Who is Laurent Blanchard, Montreal’s newest interim mayor?


Montreal’s city council chose a new temporary leader on Tuesday, naming Laurent Blanchard the latest to try to shepherd the scandal-plagued government through to the next election.

Blanchard, chairman of the city’s executive committee, was voted in as Montreal's latest interim mayor on Tuesday, narrowly beating council speaker Harout Chitilian to become the city's third leader in seven months.

Former mayor Gerald Tremblay stepped down in November amid allegations of corruption in his ranks. His replacement, interim mayor Michael Applebaum, stepped down last week after he was charged in a corruption investigation of his own.

That left city council tasked with the need to find a squeaky clean member to hold the reigns until the municipal election later this year.

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So, who is Montreal's new, new mayor?

Blanchard, an eight-year veteran of Montreal's city council, was a newspaper publisher before he joined politics in 2005. He is backed by the municipal Vision Montreal party, and considered an ally of Vision Montreal Leader Louise Harel, who is expected to seek the permanent mayoral position in November.

Blanchard himself is not currently a member of Vision Montreal. He resigned from the party to sit as an independent in November, when Applebaum named him chairman of the city's executive council.

[ More Brew: Montreal’s next interim mayor had better be squeaky clean ]

The Montreal Gazette describes Blanchard as a popular politician who is "well versed in city affairs and has proven able to conduct a coalition government."

As part of his bid for the interim position, Blanchard underlined the need for stability at city hall and vowed to run the city smoothly until the next election.

“I wanted to be voted in as someone who brings all the people together,” Blanchard said after the vote, according to the Gazette.

Blanchard’s brief reign will come as the province’s anti-corruption investigation unit continues to dig into allegations of impropriety between city officials and the construction industry.

His permanent replacement will be chosen in a general election scheduled for November.