Montreal

Sue Montgomery isn't backing down as Montreal asks province to intervene in harassment case

The City of Montreal is asking the provincial body overseeing municipalities to investigate Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor Sue Montgomery over her handling of a harassment case.

Montreal calls on Commission municipale du Québec to investigate Côte-des-Neiges-NDG borough mayor's

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the issue is now between borough Mayor Sue Montgomery and the Commission municipale du Québec. (CBC)

The City of Montreal is asking the provincial body that oversees municipalities, the Commission municipale du Québec, to investigate Sue Montgomery over her handling of a harassment case.

But the embattled borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor is swinging back, accusing Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante of allowing the city's comptroller general to hide the facts.

Montgomery was kicked out of the Plante administration's party, Projet Montréal, on Jan. 24 for refusing to fire her chief of staff, Annalisa Harris, following an investigation by the comptroller general into allegations of psychological harassment. 

On Friday, the City of Montreal issued a statement saying Montgomery should follow through on the comptroller general's recommendations, including that Harris should not have contact with employees at the borough office.

"The inaction of Ms. Montgomery is contributing to a difficult work climate which has consequences for the harmonious functioning of the borough," the statement said.

In response, Montgomery issued her own statement, saying she acted as soon as she was made aware of the allegations.

"I assigned a member of my team as the contact between my office and bureaucrats. The comptroller general has never asked me to fire my Chief of Staff," she said.

It was Plante herself who insisted Harris be fired, Montgomery said.

"Why is the Plante administration allowing the comptroller general to hide the facts?" Montgomery said. "I reiterate my request to Mayor Plante that she make the report public and redact confidential elements."

Montgomery says her priority is that the borough of Côte-des-Neiges—NDG continues to function well.

In September 2019, an investigation was launched into the workplace culture at the borough office and a confidential report was filed.

It concluded two employees had suffered psychological harassment at the borough office and recommended that Harris have no more contact with borough employees.

Montgomery has refused to fire Harris without due process, saying she wants to see the confidential report.

The borough mayor is named in the report for "turning a blind eye" to the alleged psychological harassment and therefore is not being allowed access to the report, the city has said.

Last week, Montgomery, a former Montreal Gazette journalist, said during the monthly borough council meeting that Plante knows the report is bogus.

In response, Plante accused her former ally of making "completely false and inaccurate statements" about her.

'For me, the story is over,' Plante says

Plante said on Friday that she excluded Montgomery from Projet Montréal to ensure a safe working environment for public employees. For those employees, Plante said, it is probably worrisome that Montgomery will not adhere to the comptroller general's recommendations to ensure a healthy workplace.

"I think Ms. Montgomery should have, since the beginning, listened to the comptroller general," she told reporters Friday. "That's what I expect from an elected official."

She said the issue is now between Montgomery and the municipal commission.

Sue Montgomery, left, and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante were once close allies. (Ivanoh Demers/CBC)

"I'm not part of this," Plante said.

"What I want is to have a borough that functions. Citizens are looking for leadership that is strong and respects public servants and [all] the people in the borough."

"That is all I'm interested in," she said.

"As a leader, I did what I had to do, and for me, the story is over. I am continuing. I have other things to do. I have a city to run."

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