The director of the Côte-des-Neiges – Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, Stéphane Plante, assures us that, contrary to what Mayor Sue Montgomery says, measures were quickly put in place to clean up the climate working at the Public Works Department.
Speaking at the borough council meeting on Monday evening, the senior official rejected the criticisms of Sue Montgomery who accuses him of having concealed the existence of a report indicating problems of incivility and intimidation at the waterworks division.
“I have to tell you, it’s extremely difficult. I’m used to these lawsuits. It’s been happening for several months. But to see that my colleagues are dragged into this whirlwind, I find it extremely difficult for them, “he explained at the start.
As reported The duty On Monday, an investigation carried out by an independent firm last year found that the work climate at the borough’s Public Works Department was “toxic” for some employees.
The report written by Severine Paladini of Expertise H2H reported repeated incivility, intimidation and favoritism. Stéphane Plante maintained that the conclusions of the Paladini report had been taken seriously by the management of the borough and that measures had been put in place to correct the shortcomings noted by the consultant. “The people who had been identified in the report and who were saying inappropriate words and doing things that were not appropriate were immediately met,” he said.
Meetings were also made with blue collar workers. In addition, an action plan was developed with human resources experts to correct the situation, he said, dismissing Ms. Montgomery’s accusations that the proposed measures were insufficient. “Regardless of the organization, there are work climate issues. It’s not normal, but it’s inevitable. Our job for us, as managers – when we can do our job and when we have no sticks in the wheels – is to make sure that we eliminate these problems, ”he said. he added, visibly upset by the mayor’s attitude towards him.
“I will not go any further because I do not want to get into trouble,” he concluded.
Tension was high during the borough council meeting, which was held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Borough mayor Sue Montgomery called on other elected officials to take action to restore a healthy work environment for employees of the Public Works Department. “I am extremely concerned about this report. There are specific and serious allegations of abuse of authority, psychological harassment and wrongful dismissal, ”she said.
Projet Montréal advisor Christian Arseneault underlined Sue Montgomery’s paradoxical attitude in this matter. “The mayor is against harassment in all its forms except when it occurs in her own office,” he noted, recalling that an employee could not return to work because the mayor could not provide him with a work environment free from psychological harassment. “I take the mayor’s statements on harassment with a grain of salt. “
For months, Sue Montgomery has refused to fire her chief of staff, Annalisa Harris, accused by the Comptroller General of having psychologically harassed two officials, including Stéphane Plante. In open war with the borough director, Sue Montgomery has suspended him four times in the past few months. Each time, the other elected representatives of the district reinstated him in his functions.
For her part, Councilor Magda Popeanu believes that it is not up to elected officials to interfere in the matter, as claimed by Sue Montgomery. She also asked the mayor if she or her chief of staff had ever recorded conversations with elected officials or city employees without their knowledge. Sue Montgomery replied in the negative.
“You are not the queen of Côte-des-Neiges. You are the mayor. You have obligations and duties, ”Ms. Popeanu said when Ms. Montgomery showed a hint of exasperation.
Elected officials also approved by majority a motion tabled by councilors Lionel Perez and Christian Arseneault asking that elected officials can now communicate directly with the borough director, Stéphane Plante, without having to go through Mayor Montgomery or the staff of his cabinet. Only the mayoress voted against this motion.
Earlier today, elected officials adopted the borough budget which provides for a 2% increase in the local tax. Mayor Montgomery denounced the small increase in funds granted by the city-center, which is limited to an indexation of 1%, to which is added a bonus in transfers for snow-clearing activities, parks and libraries. According to her, these sums are insufficient to cover the spending increases in Montreal’s most populous borough.
This extraordinary virtual meeting gave rise to acrimonious exchanges between elected officials, Projet Montréal councilor Christian Arseneault criticizing in particular Mayor Montgomery – expelled from Projet Montréal last January – for her inability to convince the Plante-Dorais administration to obtain more funds for the borough. ” You know what ? Projet Montreal doesn’t give a damn about CDN-NDG. And you, what did you do? What did Ms. Popeanu do? What about Mr. McQueen? All three of you are members of Projet Montreal, ”replied Ms. Montgomery, calling the transfers from the city center“ peanuts ”.
The budget was adopted by the majority, councilors Marvin Rotrand and Lionel Perez voted against.