He went out as he has always been. Cowardly, awash in self pity, and oblivious to all but that which affects him personally.
In a rare 7PM news conference (timed to miss the supper hour newscasts, naturally), Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay announced his resignation.
"I am committing my last act of love for Montreal. After twenty five years of service to this community I am leaving public life".
In his parting words to the city, Tremblay denied any and all responsibility. He proclaimed his innocence and cast himself as a victim, saying that one day history would show him to have been a crusader against corruption.
"I have always promoted the values of honesty, integrity and trust", he said. But he was let down by his subordinates. He said that he was never aware of anything more than rumours prior to 2009, and decided that he should run again, because he was the best person to clean up the mess.
He flatly and emphatically denied the accusation made by former party organizer Martin Dumont at the Charbonneau Commission that he was aware of double bookkeeping and irregularities in the funding of Union Montreal, his political party.
I could go on, but I imagine you get the idea. It was a weepy, self-pitying performance by a man clinging to a reputation which only he seems not to realize is beyond repair.
Where he had an opportunity to come clean, and shine a light on the mess he ruled over for eleven years, he chose instead to continue to insult our collective intelligence.
If the Mayor is to be believed, then the only logical conclusion is that he is a complete and utter ignoramus. How else could he have been so completely oblivious to what was happening right under his nose?
But I don't believe he's an ignoramus. I think he's a crook, and he got caught. But rather than fess up, even as he resigns in disgrace, he would rather play on the sympathies of the twelve Montrealers who still believe a word he says.
Like an amethyst, Tremblay wants us to believe that while he might be ugly and dark looking on the outside, on the inside he is a beautiful gem. Pull the other one Gerald.
Still, we should be happy tonight. We got rid of one crook. That's cause enough for celebration. Sadly, his resignation came after the November 3 deadline before which it would have triggered an early election under provincial law. So now we have to wait until next November's election to throw his gang of corrupt Union Montreal sleazeballs out.
In the meantime, a member of his party will be selected to replace him, and we'll have the same gang of crooks running the city for the next year.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this time next year, we must get rid of the old parties at City Hall. Both Union and Vision are up to their necks in this mess, and utterly incapable of cleaning it up.
In a scrum after Tremblay's resignation, Richard Bergeron, the leader of Projet Montreal, said "Tremblay's era is closed... we need to rebuild the city".
I agree. And for my money Projet, who were endorsed by Justice John Gomery as the only uncorrupted choice in the 2009 election, are the best bet to make the wholesale changes which are required, rather than just slapping on a fresh coat of paint and carrying on with business as usual.
If we don't make the drastic and systemic changes this crisis requires, then we must be ready to accept some of the blame for our sad state of affairs.
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