MONTREAL – Michael Applebaum was declared the 42nd mayor of Montreal Monday morning, pledging to bring together a revamped city council that will tackle corruption, work openly and shed its history of political divisiveness.
The first 100 days of his mayoral career would be dedicated to a “renewal” of the city, he said.
“I will do everything to regain from you that which was stolen,” through corruption in the construction industry, he said. “I will do everything to regain your confidence and give you back your city.”
In a formal ceremony attended by numerous family, friends and politicans at City Hall, Applebaum reiterated promises made during the tight race for the position last week that he would build bridges between the city’s divided political parties, with an open executive committee comprised of members of each party.
The makeup of the committee, once comprised solely of Union Montreal members, will be announced on Thursday.
Executive committee meetings, long held in private, will be open to the public and broadcast via the Internet, he said.
Vision Montreal leader Louise Harel confirmed that the proposed new chairman of the executive committee was Laurent Blanchard, Vision Montreal councilor for Hochelaga.
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A task force overseeing corruption comprised of members of all parties along with other representatives will be created in conjunction with the government of Quebec to determine the best ways to avoid collusion among contractors that witnesses at the Charbonneau Commission have testified was endemic in the city.
The city is also examining ways to sue guilty parties for money or reclaim property in order to recoup some of the losses that arose from inflated bids and payoffs, Applebaum said.
Applebaum reiterated promises to reduce a proposed average property tax hike of 3.3 per cent by removing a 1.1 per cent water levy, and to provide more funding for public transit to reduce planned fare increases.
His first priority as mayor was to table the city’s $4.9 million budget.
Applebaum, who left the Union Montreal party after being passed over as their candidate for the mayoralty, was elected in a secret vote among Montreal’s 63 city councilors over his former Union Montreal colleague Richard Deschamps on Friday in a vote of 31-29 with three spoiled ballots.
Former Mayor Gérald Tremblay was forced to resign after allegations of illegal campaign donations to his party and corrupt bureaucrats came forth in the Charbonneau Commission.
Applebaum noted that he first entered municipal politics in 1994 over the issue of closing of hockey rinks in his borough.
He promised to continue to be ruled by the needs of his constituents, bearing in mind that it is the cultural centres and arenas and sport complexes that are important to residents.
First anglo mayor in 102 years
The first anglophone mayor elected in 102 years in Montreal, and the first Jew ever elected, Applebaum switched into English in his speech to thank his family for their support, and in particular his father for his example of compassion, helping others and hard work, as well as his wife of 28 years, “the love of my life.” Then he posed for pictures with numerous family members and staffers.
Vision Montreal’s Harel and Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron offered their support for Applebaum’s mayoraly, praising his promise to hold a more collaborative city council less bound by party partisanship.
Deschamps of Union Montreal said he was still debating Applebaum’s offer of a seat on the executive committee, made last week during negotiations with the three parties in his seeking of votes.
Deschamps noted that he expected to see a proportional member of Union Montreal members on the committee.
Applebaum has said member of the executive committee must promise not to run for mayor next year, to preclude personal motivations from hampering municipal affairs.
He has also promised not to run for mayor of Montreal when general elections are called next November. He will run again to regain his position as mayor of Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace.