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Battle heats up between activist and city
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 23 février 2012

Photo: Marie Cicchini

Murray Levine also regularly attends CDN-NDG council meetings, like this one on March 7, 2011

Murray Levine, founder of the Philanthropic Athletes Foundation, served Montreal with legal notice on Jan. 24 demanding $1000 compensation for expenses, alleging that he wasn’t permitted to ask a question at the Jan. 23 city council meeting.

Levine said that he is being denied his legal right to ask a question at city council because he has embarrassed Mayor Tremblay for not getting behind his efforts to promote charitable fund-raising through sporting events such as the Tour de l’Île. “If I am not in receipt of $1000 within 10 days, I am going to sue the city in small claims court,” he said.

In what is shaping up to be a pitched battle between the sports fund-raising activist and city officials, council president Harout Chitilian denied Levine permission to speak because of insulting remarks that he had made at the previous council session on Dec. 20, according to Grégory Kunz, principal assistant to Chitilian.

At that time Levine was informed that he would have to write a letter retracting his remarks or forfeit the opportunity to address council at subsequent meetings. Chitilian reiterated his position on
Jan. 23 and later sent Levine a letter to this effect on Feb. 7.

At the heart of the controversy is a long-simmering dispute between Levine and council majority leader Marvin Rotrand. The activist insists that Rotrand didn’t follow through on his promise to contact the presidents of the New York City Marathon and Bike New York to enquire about the charitable benefits component of sporting events sponsored by a host city.

Rotrand maintains that he did write a letter on Levine’s behalf and thinks that his ideas have merit. So, he is hard-pressed to understand why this activist continues to berate him for not doing anything. “Murray Levine is someone who just won’t take yes for an answer,” he quipped.

Rotrand isn’t the only city councillor to have had run-ins with him. Chitilian’s decision was a response to a complaint from Mary Deros, member of the executive committee responsible for cultural communities and youth. He ruled against Levine because the latter purportedly called her a “bunch of crap.” Levine acknowledged that he said “kiss mine” – an expression with a vulgar connotation – at a council meeting.

Deros has a few words of her own to describe Levine’s behaviour: abusive and aggressive. She said that Levine is a bully who mocks and threatens to get his way and that this is no way to build support for a cause.

She said that he has harassed her friends by systematically writing to them with negative comments. “His intentions are fine, but what he does is totally unacceptable. Especially today, when we are hearing so much about bullying, something has to be done to stop him.”

Levine said that CDN-NDG borough mayor Michael Applebaum might take measures to prevent him from asking a question at borough meetings in the future because he isn’t a resident of the area.

He said that Chitilian’s decision to prohibit him from asking a question at city council was arbitrary and that any further attempts to ban him from addressing city or borough officials would be undemocratic.

[ Deborah Rankin ]

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