Montreal mayor calls to strip Charles Dutoit of local honours

Montreal mayor calls to strip Charles Dutoit of local honours


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2018

The mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, has asked for the Order of Montreal to be removed from the conductor Charles Dutoit, following accusations of sexual misconduct.

‘I do not believe that a person with such a heavy baggage of allegations should hold this honour,’ she said.

The Order of Montreal was created in 2016 for the city’s 375th anniversary. Dutoit was among the first to be awarded it, alongside his fellow-conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.



  • Rgiarola says:

    Dear mayor, no one than politicians in general more heavy baggage of bad allegations, however I don’t see such hurry of punishement just after allegations. Even after a prove fact, they are still untouchables including in Canada.

    • Emil says:

      Ha, funny you’d defend sexual harassment in that way the week after the Ontario Conservative party fired its leader 2 months before the election for that precise reason.

      • Rgiarola says:

        Perhaps the funny point is your way to choose words. There is a huge difference between “Fired” and “Resigned”. If you are talking about Patrick Brown, he was not fired at all. He decided by himself to resigned along his campaign team (Not party), although he denies the allegations. It was not a punishement inflicted to Mr. Brown by others.

        Another funny thing is the allegation that I’m “defending” sexual harassment. I was just commenting about politician hypocrisy in general. If I do not agree with burning witches in the public square without proper investigation and judgment, it does not mean that I’m pro sexual harassment. It’s just mean I’m civilized, and not living in the medieval times.

  • ARGuirestante says:

    Always astonished by comments that depreciate allegations. We were not there. So, it seems to be apropriate to respect the victims, it’s the least we can do. An who knows if there were not more misconducts from the maestro. Only the tip of the iceberg? In so many cities, from so many women, it can not be only rumors. I am no longer comfortable to associate the name of my city with Dutoit’s; no need to enhance furtherly this legacy, even if he put the orchestra on world’s musical map.

    • Rgiarola says:

      That’s a good comment Arguire.

      However, what is the edge between depreciate and overestimate? Considering the very same reason mentioned by you as “We were not there”, we also cannot believe that a denouncer always says the holy true and without any exaggeration. They lie even under oath everyday in courts as we all know. That’s the reason any modern legal system just does not only rely on witness as the ultimate prove. Conclusion needs more and deep investigation, and denouncements should be only the start up and not the end of this process.

      I think defend or punishing someone just after witness allegations equally wrong.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    He must have been found guilty in a court of law for the mayor to arrive at this decision. What? Eh? Oh.

    • V.Lind says:

      Yup. NOTHING has been proven, yet a man is to be stripped of his honours based on allegations?

      It’s one thing to remove a much-accused person from post because of the discomfort of the relationships in an organisation — should there be reason enough to believe the allegations.

      But to start removing other honours, where personal relations hardly came into play, I think there ought to be evidence.

      Is Jeffrey Archer not still Lord Archer? Conrad Black not still Lord Black? And both of them have been convicted and served terms of incarceration.

      Dutoit may be a bad dude, but I am getting a little wary of there being one crime on the books where the terms are guilty until proven innocent.

      • Novagerio says:

        Funny you mention it. The old SS-trumpet-player Helmut Wobicsh from the Vienna Philharmonic kept all his honours (received through the Baldur von Schirach Days of the Anschluss) althrough his life (and he died in 1980 having served as the great orchestras chief executive between 1954 and 1968)…
        Meanwhile, people are being grilled on the basis of “bad allegations” only…

    • Emil says:

      Yes, because there is absolutely no nuance between being honoured as a “great Montrealer” and being a convicted criminal. There is absolutely no room in between.

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    From their website: “The Ordre de Montréal recognizes women and men who have contributed in a remarkable way to the city’s development and reputation.”

    DuToit did just that. The recordings from his era sound great (e.g., the Respighi album).
    He put the orchestra on the map. This honor says nothing about character or anything else, as far as I can see.

  • Christophe Huss says:

    Sorry, but, again, the headline is wrong.

    The mayor asks the commitee to think in general about “What do you recommend in such cases ? Should the Order be removed ? What is the line and what would be the criterias of removal ? ”

    Yes, she says that she is very inconfortable with this particular case and personnally in favor of a removal. But she does not order anything or decide anything at all. She asks for a global reflexion.

    Sounds logical and may be the answer of the commitee will be the same as Mr Henriksen suggest. Who knows ?

    Hope it brings a different light on the subject.

  • msc says:

    A city does not need to maintain a list of individuals of whom it particularly approves. Such things as the “Order of Montreal” and the Order of Canada are mostly exercises in onanism conducted by the city and country’s elite. The government giveth, it can taketh away.

  • harold braun says:

    What an idiot….

  • Lady Weidenfeld says:

    Where is the basic notion applicable in any civilised society that presumes innocence until guilt is proved? Punishment, and in this case a man’s professional life, is ruined from one day to the next, by organisations who have had long and successful relationships with Charles Dutoit. Montreal, proud of their citizen, deemed him worthy of honour. All, without question, are acting on allegations. We none of us know what happened but we most of us know how women can throw themselves at artists backstage after concerts, that visiting a man who likes women in his hotel room is perhaps not the best idea if you don’t know how to cope with a pass! I am not accusing anyone of making false accusations as I have no idea what happens between two people alone in a room but I think we are entering an age where prominent, powerful, successful, famous, attractive men should be accompanied by CCTV at all times and vulnerable women should also have portable videos for use when anxious or likely to become so. Classrooms should all be equipped as well, to protect both professor and student at any given moment. Perhaps this kind of monitoring could be an iPhone App? Remember the days when we could travel through airports with no security checks? We now desperately need protection against both sexual predators and unproven allegations.

    • harold braun says:

      Bravo,Lady Weidenfeld.That´s exactly how it is.

    • Hilary says:

      ” I am not accusing anyone of making false accusations ”
      In one instance, a false accusation does seem pretty certain as the onlooker made an extensive comment on this website.
      Each has to be taken on its own terms.
      No two will have a same dynamic, and certainly not all will fall into the scenario you describe of women throwing themselves at artists backstage after concerts.

      • Lady Weidenfeld says:

        There is every possible scenario, and of course each case should be looked at on its own terms—that is precisely my pointt. However every complainant is mmediately a victim, mostly unnamed and sometimes decades after an alleged offence took place, and every alleged offender is immediately named, convicted and ruined. How can this be acceptable?

        • Hilary says:

          Hard to argue with that, though due to the lack of witnesses in many cases (the Jenny Chai/Dutiot case is unusual in this respect) it would be impossible to test the veracity of of these situations :two people alone in an elevator etc

  • Lady Weidenfeld says:

    I rest my case. Something which is unverifiable should not result in automatic criminalisation and severe life-changing punishment for the alleged perpetrator.. McCarthyism here we come!

    • Saxon Broken says:

      So Charles Dutoit can do what he likes around women so long as there are no witnesses. Is that your claim?

      Innocent until proven guilty is a concept in criminal law, and it really is not relevant in a contract between an orchestra and a conductor. Moreover, a city can bestow or withdraw honours from whomsoever it likes and on whatever grounds it likes. If Montreal decides Dutoit is not the sort of person they want to honour then they really can make that decision, and his innocence (of sexual assault) or otherwise is irrelevant.

      • Lady Weidenfeld says:

        So, Saxon Broken, please be very careful never to be alone with a woman who is not your wife or daughter in a room or lift or even a corridor, without a camcorder and microphone running because if, God forbid, you are accused of rape or sexual harassment you will lose your job, your livelihood your reputation the many honours bestowed upon you, you will just cease to exist and none of us will care. All our sympathies will naturally be with your alleged victim.

  • Una says:

    I hate these trials by social media.