Montreal's mayor has resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal, becoming the highest-profile political casualty of the controversies currently rocking Quebec.
A defensive Gerald Tremblay said he had done nothing wrong but was stepping aside for the greater good of a city that has been politically paralyzed.
He made the announcement late Monday at a city hall where large construction contracts have been frozen; current municipal employees have been suspended; past employees face criminal charges; and an unpopular budget has had to be abandoned.
Now the mayor's gone.
"Under these circumstances, I cannot help any more," Tremblay said in a solemn speech. "The success of our city is much more important than my personal interest."
The 70-year-old mayor held onto office just long enough to delay an election to replace him, which would have been triggered had he resigned only a few days earlier.
Tremblay had avoided the public eye last week, taking two days off work. Because he has quit after Nov. 3, less than a year until the next scheduled election, provincial law says he can now be replaced with an interim mayor chosen by the city council that his scandal-plagued party controls.
Tremblay insisted he was unaware of corruption in his administration and only learned about it after the fact, saying Monday that he felt betrayed by the people who had abused his trust.