|Michael Applebaum. (QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - City councillors narrowly elected Michael Applebaum as interim mayor of Montreal, the first English person to hold the post in more than 100 years.
Applebaum will steer the scandal-ridden city until provincewide municipal elections are held in November 2013.
The longtime councillor replaces Gerald Tremblay, who quit last week following allegations he knew that dirty cash was being funnelled into his Union Montreal party in 2004.
Applebaum, who until last week was chairman of the city's executive committee, had been a Tremblay lieutenant but he quit to run as an independent amid a litany of damaging allegations at the Charbonneau Commission.
Applebaum accused his former colleagues of "hiding reports" that showed road work in Montreal cost up to 40% more than in the rest of Canada. He was able to get opposition councillors to support his leadership and beat Tremblay loyalist Richard Deschamps 31 to 29.
"I know that it's been a difficult race," Applebaum, 49, said Friday in an address in the council chamber.
"Now is the time to rebuild our bridges, to work together and to ensure that Montrealers can be proud of what we do as elected officials to re-establish trust."
Applebaum, a realtor by profession, is the first English person to be elected mayor of Canada's second-largest city since 1910 when Dr. James John Guerin occupied the post. Some Quebec nationalists had opposed Applebaum's candidacy on the basis of his English heritage and heavily-accented French.
A wide-ranging collusion scheme drove up the cost of public projects while fattening the pockets of businessmen, bureaucrats and the Mafia, a public inquiry has heard.