In 2001 Sophie worked for the City of Cote-St-Luc, which later merged with the City of Montreal. Sophie spent over 15 years working at Building Inspection, she later transferred to the Engineering department.
Once at the Engineering department, Sophie found discrepancies with the SPCA Montreal billing. They would claim X dogs were found as strays, when in reality the number was lower. Public Security had a log of every stray dog, when the SPCA bills did not match the logs made by Public Security, Pierre Barnoti the Director of the SPCA was called in.
Mr Barnoti claimed it was a billing error and corrected it. Sophie, being overwhelmed by the amount of work due to the merge, was put on sick leave by her doctor which led to her being fired in 2003 by Robert Abdallah who was the Director of Public Works at the main City of Montreal offices.
Sophie had questioned many other irregularities within public tenders. Tenders were accepted at say 400,000$ but the final project would be over a million. Her bosses explained it was normal due to unforeseen expenses throughout the construction, and/or changes in materials which would cause the prices to change. Since the Charbonneau Commision, those irregularities are now known as “extras”.
Montreal refused to hire temporary employees to help Sophie out. The City later hired temporary employees to replace her position so that she could work on sorting out the mess of the other two municipalities.
The court records show that the City of Montreal disliked Sophie, they didn’t like the pictures of her dog Max on her desk. The City wanted her out of the Engineering department, Sophie asked to be transferred as she was unable to return to work in that department, mainly because of the extra work the merge brought on since Cote-St-Luc inherited two other municipalities to form the new borough of Montreal, Hampstead/Cote St-Luc/Montreal West (referred to as Cote St-Hamp West), but such transfer was refused categorically.
Sophie and her union (SCFP) fought hard but lost the case, the mediator ruled that since Sophie had started Sophie’s Dog Adoption, she had the ability to work and that the amount of stray or abandoned dogs did not overwhelm her ability to work in stressful situations.
In 2006 the City of Montreal started targeting Sophie’s Dog Adoption. That’s when the SPCA got involved. The first case was regarding dog tags, Mr Fortin (K-9 Inspector) kept visiting Sophie’s residence to count dogs, count tags, etc…
The SPCA under the Barnoti administration, helped Sophie fight the tickets in Court. Since the SPCA did not provide dog tags to foster homes, why should Sophie. Majority of the dogs within Sophie’s rescue where at the time SPCA dogs that were to be euthanized. The Municipal Judge agreed, but had to rule in favour of the City. The by-law made no exceptions, however the Judge told the City it had no right to go fishing. The SPCA told Sophie it would cost too much to fight to change the by-law.
Mr Barnoti had warned Sophie about Mr Fortin, and told her to be careful as the City also had an invalid and illegal right to seize, kill and ask questions later. Mr Fortin had already done so in the past.
The City kept fishing without a permit, claiming it had the right to inspect the residence without a warrant. Sophie would refuse access unless the police escorted the City. The City and Sophie played that game for a few years, the City would issue tickets for having too many dogs and no tags for the excess.
In 2008 the City issued Rick, Sophie’s son, a ticket for refusing access to the City without the police presence. The SPCA now had a new administration, so Me Devine (Alana’s father) represented Rick in Court but also lost. The Municipal Judge ignored both Canadian and Quebec Charters claiming the by-law allowed warrantless entry, so the ticket held. Rick never paid the ticket, waiting to be jailed for it. The City dropped the ticket in fear of the media.
CTV’s on your side had already covered parts of the story, interviewing the City and the SPCA.
In 2009 the City wanted Sophie’s Dog Adoption to apply for an occupancy permit so that she could run a Charity out of her residence. The occupancy permit would allow such warrantless entry into a residence, Sophie refused.
In 2010 the City got a police report that Tyson, a Pitbull under Sophie’s care, had bit another dog. The City (Public Works) then issued a 48 hour euthanasia order for this dog. It was now time for Sophie to fight back. Sophie took the City of Montreal to Superior Court and won. The by-law that allowed warrantless searches or seizures was invalidated and the euthanasia order dropped.
Sophie never heard from the City again, until 2012. Mr Trahan got a call from the Berger Blanc about Sophie. Sophie was reuniting strays with their owners at no charge, refusing to surrender any stray dog to the Berger Blanc, Berger Blanc claimed Sophie had to surrender all stray dogs to the them, Sophie showed the Berger Blanc their own contract, asking “where is my name, where does it say that”?
Mr Trahan (K-9 Inspector) came knocking at Sophie’s door, Sophie was now in a commercial establishment to avoid the municipal by-law that limited animals under a residential roof, she could now have up to seven dogs without a kennel permit, the same as a vet. Access to the local was refused, Mr Trahan left.
The City claims Mr Trahan never came knocking at Sophie’s door, despite Sophie having security video of Mr Trahan arriving in his SMART car and taking pictures of the front window. Sophie laid criminal charges on Mr Trahan, the police investigators claimed one visit was not enough, nor was Sophie the public. The argument was that Mr Trahan was preventing the enjoyment and comfort of the public by demanding access without warrants. It takes three to form the public, since Sophie was the only complainant, there was no public concerns.
The City refused to issue Sophie an occupancy permit, claiming that the zonage was residential for the top floors and the bottom floors had to be commercial only. Sophie had rented a local that was both zoned residential and commercial. The City argued only an “artist” could live in his commercial local. Sophie requested a written refusal to take the issue in Court, the City refused. It never ticketed Sophie for not having an occupancy permit. Sophie put a sign on the door, “members only” that way she didn’t need an occupancy permit, the public never entered, it was reserved for members only. An occupancy permit is to protect the public.
The City filed a complaint with the OQLF (the language police), Sophie had both French and English signs, but the OQLF started nitpicking. The OQLF claimed the English sign had to be smaller by X and Y dimensions, despite the law claiming the French had to be more visible, in which case it was, but that wasn’t good enough for the OQLF.
Sophie argued that a Charity had the right to post signs in English only, she had a philanthropic mission, and their own bill 101 allowed humanitarian messages to be in any language. The OQLF told Global news it was up to Sophie to prove the law didn’t apply to a Charity.
In order for Revenue Canada to accept a Charity, it must have a philanthropic mission. So that is the proof, we are playing with words here.
Sophie decided to play along with the City, requesting an occupancy permit, without costs, since she was a Charity. The City argued a Charity was not a non-profit organisation (OSBL), it could make profits.
Since the City claimed Sophie could not live there, she told the City that she was moving, keeping the commercial local for the Charity. The occupancy permit was refused because Sophie refused to pay for it as it is free for non-profit corporations (OSBL).
Sophie had plans to take this to Court, but the Wicca case came first. Sophie gave up the fight for the commercial local since the basement had water infiltrations rendering over 500 square feet useless…
The landlord of this commercial local turned it into a “residential” loft for Sophie, he did the work without permits, he knew the City would refuse the changes. The City never did bother him for that.
Sophie moved out after the Rumby case started. On the day of the move Mr Trahan came to visit, asking where Sophie was moving to. Rick told him “that’s for us to know and for you to find out”…