Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Mayor Sue Montgomery is claiming victory, after a Quebec Superior Court Judge granted a permanent injunction forcing the City of Montreal to lift restrictions against Montgomery’s chief of staff, Anna Lisa Harris.
Under the restrictions, Harris was not allowed to communicate with borough employees or take part in any meetings with borough officials.
“I’m very relieved. It’s a great day for democracy. It’s a great day for justice and a great day for the people of Côte-des-Neiges,” Montgomery said on Friday.
The city’s comptroller general made the recommendations following an investigation that determined Harris had psychologically harassed two members of the borough staff.
Montgomery argued the measures against Harris were unjustified and and made it very difficult for Harris to do her job. Montgomery equated it to a firing in disguise.
In his decision, the judge agreed that the directives issued by the comptroller general were “unreasonable” and too “broad.”
Montgomery’s lawyer, Eric Oliver, said he was not surprised with the judge’s decision.
“The comptroller general has only the power of council,” he said. “He has no power to decide to move employees, to remove them without pay, without the approval of the elected officials. So we’re quite happy with the result.”
The judge, however, said the ruling doesn’t mean that the city can’t emit new directives, but noted they need to be reasonable and “proportional to the facts under study.”
Montgomery and Harris say the decision will allow for a return to normal.
“For me, it means I can do my job,’ Harris said.
“My job is to work on behalf of the people of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. My job is to get elected officials all the information they need in order to do their jobs, in order to make decisions on behalf of the borough. My job is to help residents with their problems. If I can’t communicate with bureaucrats, I can’t do my job.”
The city for its part said it had taken note of the judgement. It notes that Justice Bernard Synnott confirmed that there the workplace climate at the borough is unhealthy and that the mayor had a role in that. They say they will review the judgement to find options to find long-term solutions to improve the situation.