Montreal mayor resigns, denies corruption allegations
Published Monday, November 5, 2012 10:28PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 5, 2012 10:57PM EST
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay has announced he is resigning from office following ongoing allegations of corruption.
“Tonight I am here to inform you that after 25 years of service to this community I am leaving public life,” Tremblay said in an address to Montrealers Monday night.
Tremblay is the biggest casualty so far in a corruption scandal that has grown and shaken confidence in Montreal’s public officials.
“The trust I had in some was inevitably betrayed,” he said “I assume full responsibility.”
Tremblay himself has been accused of turning a blind eye to illegal fundraising carried out by his party and questions have swirled about how much he knew and what role he played.
But as he announced his departure, he maintained that he is the victim of “hidden agendas” that have conspired to create a perception of doubt regarding his actions.
“In politics it seems that perception matters more than the truth,” Tremblay said. “Especially when this perception is manipulated by multiple factors, not to mention agendas.
“The truth is what I gave to the Charbonneau Commission. Unfortunately I don’t have the opportunity to defend myself.”
Tremblay said contrary to accusations that have been floated about him, he never attended meetings where he was told about improper book keeping by officials in his own party. He also said he never expected to end his career this way, but that the truth would eventually emerge.
“I fought often alone in a system of collusion and corruption that the Charbonneau Commission has revealed existed at least since 1988,” Tremblay said.
He added he was stepping aside because “the success of our city is much more important than my personal interests.”
The announcement came after Tremblay called an emergency meeting of councillors from his party for 6 p.m.
The embattled mayor returned to work Monday after taking time off at the end of last week. But he dodged television crews that had been gathering outside his office all day, drawing calls from opposition council members for him to explain himself to Montrealers.
“We demand the mayor come to explain exactly what happened with him and his administration,” Vision Montreal leader Louise Harel said earlier Monday. “It’s impossible to leave Montreal for four days in that context.”
Councillor Richard Bergeron accused Tremblay of playing an ‘irresponsible game of cat and mouse’ with Montrealers and the media.
In the meantime, a fourth city official was suspended without pay Monday after three others were suspended in early October as the city investigates allegations of corruption.
With Tremblay stepping aside within a year of the next scheduled municipal election, city council is expected to pick a temporary mayor rather than hold an election to choose a replacement. Tremblay’s Union Montreal party will remain in power. The next municipal election is scheduled to take place in a year’s time.
Tremblay, 70, has been mayor of Montreal since 2002. He previously served as a minister in the Quebec government in the early nineties. He listed his proudest achievements as the integration of Montreals’ various boroughs after amalgamation, the stabilization of the city’s finances and improvement of the city’s transit system.