plante. "You can play the victim and say you know it's not your fault or it's everybody else's fault, but ultimately her only solution was to keep this person in the same position."
Montgomery said she wants advice from the city's human resources department. She sat in council Monday as an independent while her chief of staff worked from home.
Montgomery said she has no plans to step down as borough mayor.
Harris has declined to comment.
With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak