Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor Sue Montgomery to be suspended until elections

·3 min read
CDN-NDG borough Mayor Sue Montgomery was found guilty of 11 ethics violations in June.  (CBC - image credit)
CDN-NDG borough Mayor Sue Montgomery was found guilty of 11 ethics violations in June. (CBC - image credit)

Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor Sue Montgomery will be suspended without pay for up to 120 days, starting July 27, according to a ruling by Quebec's Municipal Commission.

Her suspension will be lifted at the moment of her swearing-in, if she is re-elected on Nov. 7.

Montgomery was embroiled in controversy after being found guilty of 11 ethics violations in June, prompting political rivals to call for her resignation. The 70-page ruling details how Montgomery refused or neglected to establish a work environment "free of harassment," violating article 30 of Montreal city councillors' code of ethics.

Montgomery's lawyer, Éric Oliver, says he is seeking to appeal the ruling and has filed an application for a stay of proceedings, which will be heard in Superior Court at 2 p.m on Tuesday, July 27.

The court is expected to render its decision on the request in the coming days.

Oliver says he has been arguing since last year that the judge appointed to the case is partial, calling the ruling a "clear demonstration of conflict of interest."

Judge Alain Roy, who is attached to the case, previously worked for the city of Montreal.

Oliver also called the timing of the ruling and the swift application of sanctions a "blatant attempt to use the calendar" to impede Montgomery's defence before the Superior Court.

"In most cases, the sanction imposed by the commission starts anywhere between a week and two weeks after receiving the decision," he said.

'Lack of remorse'

In his ruling, Judge Roy referenced a July 6 La Presse + article in which Montgomery explained that a joke she made about the city's comptroller general being blackmailed was sarcasm and was made privately among friends.

He said given the joke was about municipal politics, her comments were "misplaced."

"It clearly demonstrates Ms. Montgomery's lack of remorse, a lack of awareness of the seriousness of her comments and the consequences thereof, in addition to convincing the court that the risk of recidivism is very high," he wrote.

Roy says Montgomery's lack of previous ethics violations was not a valid argument since the purpose of a code of ethics is to ensure officials' exemplary behaviour and maintain the public's trust in them.

Temporary relief

In a tweet, Lionel Perez, the official opposition leader and rival for the job of mayor of the CDN-NDG borough, said he was relieved to see the Quebec Municipal Commission take Montgomery's ethical breaches seriously.

"Citizens can breathe easier," he wrote. "They are the real victims of this internal conflict at Projet Mtl, which has paralyzed #CDNNDG for over 2 years."

Catherine Cadotte, a spokesperson for Mayor Valérie Plante's office, told CBC News it is "high time" for the needs of CDN-NDG citizens to come first.

"For too long, [citizens] have suffered from the actions of the borough mayor and her personal struggles," Cadotte said.

"This long ordeal could have been avoided if the [CDN-NDG] mayor had put the public interest ahead of her private interests, but we are looking to the future that will better meet the needs of citizens."

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