Embattled borough mayor Sue Montgomery seeks to have suspension quashed in Quebec Superior Court

Borough mayor for Cote-Des-Neiges Sue Montgomery wearing a mask in Montreal, Que., Sunday, November 8, 2020. Mario Beauregard/The Canadian Press

A Quebec Superior Court Judge is reviewing a request for a stay of proceedings in the case of embattled Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough Mayor Sue Montgomery.

Montgomery’s lawyer, Eric Oliver, filed an emergency request on Monday after the Quebec municipal commission slapped the mayor with a 120-day suspension without pay for ethics violations committed while in office.

In June, the commission found Montgomery guilty of 11 ethical breaches, but cleared her of 17 other charges. All 11 breaches involve a 2019 human resources complaint alleging that Montgomery’s former chief of staff, Annalisa Harris, harassed two members of the borough staff.

In a 71-page sentencing report, the commission outlined how Montgomery failed to uphold the city’s code of ethics and professional conduct in regards to articles 29 and 30.

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Article 29 states that an elected representative must act with respect towards colleagues, city employees and office member staff, while article 30 pertains to the obligation of promoting a harmonious and respectful work climate free from harassment.

Oliver argued his client has been unfairly treated and shouldn’t have to serve a suspension until she is given the opportunity to plead her case.

“My client has been subjected to a panoply of allegations, unproven, unfounded at the limit of being libelous,” he said. “There was never any tribunal who said that my client was responsible for psychological harassment, nor that there was a toxic climate, labour climate at the borough.”

Oliver also wants her ethics violations to be dropped.

“So what we’re asking the superior court is to put this to rest and to redeem the reputation of my client because it seems that this is something that we cannot achieve other than in a court of law,” he said.

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Superior Court Judge Mark Phillips agreed to hear arguments pertaining to the validity of the ethical breaches. A hearing has been set for Oct. 5.

The delay was seen as a small victory.

“I think it shows the seriousness of our allegations and the concern of the Superior Court in what has happened in this process,” Oliver said.

A decision is expected in the next few days as to whether Montgomery’s suspension will be lifted.

In the meantime, Ensemble Montreal’s Lionel Perez will be taking over as acting mayor.

— with files from Global News’ Olivia O’Malley and Alessia Maratta

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