By Joel Ceausu
Marvin Rotrand wants city hall to lighten up and loosen up on neckties in the city’s unwritten dress code.
The Snowdon councillor along with Councillor Lorraine Pagé has requested city hall speaker Frantz Benjamin review the rules. “Following the expulsion of Alex Norris from the Oct. 27 city council meeting, we urge the Commission de la présidence du conseil to consider reviewing the unwritten traditions that manage decorum for male councillors because our current regulations are silent on the issue.”
Norris was ejected for showing up at council in a t-shirt, sweatpants and running shoes, his hand in a cast, claiming his injuries rendered it too difficult to tie a tie or button a shirt. Rotrand asked for exceptions based on medical issues, but also notes that the rule for men to wear a jacket and tie is based on tradition, and Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg do not have a similar dress code “and all goes well.”
“The rules evolve” he says, adding “until 1974 women councillors had to wear a dress or skirt until they refused to comply with the obsolete rule.” He also notes the agglomeration council has no such rules, so that politicians can sit in a meeting that requires a tie and a few hours later in the same room with no such requirement.
Rotrand says it important to adjust the rules in light of “changes in our society in the context of the arrival to city council of members of various cultural communities with different traditions and we are concerned about being perceived as having an outdated dress code, from a homogeneous culture.”
Norris protested the archaic rule for years, including at a 2010 meeting when Rotrand himself castigated him for not complying with the rules of decorum.
Norris says Benjamin is fixated on the issue, and told French media that it’s simply an attempt by the Coderre administration to distract council and Montrealers from an unpopular borough financing reform scheme.
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