MICHAEL APPLEBAUM VS THE PEOPLE
MONTREAL—Clutching a damning report he says his party voted to hide from the public earlier this week, a frustrated Michael Applebaum tendered his resignation as the city's No. 2 on Friday afternoon.
Departing as chair of the city's powerful executive committee, Applebaum took a dramatic parting shot at his colleagues. According to Applebaum, the Union Montreal cabinet voted on Wednesday to conceal a 2004 report which indicated that Montreal overpaid for construction contacts by 30 to 40 per cent.
"It's completely unacceptable," said Applebaum. "I work for Montrealers. I can no longer work for this executive committee."
Telling reporters that he fought his colleagues to have the report released, Applebaum said the committee voted to avoid further embarrassment after weeks of condemning allegations from the province's anti-corruption inquiry.
The report could be made public after the end of question period at Monday's city council meeting—depriving the opposition of the document until after a crucial step in the process to appoint a new mayor.
According to Applebaum, he and Tremblay were made aware of the report's existence on Oct. 29.
Staying on as mayor of the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough, senior members of Union Montreal confirmed with CTV Montreal's Rob Lurie that Applebaum would be resigning out of anger at being snubbed as the party's choice for interim mayor.
On Thursday afternoon, the Union Montreal caucus selected executive committee member Richard Deschamps to serve out the final year of disgraced Mayor Gerald Tremblay's term. An angry Applebaum left that meeting threatening to quit.
"He may feel hurt, but by holding up a report that no member of the executive committee was aware of, he is manipulating the facts to his advantage," Deschamps responded on Friday evening, calling Applebaum's behaviour questionable.
On Friday, Applebaum responded by saying that his reasons for leaving were "more serious."
Citing deep differences with the remainder of the executive committee, Applebaum repeated his disappointment at the rest of the cabinet pushing through a 3.3 per cent tax increase, despite the allegations of improper municipal spending raised by the Charbonneau Commission.
"The budget is no longer responsible for taxpayers who feel as though they have been robbed," said an unusually combative Applebaum, who had served as Tremblay's main lieutenant.
The former chair favoured an increase of 2.2 per cent in property taxes—roughly the same rate as inflation. Deschamps, who is expected to be sworn in as mayor after a vote by city council next Friday, had supported maintaining the full increase.
Last weekend, preliminary budget negotiations between Union and the city's two opposition parties broke down after opposition leader Louise Harel said that then-mayor Tremblay was improvising.
While Deschamps responded to Applebaum's allegations, a number of Union Montreal lieutenants standing around their new leader looked uncomfortable, standing stoically or shifting from foot to foot.
When asked about a number of missing committee members, Deschamps said all were invited.