Sue Montgomery “is not even trying to avoid him. How can the court determine she had fear of Robin Edgar?” the defence asks.
The lawyer representing a man charged with harassing Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough Mayor Sue Montgomery before and after the most recent municipal election conceded on Wednesday that his client can be annoying, but also argued he never caused her to fear for her safety.
Robert “Robin” Edgar, 59, faces three criminal harassment charges involving incidents that occurred between Oct. 17, 2017, and Aug. 20, 2018, during Montgomery’s election campaign and her work as borough mayor after Nov. 5, 2017. Edgar showed up at debates Montgomery took part in, filmed her and made comments to her during two debates, and later showed up at council meetings to ask rambling questions about her.
As was explained to Quebec Court Judge Flavia Longo during the two-day trial, Edgar’s history with Montgomery dates back at least 18 years. Since 1998, he has held protests outside a Unitarian church in N.D.G. to protest against “clergy abuse.” When members of the church voted to have him removed from the congregation, he asked Montgomery, who attended the same church and was a reporter with the Montreal Gazette at the time, to write about what happened. Montgomery declined to do the story because, she said, Edgar could not provide a coherent reason for his protests. In response, Edgar has, for many years, alleged that Montgomery is part of a coverup of what he is protesting.
Defence lawyer Jordan Trevick said on Wednesday that he could not challenge the basic facts of the case.
“I admit I’d probably be bothered, too, if it happened to me. But is it criminal harassment? No it is not,” Trevick said while adding later, “Whether he is right or wrong, he did not cause her to fear for her safety.
“He might be totally false, but it is still protected under the Charter (of Rights and Freedoms).”
To support his argument, Trevick pointed to an incident that occurred March 18, 2018, when Montgomery showed up for a service on a Sunday and noticed Edgar had put up his usual collection of protest signs and was standing on a sidewalk in front of the place of worship. Montgomery testified she was frustrated at that point and believed Edgar had breached one of the conditions imposed on him when she filed her initial complaint. Edgar recorded her as she knocked down his signs and called the police.
Trevick argued that Montgomery could have chosen to avoid Edgar that day by entering the church by a back entrance.
“She is not even trying to avoid him. How can the court determine she had fear of Mr. Edgar?” Trevick said.
Prosecutor Sarah-Audrey Daigneault countered that any reasonable person would fear for their life, especially when taking into consideration the length of time Edgar has been making his claims.
“He was fixated on her. He was obsessed,” Daigneault said.
“He just had a personal vendetta for her (when he asked his questions at city hall last year).”
The prosector argued that Edgar went beyond his right to free speech and his right to protest and noted that, during the time frame in question, he posted comments about Montgomery on social media on an almost daily basis. At the start of the trial, Montreal police investigator Christopher Audy testified about Edgar’s social media profiles. He noted that, as of Dec. 17, Edgar had sent out more than 243,000 tweets.
“His (Twitter) profile is very voluminous. To give you a comparison, (U.S. President) Donald Trump who is known to tweet a lot, has 41,000 tweets,” Audy said.
Longo said she will deliver her decision on June 13.