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Montague denies provoking mayor

An allegation that Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst was provoked into uttering a threat to Coun. Stephen Montague after she was targeted with a derogatory remark from Montague has been flatly denied by the Richmond ward representative.

"Absolutely not," Montague said. "The audio (recording from the council meeting) speaks for itself. It’s not there and I would absolutely not say that."

The Brandon Sun has chosen in the interest of good taste not to print the alleged comment.

"At minimum, this is a malicious allegation. That’s ridiculous that would try to be blamed as the reason," Montague said. "To come out after the fact, that might simply to be making excuses for what I deem to be inappropriate behaviour."

Following Monday’s city council meeting, where Decter Hirst reminded Montague of the protocol to direct his comments and questions to a podium speaker through her, she charged to his chair.

"Stephen, if you ever show disregard with that microphone on again, I will slap you on the back of the head so hard your head will spin," Decter Hirst said angrily.

Decter Hirst was asked on Wednesday in her city hall office to respond to the comments she made and the allegation against Montague. She declined comment, stating it was a personal matter.

Other sources told the Brandon Sun they never heard Montague say the alleged comment at that meeting.

"I didn’t hear that," said Coun. Jeff Harwood (University), whose chair is directly beside Montague’s at the council table. "Certainly that came as an absolute shock at the end of that meeting. Just all of a sudden, bang. As for the comment allegedly uttered to Her Worship, I have no knowledge of that at all."

Harwood said when Decter Hirst approached Montague and began the altercation, the situation was tense.

"I just got my stuff together and made some space," Harwood said. "If the word was uttered, I certainly didn’t hear it and I had a front-row seat."

Harwood said the situation has complicated relationships on the 11-member city council and that the issue will need to be addressed if the business of council is to move forward in an orderly manner.

"Whatever is happening, they have to iron this out because it’s going to be hard if they don’t," he said. "The two of them just have to sit down and iron out how they are going to get along, co-exist, whatever you want to call it, for the next two years. We all have to work as a unit and it’s tough on all of us. This is a distraction we don’t need."

Harwood said it’s well known that Montague and Decter Hirst do not get along, but in his 12 years on city council, he has never seen a situation where one member of council threatened another inside the council chamber. He added there needs to be decorum and "a huge measure of civility inside that chamber," for the sake of city council.

"There has been verbal sparring between a mayor and some councils," Harwood said. "You hear that, but never this kind of an altercation. Not at all. Monday night’s display, I’ve never witnessed that. Ever. I would hope that common sense and some decorum will prevail after this because it was really awkward when that happened, for those of us that were close by. It was terribly awkward."

Since the exchange, Montague has publicly apologized for his protocol breach, both through comments to the Brandon Sun and the CBC Manitoba noon hour radio show.

"If I did make a procedural mistake, I have apologized for that," Montague said. "We all make mistakes and I’ll own up to the fact I did not go through the chair on my followup question. We are human. I’ve owned up to mine and offered my apology to Her Worship for that faux pas as well as to the residents. I have yet to hear anything back."

He called on Decter Hirst to make her own apology in public, but said he didn’t expect to get one.

"I’d be surprised if I did, but a face-to-face apology would be preferred," Montague said. "The incident happened in the chamber, so it could happen there. We meet quite regularly. The comments were to me, and the saddest part to me in all of this is the citizens of Brandon that elected us to work on their behalf had to witness that.

"Civic leaders speaking in those tones and in those words, that’s not professional. It’s not leadership and it’s quite unfortunate that was the avenue that was taken."

» kborkowsky@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 8, 2012

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Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 2 Commentscomment icon

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I believe that Stephen Montague needs to apologize DIRECTLY to Mayor Shari Decter Hirst for his OWN comments, in the council chamber, if there were any, and for his breach of protocol, as well.

I think that it is a pretty clear fact that Stephen wants to be sitting in Shari's chair in two years.

I think that Mr. Montague needs to learn some self-discipline, some self-control, some decorum and some RESPECT, however.

I think that Shari's doing a GREAT JOB as Mayor of Brandon and I am SO HAPPY and proud that she is our Mayor.

I understand Stephen's impatience and his enthusiasm but he needs to learn to play by the rules as well and showing DISRESPECT and DISHONOR to Mayor Shari is NOT going to win him more votes in two years.

Smarten up, Stephen!

You should know better than that.

Mayor Shari was reacting as ANY mother would when her own child gets out of hand.

Perhaps IF Mr. Montague would STOP acting as a child himself and stop provoking Mayor Shari, this incident may have never occurred in the first place.

IF you act like an adult, you get treated like an adult.

Mayor Shari was just being human, as we all are.

I think that Councillor Stephen Montague should be DISCIPLINED for his very own inappropriate actions in the first place towards our Mayor.

Stephen, it's called R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Please try to learn what this means.

Perhaps the Brandon Sun should interview YOUR OWN mother and see IF YOU listened to her within your past as well.

Smarten up, Stephen!

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An allegation that Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst was provoked into uttering a threat to Coun. Stephen Montague after she was targeted with a derogatory remark from Montague has been flatly denied by the Richmond ward representative.

"Absolutely not," Montague said. "The audio (recording from the council meeting) speaks for itself. It’s not there and I would absolutely not say that."

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An allegation that Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst was provoked into uttering a threat to Coun. Stephen Montague after she was targeted with a derogatory remark from Montague has been flatly denied by the Richmond ward representative.

"Absolutely not," Montague said. "The audio (recording from the council meeting) speaks for itself. It’s not there and I would absolutely not say that."

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