The former director general of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), Nathalie Bondil, is suing the members of the institution's board of directors for $ 2 million following her controversial dismissal in July.
In a petition filed Friday in Superior Court, Ms. Bondil alleges that the chairman of the board, Michel de la Chenelière, and the 20 other directors “intentionally carried out a campaign of dirtying and destruction of [his] reputation”.
She describes their conduct as “abusive, illegal and faulty”. The ex-director believes that her reputation “built through decades of effort and achievement” was “destroyed” following her dismissal. She is particularly attacking Mr. de la Chenelière, whom she accuses of having ousted her, among other things, because she was opposed to the appointment of Mary-Dailey Desmarais as director of conservation.
Nathalie Bondil was fired for her duties on July 13. In a press release, the MMFA then referred to a “toxic” work climate. The institution claimed that its director general had been unable to resolve the situation and that the allegations of psychological harassment, which did not target Ms. Bondil, persisted.
The next day, our Investigation Office revealed that Ms. Bondil had however been informed by Michel de la Chenelière at the end of June that her mandate would be renewed.
He leaves the presidency
The war between the Director General and the Chairman of the Board has caused much ink to flow in the public arena. Several personalities, including ex-minister Monique Jérôme-Forget as well as André Desmarais and France Chrétien Desmarais, publicly defended Nathalie Bondil.
The Minister of Culture, Nathalie Roy, asked for an external investigation into the working climate at the Museum. Quebec provides $ 16 million in public funds each year to the museum, or 46% of the institution's budget.
As the lawsuit was filed on Friday, the MMFA announced that Mr. de la Chenelière would be stepping down as chairman of the board on September 29. Mr. de la Chenelière had nevertheless expressed the wish that his mandate be renewed.
“I choose to leave the presidency of this museum which I love deeply so as to allow it to truly enter a new era of development,” he said.
The MMFA has chosen businessman and patron Pierre Bourgie to succeed him. Having already served on the board between 2009 and 2018, he will take office after the public meeting of the Board of Directors on September 29.
Mr. Bourgie had publicly supported Michel de la Chenelière in the saga of the dismissal of Nathalie Bondil this summer.