Applebaum calls for coalition at Montreal City Hall
Deschamps says Montreal is not ready for a coalition
The former chair of Montreal's executive committee, Michael Applebaum, said he is urging other party leaders to consider forming a coalition to run the city until the November 2013 election.
Applebaum said he is considering running for the job of interim mayor as an independent councillor.
He said he would be the best suited to head a coalition, as he was in charge of the executive committee before stepping down last week.
He said he met with the leader of Vision Montréal, Louise Harel, and leader of Projet Montréal, Richard Bergeron, over the weekend to discuss his proposal.
He said his calls and texts to Union Montréal's candidate for interim mayor Richard Deschamps have not been returned.
"I'm in serious reflection [over] Union Montréal and my political future in that party," Applebaum told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
He warned that if Deschamps does not sit down with him to discuss the idea of an Applebaum-led coalition, Union Montreal could go from being the party in power to being excluded from a coalition executive committee.
Applebaum said an executive committee with members of all parties would make it easier for the municipal government parties to agree on decisions.
"The person would have to build concensus around the table, and that concensus would then be seen at city council where you would have all parties supporting and defending decisions that are made by the executive committee," he said.He said he did not want to run for mayor in the upcoming general election.
Applebaum stressed the importance of limiting the interim mayor's role.
"I stated very clearly that the interim mayor for 2013 and that that person should not be running for mayor of Montreal in 2013," he said.
Harel told reporters Tuesday she thought Applebaum's proposal for a coalition executive committee is interesting.
She added that Vision Montréal may still introduce its own candidate in the race for the role of interim mayor.
Deschamps said he met with Harel and Bergeron to discuss their plans for Montreal's future.
"I'm a man of concensus. I'm a man that looks for collaboration, and I'm looking for common ground," said Deschamps.
A reporter asked him if he would consider a coalition, to which Deschamps replied, "I don't think we're there yet."
He said he told Harel he would consider the proposal but would consult with his caucus before giving a formal answer.
He said he believed his caucus stood in solidarity and did not believe Union Montréal was falling apart despite the departure of one borough councillor — and Applebaum's musings.
"I think someone's decision to take a different route, while remaining in the caucus is paradoxical," said Deschamps. "I'm not a master of people's choices. All I can say is that the majority of people are still members of Union Montréal, and we have an important choice to make Friday."
Applebaum criticized by former colleagues
Applebaum resigned as chair of the city's executive committee on Nov. 9, citing a dispute with other members over whether to release an internal working document that had been suppressed by the committee.
City councillor and the executive committee's vice-chair, Alan DeSousa, says he never saw the report, despite sitting on the committee since 2001.
"To claim that we wanted to hold back the reports is silly," he said, adding that attempts to suppress the report would have been pointless, considering that the public would have had access to it anyway within a few days.
Richard Deschamps was chosen over Applebaum as Union Montréal's candidate for the interim mayoralty Nov. 8, three days after Gérald Tremblay's resignation.
"I will take a look at what is the best for the population that I serve," said Applebaum, who remains councillor for the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.
A spokesperson for opposition party Vision Montréal said they would also support an independent interim mayor. The party is meeting today to discuss who its members will support as a candidate.
Applebaum making a 'naked grab for power,' says DeSousa
DeSousa said that Applebaum's proposed coalition would have no "central values" and would risk further instability in the city.
He accuses Applebaum of being power-hungry.
"We see that while he was unable to secure the nomination of his own party on the first round … he's ready to cut a deal with just about anybody who would support him for one simple reason: to be the mayor of Montreal," DeSousa said.
He said that Applebaum's stated reasons for resigning from the executive commitee were "smokescreens," covering for his desire to run for mayor.
"In my opinion, it's a naked grab for power — high risk, high stakes roll of the dice," DeSousa said.
Applebaum replied to the criticism, saying his loyalty did not lie within a party but with Montrealers.
Starting today, members of city council will have three days to deliver a letter of intention announcing their candidacy for interim mayor.
The interim mayor, who will sit until the municipal election scheduled for next November, will be chosen on Friday.