Deschamps calls mayor's coalition a 'mirage'
Applebaum declines Union Montréal's list of demands
Union Montréal's Richard Deschamps is calling the new coalition a "mirage" after his party's demands were declined by the mayor.
On Monday, Deschamps met with Applebaum to go over a list of positions his party wants in the new city administration.
According to Deschamps, the meeting lasted for 10 minutes and had a "cold" atmosphere.
Among its demands, Union Montréal asked for five seats on the executive committee, including the position of chair.
Overview: Union Montréal's demands
- 5 seats on the executive committee including the position of chair
- 5 associate councillors
- 5 chairs and vice-chairs of permanent city commissions
- 5 representatives on the Agglomeration Council
- 3 representatives, including the vice-chair of the STM commission
- 8 representatives on the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM)
Deschamps said that in response to his requests, Michael Applebaum offered Union Montréal a maximum of two positions on the executive committee.
Deschamps called the offer "unacceptable."
He said that with 24 elected representatives, Union Montréal still has the most seats on council and should be represented as such.
The party lost its official majority last week when a wave of councillors left Union Montréal to become independents in support of Michael Applebaum's candidacy for mayor.
Deschamps urged Applebaum to reconsider his offer.
"Our proposal is based on equity, representativity and also on the fact that … we're the most important group on city council and we've got experience and competency," he said.
Deschamps said that if the mayor truly wants to work together with all parties, he must offer fair representation to Union Montréal.
"We won't participate in something which is a mirage," he said.
A spokesperson for the mayor's office responded to Deschamps comments, saying that Applebaum is in a governing mode, not a reacting mode.
Deschamps would not respond to questions about whether his party would consider boycotting Applebaum's coalition.
Mayor cracks down on corruption
Meanwhile, Applebaum has been working with the province and city officials to deal with corruption in the city.
"It's clear that we have to stop the collusion and the corruption," Applebaum told CBC's Daybreak host, Mike Finnerty.
Montreal's executive committee halted the awarding of contracts on Oct. 3 in the wake of testimony from the Charbonneau Commission.
At the time, Applebaum was president of the executive commitee. Now as mayor, he said the city will continue to suspend the awarding of contracts until provincial legislation to crack down on corruption is expanded.
While being sworn in Monday morning, Applebaum said Bill 1 was not sufficient because it applies solely to contracts of more than $50 million — something rare in Montreal.
"There cannot be one person or one group responsible for the construction and awarding of contracts. That's where the big mistake is," Applebaum said.
He asked the Quebec government to investigate the top 100 companies that do business with the city, in order to ensure they comply with the law.
Quebec's minister responsible for the City of Montreal, Jean-François Lisée, said the arguments were "convincing."
Applebaum said he has also asked the city's legal department, the director general and controller to look into how property and assets from those individuals or companies who have stolen from the City could be seized.
"It's a business and in a business you may have certain employees who want to steal … we have to make sure that we have in place the mechanisms to stop this," he said.
Applebaum wants to delay retirement age for white collar workers
Applebaum is also facing negotiatoins with the city's white collar workers.
"If the unions will not sit down with us … we are going to have to ask the provincial government to come in with special legislation in order to force it upon our workers."
Applebaum said he wants to delay the age of retirement eligibility for the workers, which is currently 59. He also said he wants to modify their pension plans.
100-day plan of action
Applebaum said he will name a new executive committee on Thursday, and he'll submit a 100-day plan of action to that new committee.
Among his priorities:
- to submit a new budget, lowering the average property tax hike from 3.3 per cent to 2.2 per cent.
- to seek ways to increase funding for public transit, to minimize fare hikes.
- to increase transparency, by making executive committee meetings public and broadcasting them on the internet.
- to maintain the freeze on the granting of all non-urgent public works projects until their integrity can be guaranteed.