Montreal interim mayor to be chosen next week

MONTREAL – Montreal will pick an interim mayor on Nov. 16 to replace the one who has resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal.

The winner will serve as interim mayor for just under a year, until the next general election.

The city announced Wednesday that the selection process will last four days next week, starting Tuesday when members from the municipal council can announce their candidacy. Unless a winner is chosen by acclamation there will be a vote on Friday, the 16th.

The vote will be held by members of city council — which is controlled by the scandal-plagued party of departed Mayor Gerald Tremblay. His party, Union Montreal, holds about 55 per cent of the seats on council while the rest are split among opposition parties and independents.

An opposition leader expressed frustration with some of the rules. Richard Bergeron of the Project Montreal party said he was disappointed that the temporary mayor could be chosen with votes from less than 50 per cent of council.

“We are disappointed that the vote for the interim mayor will rely on a simple majority instead of an absolute majority that would have included multiple rounds,” he said in a statement.

Bergeron added that, for the good of the city, he hoped the interim executive council — the municipal equivalent of a cabinet — would include members from different parties.

Tremblay announced his resignation this week, several days after politically devastating testimony at the province’s corruption inquiry.

A former aide testified that the mayor had, and ignored, information that his party used illegal donations and falsified its books. Tremblay had spent three years denying knowledge of wrongdoing within his administration — and he continues to deny the testimony at the inquiry.

However, the city had found itself politically paralyzed and the mayor’s legitimacy was under attack. He said he was quitting for the greater good of Montreal.

The inquiry has heard that corrupt officials at city hall took bribes to help construction companies fix public-works bids, while the companies paid kickbacks to the Italian Mafia and to Tremblay’s party.

Some of the mayor’s closest associates have been arrested and face criminal charges.