Sue Montgomery demands to see harassment report behind spat with Project Montreal
Published Monday, February 3, 2020 11:28PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, February 4, 2020 4:11PM EST
MONTREAL -- Lawyers are now involved in a dispute between Côte-des-Neiges--Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor Sue Montgomery and her former party, Projet Montréal.
Montgomery has received a cease and desist letter ordering her to stop publicly naming those in a harassment report centred around her chief-of-staff. Another letter asks her to stop claiming the borough has a "long history of corruption" or any public declaration calling into question the integrity of the borough's administration.
The west-end mayor was expelled from Projet Montréal last month, apparently because she stood by her chief-of-staff, Annalisa Harris, amid accusations of harassment.
At a council meeting on Monday, three Projet Montréal councillors noted they supported Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante's decision to expel Montgomery from the party.
A large crowd attended the meeting; some had organized and rented a bus to support her.
The City of Montreal's comptroller general, who had been asked to look into Montgomery's borough office, found evidence that Harris had allegedly harrassed two civil servants.
Montgomery did not take action against Harris following the investigation, instead demanding to see the report to understand the allegations against Harris. Her request was refused and she was expelled from the party.
Borough councillor and Projet Montréal member Christian Arsenault says the report couldn't be made public because of the law. In cases of harassment, confidentiality must be ensured not to jeopardize the identity of the accusers, he noted.
Montgomery was never asked to fire Harris, he added, she was only asked to ensure that she didn't contact the civil servants who accused her of harassment.
One of the accusers, he continued, is on paid leave because she cannot be guaranteed a safe workplace.
Montgomery "improperly managed the situation," Projet Montréal said in a statement. "We are extremely troubled by Ms. Montgomery's decision to reject the recommendations of the comptroller general and to question the credibility of the professionals who performed the investigation ... In harassment matters, no compromise is possible. Mayor Valérie Plante has made it known that no type of harassment will be tolerated."
Montgomery's lawyer says Harris was the first person to allege harassment against a high-level bureaucrat, but argues investigators focussed instead on her behaviour.