Mayor Applebaum & Corruption in Montréal
      — ‘The insolence of office’ —
a personal view from Philip Tagg

ex-professeur de musicologie, Université de Montréal,
Côte-des-Neiges resident 2003-2010

[Huddersfield (UK), 1st posted 2013-06-18, updated 130620, 22]

The interim mayor of Montréal, Michael Applebaum, was arrested on 17 June by the Sûreté (Québec police) on fourteen counts of fraud and corruption. The accusations, investigated by UPAC (Unité Permanante Anti-Corruption), relate to dubious property deals made during Applebaum’s reign as mayor of the Montréal borough Côte-des-Neiges / Notre-Dame-de-Grace. He has since resigned. [Read more / En lire plus]

Michael Appelbaum

When I was teaching at the Université de Montréal I had the misfortune, along with 38 other individuals, of buying a small apartment in one such property in Côte-des-Neiges. I paid dearly for my naivety when my apartment was finally sold at a loss of around $20,000 after my return to the UK in 2010.

Two others councillors, Saulie Zajdel and Jean-Yves Bisson, have also been arrested in connection with the Côte-des-Neiges property scandals.

Also arrested: Saulie Zajdel, councillor

Zajdel, who had bought a flat for his daughter in the building that also housed my apartment, vehemently opposed the efforts of our condo association to bring clarity into what lay behind all the problems we were having with the building.

Mme Ouellet and I were elected officers in the association (syndicat des copropriétaires). We just wanted to find out the truth about our building and to improve the situation for all its condo owners. Our efforts were thwarted by Zajdel, by the developers, by the owner of the commercial unit, and, as we experienced when raising the issue at a meeting of the borough council in 2008, by Applebaum himself in a thoroughly dismissive manner.

 

Mais, voyons donc, vous exaggérez!  (≈ ‘Come on, you’re exaggerating’) was not an uncommon reaction towards our suspicions of corruption in conjunction with the property in which we had bought a place to live. Whether or not the recent arrests include the dark dealings connected with our building is not the point, even if I’d love to recuperate my lost $20,000. The point is that what I perceive as the arrogant wielding of illegal power at the expense of honest and innocent citizens has now come to light. I feel that the efforts of Mme Ouellet and myself have been at least partially vindicated in that we can no longer, now that the Québec anti-corruption unit have arrested Applebaum and Zajdel, be accused of fabricating conspiracy theories. Merci, UPAC et merci à la Sûreté! Finalement!

Since I don’t want to make matters worse for my ex-fellow-condo-owners I am withholding the identity and location of our building.

Montréal, and Québec in general, have suffered from endemic corruption ever since the days of alcohol prohibition in the USA (see also here). The construction and property markets are particularly rife with corruption that the media used to treat as scandalous but which has latterly become little more than titillating entertainment confirming popular disillusionment in politicians.

Canadians pride themseleves about “good governance”. I cannot speak about Toronto or anywhere else in Canada but I was appalled by the corruption I met in Montréal.


For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
Shakespeare: Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1 (soliloquy)

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