Union Montréal loses majority, considers coalition
Interim mayor vote happening Friday
Leaders of Montreal's municipal parties are considering a major shakeup in the way the city is run by supporting the idea of a coalition executive committee.
Richard Deschamps, the Union Montréal candidate for interim mayor, said his party is in favour of a coalition executive committee at city hall.
Deschamps said that, as it stands, he will maintain his candidacy for the spot of interim mayor but added that things could change if the mayor has to present himself as an independent.
"We are for the principle of a coalition but still have to determine the modalities that we will have to apply if need be," said Deschamps.
Union Montréal has now lost its majority at city hall as six councillors quit the party today including former executive committee chairman Michael Applebaum.
Councillors who left Union Montréal
Frank Venneri – Saint-Michel
Alain Tassé – Verdun
Frantz Benjamin – Saint-Michel
Lionel Perez – Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Susan Clarke – Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Michael Applebaum – Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Deschamps told reporters the remaining members of Union Montréal continue to support him as leader.
He said he would be discussing with other parties to see how a coalition would work, but with his party no longer holding a majority in council, Deschamps' chances to be elected are likely reduced.
All but one of the councillors who left Union Montréal said that they will back Applebaum for interim mayor.
Union Montréal is the party of former mayor Gérald Tremblay, who stepped down last week.
Vision Montréal leader Louise Harel said her party would be meeting Thursday and is considering introducing its own candidate for the position of independent interim mayor.
Harel said she did not know who her party would support if it did not introduce a candidate from Vision Montréal.
Applebaum defends anglophone comments
"I will ask, if I am elected, that the chair of the executive committee also sit as an independent," said Applebaum on Wednesday.
He quickly defended questions about whether some Montrealers would not want an anglophone as interim mayor.
"I think we're beyond this. We have issues other than language. Yes, I'm an anglophone... I make a few mistakes every now and then... but I was born here, I am a Quebecker and I am proud of being able to work and speak French."
Wave of councillors quit majority party
Wednesday's shifts in city hall come as the debate over who will succeed Tremblay rages on.
Alain Tassé and Frank Venneri also added their voices to that of the councillor for the district of Saint-Michel, Frantz Benjamin.
Benjamin first announced his departure from the party on Oct .30, but made the move official today.
He is the lone councillor to resign who has not openly backed Applebaum in his bid for election as interim mayor.
Lionel Perez and Susan Clarke, councillors for the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough also left the party Wednesday.
Applebaum urges council to consider a coalition
Tuesday, Applebaum said he was considering running for interim mayor as an independent councillor.
He also urged other party leaders to consider forming a coalition to run the city until the November 2013 election.
City councillor and the executive committee's vice-chair, Alan DeSousa, said Applebaum's coalition would be unstable. He said he thinks Applebaum is willing to cut a deal with anyone in order to be mayor of Montreal.
"In my opinion, it's a naked grab for power — high risk, high stakes roll of the dice," DeSousa said.
But Applebaum has stressed the importance of limiting the interim mayor's role, saying that the interim mayor should not be running for mayor of Montreal in 2013.
Applebaum was the chair of the city's executive committee before he resigned last week over citing a dispute with other members over whether to release an internal working document that had been suppressed by the committee.
He says he is best suited to head the proposed coalition.
"I'm in serious reflection [over] Union Montréal and my political future in that party," Applebaum told reporters on Tuesday.
Applebaum 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.
Councillors have until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to enter their candidacy for interim mayor. The new mayor will be selected on Friday by secret ballot.