Coun. Stephen Montague confirmed he has agreed to meet with Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst to work out differences that came to a head at Monday’s city council meeting.
He said on Friday that she had not issued an apology to him, but had sent an email to him requesting a meeting.
“We’ve talked (through email) and we will be continuing to talk,” Montague said. “I hope that we are working towards a resolution. I am going into any further discussion with optimism that while we may not end up being best friends, at least we will maintain a respectful work relationship.”
At the end of that council meeting, Decter Hirst uttered a threat to Montague. While there was a protocol breach during the meeting where Montague failed to direct his comments to another speaker through the mayor, there was an unverifiable accusation of an unparliamentary word directed at Decter Hirst.
“I have accepted my responsibility for my mistake at the meeting,” Montague said. “I have apologized. I’m hoping for the same from her. Let’s put this issue behind us and move forward.”
Conflict resolution expert Alan Levy said a meeting between the two is a key first step to putting the issue behind them.
“The standard thing to do in any kind of personality dispute is for the parties to sit down and try to have a discussion about what occurred and how they can avoid it in the future and maybe they need a mediator or facilitator to assist them and talk about how they can commit to one another to work more amicably in the future,” Levy said when reached by phone in a northern Ontario airport. “If they don’t deal with it, it will only get worse. Both of them will harbour bad feelings towards one another and that’s not very productive.”
Decter Hirst sent an email on Friday to the Brandon Sun to address the incident.
“I have been consistent in dealing with this as a matter between myself and Coun. Montague,” she wrote. “He and I are committed towards putting this very unfortunate and regrettable incident behind us and working together on improving the decorum in the council chamber.”