Montreal mayor’s resignation called 'courageous'

Quebec politicians are welcoming Gérald Tremblay's decision to step down as Montreal's mayor.

Provincial government will accompany Montreal through leadership transition

Gérald Tremblay announced his resignation as mayor of Montreal on Monday, speaking at a news conference. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Quebec politicians are welcoming Gérald Tremblay's decision to step down as Montreal's mayor.

Municipal Affairs Minister Sylvain Gaudreault said this is the first step in rebuilding the confidence of Montrealers in city leadership.

Tremblay resigned yesterday amid allegations that he turned a blind eye to corruption.

"I am leaving public life," Tremblay said at city hall.

Gaudreault noted Tremblay's 25-year legacy of public service and said that he respected Tremblay's decision to resign.

"He took this decision after several days of reflection. I think he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders," Gaudreault said in a press conference Tuesday.

Municipal Affairs Minister Sylvain Gaudreault and the Minister responsible for Montreal Jean-François Lisée react to Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay's resignation. (CBC)

He emphasized that the provincial government was not interested in looking into the past.

"We understand and we share the indignation of Montrealers, but we also want to assure them that we will accompany Montreal and its administration … through its transition," Gaudreault said.

Jean-François Lisée, the Parti-Québécois minister responsible for Montreal, said he was relieved by the mayor's resignation.

"Clearly the mayor did not have the legitimacy or the ability to run the city in an orderly fashion, as we saw around the budget last week," Lisée said. 

He also noted Tremblay's contribution to Quebec and public service over the past 25 years.

"It's sad that his political career ends on this note," Lisée said.

Montreal opposition parties react to Tremblay's resignation

Tremblay no longer had the moral authority to lead the city, according to Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron. 

"He took a very courageous decision last night and he did that with a kind of an elevation of tone. It was very well done. He succeeded in his exit as mayor of Montreal."

Bergeron would not comment on whether he believes Tremblay is innocent.

Official Opposition Leader Louise Harel said she was satisfied with Tremblay's decision, but she didn't place full blame on the mayor.

"He was a victim of all the people, his entourage," said the leader of Vision Montréal.

Tremblay continued to deny any direct knowledge of corruption within his administration on Monday evening, saying in his speech that "crooks" within his circle had betrayed his trust.

Bergeron said the provincial government should not step in, and that it should allow city council to re-elect an interim mayor.

Council has 30 days to elect a new mayor

Montreal's 62-member municipal council has one month to elect a new mayor by secret ballot vote.

Lisée said he hopes the council will choose the new mayor before Montreal's Cultural Summit on Nov. 26.

While the province will not interfere with the city council's election, Lisée said he hopes the council will choose someone who is respected by the opposition party as well as the majority.

"We wish for a person to be chosen who will go beyond parties …We hope for someone who will not be a candidate for next year's election, so as to have a caretaker of some repute and some independence for the year to come," he said. 

Tremblay was the leader of Union Montréal, which holds majority in the council.

Until an interim mayor is elected, Jane Cowell-Poitras, city councillor for Lachine, will stand in as acting mayor.

Once elected, the interim mayor will hold office until elections in November 2013.