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Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum faces 14 charges including fraud

‘No one is above the law,’ says Quebec’s anti-corruption squad


 

MONTREAL – The same Montreal interim mayor who had cast himself as the man to clean up corruption scandals plaguing the city has now been arrested.

Mayor Michael Applebaum was picked up at his home Monday morning by Quebec’s anti-corruption unit. He faces 14 charges including fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust, and corruption in municipal affairs.

The news came just seven months after Applebaum rose to his role by promising to lead Montreal out of its era of sleaze. In a skilful bit of political manoeuvring last fall, he courted support from different parties and was elected by council on an interim basis to replace Gerald Tremblay.

Applebaum had promised not to run in the upcoming election, slated for November. But his interim appointment was enough to make history: he became the first Anglophone mayor of the city in exactly 100 years.

Signs of trouble surfaced soon afterward.

Anti-corruption officials raided Montreal’s city hall in February. They also targeted offices in various boroughs, including the one Applebaum represented for many years.

“We can no longer tolerate these reprehensible acts committed towards the management of our public institutions,” said Robert Lafreniere, head of the provincial police anti-corruption squad.

“No one is above the law — and you can’t hide from the law.”

Also arrested Monday was a former employee of the Harper government. Saulie Zajdel was also a Conservative election candidate in 2011.

Saulie Zajdel, who worked in a ministerial office for the federal Tories on ethnic outreach, faces five charges including breach of trust, fraud and corruption. Zajdel had been nicknamed the “Shadow” MP as the Tories hoped to gain a foothold in Montreal in the riding of Liberal Irwin Cotler.

Cotler urged people not to rush to judgment against his rival.

“I was made aware of the arrest of Saulie Zajdel from media reports this morning. Everyone benefits from the presumption of innocence,” Cotler tweeted.

“Thus I have no comment while the police investigation and related process in this matter are ongoing.”

The charges stem from alleged acts that occurred between 2006 and 2011, before Applebaum became mayor. While officials offered few details, they said they relate to real-estate projects in the west-end borough Applebaum led.

Police said the transactions being investigated were worth “tens of thousands of dollars.”

Now Applebaum’s city-hall allies — including the leader of the main opposition party, who last fall joined his coalition administration — are asking him to resign immediately.

The local politicians, however, say the city doesn’t need to be placed under provincial trusteeship like the next-door suburb of Laval.

Mayoral candidate Denis Coderre, a longtime federal politician, called Monday’s news “sad” but he said there’s hope for the city.

“I think the message we have to send today is that Montreal is bigger than only a few individuals, Coderre said, arguing against trusteeship. “The rotten apples, they’ll be taken out… But we can’t put everyone in the same basket.”

Coderre added, in a message to Montrealers: “You have an alternative. I am that alternative.”

Applebaum is just the latest Quebec mayor to be arrested by the anti-corruption unit. The next-door suburb of Laval is even more deeply submerged in scandal.

Gilles Vaillancourt, the former longtime mayor of Laval, was arrested in a sweep last month and charged with fraud and gangsterism.

The provincial police squad alleges that the city hall Vaillancourt led was essentially a criminal organization, with officials there allegedly enriching themselves off local construction deals.

In Montreal the last elected mayor, Tremblay, resigned when a witness at a corruption inquiry said he turned a blind eye to illegal financing in his now-defunct political party.

Now the interim successors to both men are embroiled in their own troubles.

In Laval, the provincial government has declared trusteeship after inquiry testimony that almost all council members, including the interim successor to Vaillancourt, participated in illegal financing schemes.

And next door in Montreal, the mayor has been detained.

In his speech to council, on the day he was chosen mayor, Applebaum cast himself as a historic candidate but not for linguistic reasons. He had brushed aside questions about language, and didn’t utter a word of English in his speech Friday.

Applebaum said his victory would be historic because he wanted to create a multi-partisan coalition, uniting former foes to clean up the scandal-plagued city.

“We will regain the confidence of our citizens,” Applebaum said at the time.

“With everything that’s been going on, I understand that they’ve been hurt.”


 

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum faces 14 charges including fraud

  1. Applebaum is not an anglophone. Applebaum is an anglophone as much as Diefenbaker was a francophone. Please get it right, just say he was the first non-francophone mayor in 100 years. Shame on the editor.

    • At least Quebecers show intolerance for corruption and perp walk their offenders left, right and centre. Rob Ford would have lasted a week in Montreal.

  2. First, let’s not forget: innocent till proven guilty. Second there is always a lingering suspicion that after dozens of corruption cases involving pure-laine Quebecois names and a few Italian construction bosses it feels sort of good to round up fellows with names like Applebaum and Zaidel. It doesn’t mean that they are not crooks like many of their counterparts in Quebec municipalities, the dirtiest jurisdictions of them all. But still it plays nicely into the hands of PQ and Marois who herself together with her millionaire husband must have pulled a few strings to get a permit to build their $7 million mansion on the agriculturally zoned land and a private “grande entrée” type road to the estate. The point is that if you dig deep enough you’d find so many not completely “kosher” guys and girls in Quebec politics, you’d want to throw up. But you can’t arrest them all, can you? Otherwise the system would collapse.

  3. SPVM officers lie in at least municipal courts of law
    and not only get away with it yet rub it in when refusing to adress tresspassing, violation of private property, intimidation, assault and uttering threats complaints concerning one Mark L Johnston, 2196 DuSouvenir who states to have a buddy at station 20 and who has persistently lied about his trangressions towards the Jardin Des Franciscains property and the Francicans and their tenants guests there, not to mention the neighbours.
    Granted something of this nature may seem petty compared to “tens of thousands of dollars” but police who lie in court and discriminate when responding to 911 calls might be seen as at least breaching public trust if not corrupt to the core whereby their salaries, benefits and pensions dont merit a single penny from a single tax dollar.
    In fact the people of the Island should vote as to wether or not they want to pay any of the SPVM anything at all since, unless it’s extortion, the citizens can in fact fire them all and assume their RIGHTS, including their HUMAN RIGHTS, and especially the rights the police deny they have in the first place.
    Something an honest mayor might want to clarify though under the tax paid cushy job appointing self serving Provincial Marois Government ( note Duceppe who the people canned) Mme’s liitle far from honest thus SPVM besuiting political career pursuing in spite of numerous voter cannings Coderre is next in line as her preferred little corrupt pet. A Coderre who seeing the lack of personal financing available in the construction industry being cleaned up and cleared out is hoping to set up his own little pocketeering empire, a few bucks up the Provincial money tube to his apointees, using the IT sector and be$uiting projects to make, as the IBM ads have been purporting for over 10 years in order to sell their overpriced products and services, a “smart” city.
    Far as I’m concerned Montrealers are smart enough allready and don’t need to pay a penny to a city hall nor its employees or it’s tax collecting henchmen the SPVM.
    That’s my vote.
    PS: if anyone else votes likewise please note that they will have to find a way to dispose of their dog’s poo in some other way than their OR THEIR NEIGHBOURS garbage can and the Franciscans property
    is not that way. (try googling or blekkoing sceptic disposal).
    PPS: you might also need to start capturing rain water.
    PPPS: screw it, just say f* mtl, its mayors, its police force and leave the city. I hear the air is fresher and the people friendlier off Island.

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