Officials at Montreal city hall say rules for severance packages need to be changed after former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was granted a $268,000 payout following his resignation.
Applebaum resigned from office after being arrested in June and charged with fraud and conspiracy.
Opposition leader Louise Harel says she plans to table a motion at city hall to have the rules changed for politicians who don't finish their mandates.
Applebaum’s severance package is divided into two portions — his departure pay and his transition pay. The payout is governed by provincial law, but the municipality does have some say in the criteria surrounding the transition pay.
City spokesman Gonzalo Nunez said the law governing severance payouts does not take into account the reason for the end of time in office, except in the case of death.
"Nothing allows us to refuse payment of severance and transition allowances, despite reasons behind his resignation or the criminal charges against him," Nunez said on Wednesday.
Municipal party Vision Montréal wants to change that.
“[Applebaum] will be able to keep this money even if he is found guilty of the criminal charges against him,” Harel said.
Harel’s party, Vision Montréal, wants to table a motion on Aug. 26 that would prevent elected officials from receiving transition pay if they leave office before the end of their term, unless they have a 'valid' reason like an illness.
“The resignation of an elected official from public life creates added costs, including the need for another election.,” Harel said in a statement released on Thursday.
Projet Montréal Leader Richard Bergeron agreed the severance payout was surprising.
“I'm a taxpayer in Montreal and I'm shocked like everybody,” Bergeron said.
However, he added that now might not be the best time to change the rules, considering municipal elections are coming up in November.
Mayoral candidate Denis Coderre suggested that Applebaum’s payout should at least be held until he is acquitted of the charges.
“I believe in the presumption of innocence, so maybe we should freeze it,” Coderre said.
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