MONTREAL — Laurent Blanchard, a city councellor for eight years, has become Montreal’s third mayor – and second interim mayor – in less than a year.
On June 25, he replaced the city’s first-ever Jewish (and also interim) mayor, Michael Applebaum, who resigned one week earlier to face 14 criminal charges of corruption, breach of trust, and conspiracy.
Applebaum is adamantly maintaining his innocence.
Blanchard pledged that the city will continue to function up to the next full municipal election in November.
Last November, after being voted in as interim mayor by city council after Gerald Tremblay resigned, Applebaum appointed Blanchard, 61, as chair of the city’s executive committee, the second most powerful position at city hall and a post Applebaum himself held for 18 months.
But Blanchard, after winning the mayoralty by a razor-thin margin in a city council vote, pledged to step down as chair of that committee to avoid any appearance of wielding too much power.
Before Applebaum’s June 17 arrest by the anti-corruption UPAC (Unité permanente anticorruption) police, he served as a city councillor for 19 years. For the last 10 of those years he was mayor of the Montreal borough of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dâme-de-Grace.
When elected mayor, he had already pledged not to run for that position again in the coming municipal election.
Arrested on the same day as Applebaum was former city councillor Saulie Zajdel, who is facing five charges, including fraud, corruption, and breach of trust.
Zajdel, first elected during the tenure of Mayor Pierre Bourque, served for 23 years in municipal politics and was the Tory candidate in the 2011 federal election. He came closer than anyone previously in his bid to unseat Liberal incumbent Irwin Cotler in Mount Royal riding.
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