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Former star journalist Sue Montgomery vies for mayoral seat in CDN-NDG

She made a name for herself in Montreal and beyond as a star reporter at The Gazette, known for her commitment to social justice, getting the  story behind the story, and getting it right.

That confidence and daring to tackle challenging assignments took Montgomery to a range of issues and venues: living conditions of Indigenous communities in Northern Quebec, Namibia becoming independent, South Africa emerging from apartheid, Haiti coping with the 2010 earthquake, and sexual abuse at Collège Notre-Dame.

Now 57, the Brampton, Ont.-born long-time NDG resident is focusing on a new career in municipal politics, as the Projet Montréal candidate for borough mayor in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, vying to replace incumbent Russell Copeman, now part of the Denis Coderre team.

Montgomery says her goals include “more communication with the
residents and more consultation.”

“Now things are done from the top down – I think we should do things from the bottom up,” she said in an interview at the backyard of the NDG duplex she shares with husband Ian Hamilton, executive director of Montreal-based Equitas, which provides education on how to advance human rights. Their son Michael is a Cegep student, and daughter Molly is in university.

“I don’t think there is enough transparency and when projects are done I don’t think residents are consulted,” she said, recalling she was among area residents who organized opposition to a plan for a Provigo at Claremont and de Maisonneuve, resulting in it being shelved.

As for her politics, she defines herself as a feminist and progressive who supports the $15 minimum wage and is committed “to help the less fortunate among us so we are all raised up. And the one percent needs to pay their fair share.”

Montgomery’s political career – she was a candidate for the New Democratic Party nomination in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount in 2015 – dovetails with her involvement in issues she covered at The Gazette, Canadian Press, and as a reporter during a one-year stint with Gemini News Service.

Reporting on the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989, she recalled that her desire to help out took over when activists seeking to overthrow the Communist regime and planning a general strike asked her to review the English version of their manifesto. Montgomery allowed her instinct to take over: Though she remembers being busy gathering material for her reporting, she sat in front of a typewriter and corrected the manifesto.

While on assignment in Port-au-Prince, she remembers that “Haitians in Montreal were texting me from here saying, ‘my aunt is at such and such a place, can you please go and make sure she is ok. I would go and then send them a message.

“There were people dying, I couldn’t just write about it. I actually helped feed people, helped dress some wounds, helped deliver a baby: You just couldn’t not help.”

Since leaving The Gazette, Montgomery has been looking for a new way to focus her energy.

“The last good story I could do was about the sexual abuse scandal at Collège Notre-Dame,” for which she was awarded the 2009 Judith Jasmin Award for journalistic excellence.

Reduced staff meant there were fewer opportunities for time-consuming investigative reporting, she said. “We just were not making a difference any more, we were just filling space.”

In many ways, she has never stopped making a difference. In 2014, Montgomery, with Toronto Star journalist Antonia Zerbisias, created the #BeenRapedNeverReported hashtag, which went viral and sparked a global discussion on sexual assault. After brief stints as media advisor with the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and then Amnesty International, Montgomery accepted an invitation to run for the borough mayor’s job with Projet Montréal.

“I am basically an activist, somebody who wants to get things done. When I was fund-raising for Haiti, I said, ‘let’s just do it.’ When families came here (seeking refuge from the earthquake), I said ‘let’s just do it.’

Montgomery doesn’t just talk: She not only raised funds for children from Nepal and Haiti who came
for specialized surgery at the Shriner’s Hospital, she billeted them in her home.

Municipal politics is where she feels she can have a direct impact.

“We live in a fantastic borough. There are amazing community groups here that are energetic, engaged. There is a real neighbourly feeling, but I don’t think we are living up to our potential. Côte-des-Neiges is very rich in all the different immigrant groups that are there, all the support groups. I think I can make a difference in supporting the very strong grass-roots movement here – they are the ones who know what needs to be done.”

When it comes to broad policy, Montgomery promises to campaign for a “fair share” of the city budget. She says the borough, the third largest contributor to city revenues and its most populated, is “underfunded.” She wants to invest more in cultural, recreational, and sports facilities, improve coordination and communication when it comes to road work, and strengthen bus service.

As for incumbent Copeman: “My main beef is that he is not a full-time mayor. He spends time on the Montreal executive committee.” Since November 2013, in addition to his borough mayor’s job, Copeman is responsible for housing and urban planning. “All that does is augment your salary and take you out of the borough,” she says.

“If I were to be mayor I would be here full-time.” Montgomery acknowledges that Copeman, a former Liberal member of the National Assembly and Associate vice-president, external relations at Concordia University, “knows his stuff.” But she points out what she sees as his shortcomings. “I don’t feel any passion from him. I find him very dismissive of residents at borough council meetings. He gets really short with people.”

Montgomery has no experience as a politician or manager – her university degrees are in political science and journalism – but she says her ease with people and her proven ability to learn quickly will make up for it.

When she pursued part of her undergraduate training at the University of Mannheim, she arrived there for courses in German not knowing the language, she said.

“If I can learn German, I think I can learn to be a mayor. People are sick and tired of the Old Boys club, spending $1 billion on the Montreal 375th birthday party when there are so many other things to attend to. Why not put that money into subsidized housing?

“What makes a good manager is someone who listens. People just want to be heard and I am someone who listens.”

irblock@hotmail.com

6 Comments

  1. What kind of “feminist and progressive” not only condones her religious community’s immoral, UNethical, and even borderline criminal attempted misuse of Canada’s blasphemy law in UUA* clergy sex abuse cover-up legal bullying that was-is quite evidently intended to conceal “such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape” most certainly committed by “certain Unitarian Universalist ministers” from the public, but even knowingly and willfully participates in cynical misuse of Canada’s criminal justice system by Montreal Unitarians in misguided efforts to force an end to my ability to freely exercise my constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and freedoms by engaging in peaceful public protest against Unitarian Universalist clergy abuse, and other U*U injustice, abuses and hypocrisy outside the Unitarian “Church” of Montreal?

    Montreal Unitarian, and “retired” Montreal Gazette “Justice Reporter”, Sue Montgomery is a two-faced hypocrite who is guilty of a variety on UNethical behaviors from where I stand. I find it to be quite an interesting “coincidence” that The Gazette’s “star journalist” “Justice Reporter” Sue Montgomery was offered a buy out by PostMedia within a few months of my protesting against her complicity in Unitarian Universalist clergy abuse outside the editorial offices of The Gazette in early 2015. I suspect that Sue Montgomery’s “less than ethical” misuse and abuse of the services of Montreal media lawyer Mark Bantey (possibly with the full knowledge and backing of The Gazette editor Linda Chodan. . .) in highly questionable legal bullying that falsely accuses Yours Truly of libeling Sue Montgomery, when all of my allegations about her complicity in U*U clergy abuse cover-up etc. are very solidly supported by hard evidence may well have contributed to PostMedia making Sue Montgomery a “buy out” offer that she could not refuse in early 2015. Sue Montgomery somehow persuaded Montreal media lawyer Mark Bantey, who typically works for institutions like The Gazette, to assert in a foolish cease and desist demand letter that Sue Montgomery “will not hesitate” to sue Yiurs Truly for libel if I did not take down aka delete allegedly “libelous statements” about her on December 4th of 2014. I never deleted so much as a comma from my blog posts and Tweets about Sue Montgonery, and I have repeated everything that I am saying about Sue Montgomery on numerous occasions in public forums such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. More than 1000 days later I am still waiting for a VERY hesitant Sue Montgomery to get around to acting upon her quite evidently empty threat to “not hesitate” to sue me for libel. I would only be too happy to prove what I am saying about Sue Montgomery’s complicity in Unitarian Universalist clergy abuse cover-up etc. is not only very Truthful, but supported by hard evidence, in a court of law. . .

    I encourage The Senior Times reporter Irwin Block, and anyone else who reads this comment (assuming it is not suppressed by The Senior Times. . .), to practice Unitarian Universalism’s Fourth Principle by engaging in a free and responsible search for the Truth and meaning of what I am saying about Montreal Unitarian Sue Mongomery by running some free and responsible search engine searches for appropriate key words found in this comment.

    You can start with a search for – Montreal Unitarian “Sue Montgomery” clergy abuse cover-up

    * UUA = Unitarian Universalist Association

  2. Sue Montgomery has always been one sided Alt left. She was never a journalist . She was a opinion writer . That being said she wrote what she believed. it is just at the time it seemed like she wanted to be thought of as a real news person. She took lots of the Gazette money and burned it for her personal interests. She seems to think she is above everyone else morally. She seems to never take into account anyones feeling but her own and the side she likes. Too bad and shame on her. As for Irwin Block this is the first time i have ever heard of him. I guess they are good friends . My advice is be a journalist not an a** kiss . Even if it’s for the senior times . Integrity is important. Sue and Irwin both seem to lack it.

  3. “She seems to think she is above everyone else morally.”

    A person who threatens to sue someone for libel, when they know perfectly well that the alleged libel is actually very Truthful and supported by hard evidence such as video evidence and documents, is morally and ethically well below the majority of good Canadians in my books. . .

    Just run a search for – Montreal Unitarian “Sue Montgomery” libel – for more info.

  4. Roger Haughey says:

    I ran the search described above, and came upon a website edited and written by Mr. Edgar. As a proud member of the Unitarian Church of Montreal (UCM) community, I am offended by Mr. Edgar’s remarks, as well as his one-man crusade against the UCM, neither of which have any relationship to Ms. Montgomery’s campaign, truth or reality.

    • As a proud member of the Unitarian Church of Montreal (UCM) community, Roger Haughey is as complicit in the Unitarian Universalist clergy abuse, and UUA & UCM cover-up and denial thereof, as Montreal Unitarian Sue Montgomery and ALL other “proud members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal (UCM) community” are. . . Roger Haughey and ALL other Montreal Unitarians have not only willfully ignored my peaceful public protest against U*U clergy abuse and other U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy outside the UCM for years (indeed even decades. . .) but they are wallowing in deep psychological denial of the readily verifiable Truth of what I am protesting against, including the readily verifiable Truth that I am telling about Montréal Unitarian and “retired” Gazette “Justice Reporter” Sue Montgomery, who not only obstinately refused to report on the UUA’s immoral and UNethical, indeed borderline criminal, attempted misuse of Canada’s blasphemy law in UUA clergy abuse cover-up legal bullying that was-is quite evidently intended to conceal “such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape” committed by “certain Unitarian Universalist ministers” from the public, but her knowing and willful participation in the Unitarian “Church” of Montreal’s cynical and outrageously hypocritical misuse and abuse of the Canadian Criminal Code and SPVM police force in efforts to force an end to my very justified and legitimate peaceful public protest against U*U clergy abuse etc.

      Anyone who bothers to responsibly examione the facts can see that what I am saying about Sue Montgomery is not only very Truthful but supported by considerable evidence. I remind readers that Sue Montgomery’s ostensible lawyer Mark Bantey aggressively asserted that Sue “will not hesitate” to sue me for alleged libel in a cease and desist demand letter that I was served with by a Montréal bailiff well over 1000 days ago on December 4th of 2017. I’m still waiting for a VERY hesitant Sue Montgomnery to file papers. . . Sue Montgomery will never act on her empty threat to sue me for alleged “libelous statements” agaisnt her because she knows very well that I am telling the Truth about her, and can easily prove her complicity in Unitrarian Universalist clergy abuse cover-up efforts in a court of law. . . I have repeatedly challenged both Sue Montgomery and Mart Bantey to “bring it” top court in my responses to that demand letter and they have repeatedly balked.

      I have reasonable grounds to believe that there may well be a connection between The Gazette’s “star journalist” being offered a buyout by PostMedia and my protest outside The Gazette 2 months earlier. Videos of my protest are available to be viewed on YouTube. Just search for – Sue Montgomery Gazette protest – in YouTube of Google etc.

  5. My apologies for the typos in my comment. I obviously meant to say December 4th of 2014, not 2017.

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