Montreal’s executive committee has appointed finance director Robert Lamontagne to be the city’s new interim city manager.
Mayor Michael Applebaum made the announcement this afternoon at City Hall, where he also commented on former city manager Guy Hébert’s abrupt departure.
"I would like to tell Montrealers that I understand their frustration. I understand that this last crisis at city hall — and yes, I say crisis — does not help to regain confidence in their administration and only fuels their cynicism," Applebaum said.
Guy Hébert, the former city manager, was asked to resign on Monday after it came to light that he had asked to have Montreal police chief Marc Parent removed from his post.
Hébert initially denied he made the request, but it was later confirmed by the province’s public security minister that he had indeed asked for Parent’s removal.
Applebaum met with reporters in the afternoon to address the issue.
"I know that Guy Hébert went too far. I know he should not have done that, and I know that [he] should have spoken to me about it," he said.
"I also know I should have verified the allegations on Hébert even though the story did not seem credible," Applebaum continued.
"As I told you before, the director general of the city does not have any power to impeach or remove the director of police."
Applebaum said Hébert’s severance package is currently being negotiated.
A committee composed of the executive committee’s top brass — its president, two vice-presidents, committee member Richard Deschamps and Applebaum.— will convene to choose the replacement manager.
"The selection committee will recommend, to the executive committee, candidates from within the city’s civil service, and will do so as fast as possible. This decision will have to be approved by a special municipal council meeting," Applebaum said.
Opposition leader Louise Harel of Vision Montreal said she was pleased with the decision to look to Montreal’s civil servants for candidates.
"There are plenty of very talented men and women to take this position," she said.
Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron also commented, saying that there have been drastic changes at City Hall since former mayor Gérald Tremblay’s Nov. 5 resignation.
"We are in a situation where we have to be innovative, and that’s what we’re doing," he said.
The new manager will remain in office until the Nov. 3 election.