On Tuesday, Applebaum resigned in the wake of corruption charges being laid against him, though he maintains he is innocent.
Legally, Montreal's 62 councillors have 30 days to chose an interim mayor, though Quebec’s Minister of Municipal Affairs Sylvain Gaudreault said he hopes they make the decision soon.
“We would like the interim mayor to be a candidate that has stayed above the fray,” Gaudreault said at a news conference following Applebaum’s resignation. “We hope this will happen as quickly as possible. This is a very important point in time for the city of Montreal."
Gaudreault did not rule out additional investigations, but deferred questions to UPAC, Quebec's anti-corruption investigation unit.
Gaudreault said that the province has no plans to take control away from council by placing the city under trusteeship, but would provide a “special adviser” if asked.
Applebaum was selected as mayor by council on Nov. 16, 2012, following the resignation of Gérald Tremblay amid allegations of corruption.
Deputy Mayor Jane Cowell-Poitras will step in until a new interim mayor is selected, just as she did when Tremblay resigned.
The first candidate to say he would be running for the interim position was François Croteau, the councillor representing Montreal's Rosemont Petite–Patrie borough.
Croteau announced he is leaving his political party — Projet Montréal — to become an independent councillor because he said it will allow him to focus on managing the city in a non-partisan fashion.
“That individual has to have been someone who is detached from the political party and will not get involved in political action,” he said. “Montrealers need stability and they need to be sure citizens receive services.”
Members of Projet Montréal took Applebaum's resignation as an opportunity to denounce the now-disbanded Union Montréal, another municipal party which both Applebaum and Tremblay were members of.
Union Montréal was dissolved just over a month ago in the wake of damning testimony before the province's corruption inquiry, and members like Applebaum became independent councillors.
“What we have to avoid is a return to Union Montréal. This Hydra has not been decapitated yet,” said Richard Bergeron, leader of Projet Montréal.
However, city hall Speaker Harout Chitilian said that councillors must now work “hand in hand” to ensure Montreal functions for its citizens.
“We can’t paint everyone with the same brush,” said Chitilian. “It doesn’t mean the whole team are dishonourable people.”
The campaign period for November’s elections begin Sept. 18.