A male city councillor is under fire for a sexist comment he made at city hall, but the female councillor on the receiving end is declaring victory after reflecting on the experience.
The incident took place during a meeting of Montreal’s Finance and Administration Committee at city hall.
“For sure it was absolute shock and I think it was very clear on my face,” said Lisa Christensen, a city councillor in Pointe-aux-Trembles.
On Thursday, councillors including Christensen were discussing the STM budget. Christensen, a longtime mechanic and host of a radio show about cars, asked the head of the STM about a particular modification for some buses. Fellow Pointe-aux-Trembles Coun. Richard Guay appeared impressed.
“Thanks madame Christensen. For a woman… a woman mechanic, well done,” Guay said over the council chamber PA system.
WATCH: A case of sexism at Montreal City Hall?
Christensen and Coun. Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde both developed looks of sheer disgust on their faces.
“There is no place for that type of statement in this room,” Lavigne-Lalonde retorted.
For Christensen, the sexist remark was nothing new.
“That happened many times over my career as a mechanic,” she told Global News on Friday. “For the 20 years I worked physical labour in the garage, that’s what I heard every day.”
Westmount Mayor Christina Smith also sits on that committee, and was in the room at the time.
“It was a very outdated comment,” she told Global News. “It’s good for him to be reminded that type of discourse doesn’t have a place, and certainly not in this city hall.”
“Three seconds after it came out of his mouth, he said, ‘I didn’t mean it like that,'” recounted Christensen.
Later in the meeting, Guay apologized to Christensen and Lavigne-Lalonde.
“My remarks were very inappropriate,” he said, explaining he had tried to point out how others in the room appeared surprised at Christensen’s mechanic knowledge.
Christensen said the outpouring of support she’s had since the incident proves that things are a lot different now than when she started.
“It’s 30 years later and I can honestly say it’s no longer acceptable. Women and men everywhere are saying that and it’s like a vindication for me,” she said.
Mayor Valerie Plante said the comments show there is “still sexism in 2018,” and that this is a “clear case.” Plante, however, was also encouraged by the reaction.
“I appreciate the fact that in a public space, this doesn’t work anymore. People don’t want to accept that kind of behaviour,” Plante told Global News.
Guay would not comment on what happened. His party Ensemble Montreal told Global News that Guay had already apologized and would not say anything more.