Montreal – Although he was convicted of breach of trust, and sordid other charges, former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum’s sentence hearing today had a level of justice hovering around 2%. Stay with me, I’ll explain.
The day began with heart-wrenching testimony by Applebaum’s faithful son Dylan, a 23-year old Concordia student.
“My grandmother is still alive and my dad calls her every day. She’s 88 years old and we have her over for dinner almost every Friday,” said the young Applebaum, his voice cracking with emotion. The sentence hearing is to determine what punishment the former mayor is to receive, whether he goes to jail.
The young but poised Applebaum explained how his deceased grandfather had had a shoe store that his father worked at when 13 years of age. Tears well-up as he testified. And when the grandfather was dying, Michael Applebaum never left his side for days on end. Wiping away more tears, Dylan said both he and his mother depended on his father for family stability.
“Were you born?” asked Judge Louise Provost, observing that a 23 year old was not likely to witness his father working at age 13. Dylan explained that this information was relayed to him by his grandparents.
“I wanted to be here, I could not not be here” to support my father, insisted Dylan, speaking English. He told of how he went door-to-door supporting his father in the early campaign days. He spoke of how Michael and his wife adopted two girls who became Dylan’s sisters. A pattern of kindness shown by the convicted man was clearly developing.
All the while, Judge Louise Provost took copious notes. But I suspect it’s all theatre. This is the denouement to the major action, which saw Applebaum convicted by the testimony of his former aid Hugo Tremblay, an admitted thief. Maybe thief is too kind for the acknowledged bribe taker who took a plea bargain to implicate his boss.
The testimony of Tremblay had all the odour of a cattle feedlot, but was accepted virtually whole-heartedly by Judge Provost. Incomprehensible.
Although Applebaum’s supporting witnesses today were miniscule in number, the only other witness, Salvatore Sansalone, was persuasive, confident, and compelling while speaking French. The hearing was a typical bilingual smorgasboard.
With his arms outstretched like a tripod for much of his testimony, Sansalone expressed his utmost faith in Applebaum. Either Applebaum had been abandoned by his previous friends, or his lawyer chose not to call many witnesses, or a combination of both. You have to wonder why a stellar cast of witnesses was not assembled.
Similarly, the courtroom was poorly designed for a sentence hearing, with bullet-proof glass enclosures looming prominently behind the defence team.
At one point, Applebaum walked past to speak to persons sitting immediately behind me. His whisper was inaudible to my ears and reminded me of mention during the trial proper when police wiretapped a conversation between Tremblay and Applebaum. At the trial, Applebaum was suspected of trying to hide his knowledge of bribes because he whispered. I think Applebaum whispers because he doesn’t want nosy people like me eavesdropping.
As the day in court went on, I was relieved when the judge called a recess for lunch. I quickly proceeded to the cafeteria. Twenty minutes later, who shows up? Judge Provost in her civvies. As she bought her lunch, I noticed her purchase a 500 ml carton of 2% milk. That’s about the percentage of justice I feel Applebaum has received(see Applebaum Conviction A Travesty.)
I had the opportunity to speak privately with Applebaum’s lawyer Pierre Teasdale about the evidence against his client. Though he disclosed nothing new.
“Will you appeal?” I asked the dignified lawyer as he stood 3 urinals down from me at the courthouse washroom.
“Are you a journalist?” he enquired.
“Well, I’m still looking at it,” he continued.
I had finished looking at “it.” Then he asked me what I thought. I explained I believed Applebaum had been convicted without a shred of evidence.
“There was evidence, but it came down to a question of reliability,” he said, “and the judge ruled on that.”
That’s about all I could get from Teasdale before he washed his hands of it, as I dried my own.
I stayed in court till late afternoon, as it was almost my nap time. As of blog time no sentence had been handed down. Good night for now.