Montreal mayoral candidate Marcel Côté started out the day planning to do a pair of campaign photo-ops but instead met the press three separate times to apologize for about 1,000 robocalls sent out by a company his party hired to help him win on November 3.

The company that made the automated survey phone calls failed to mention that it was paid for by the Cote team, which is an infraction of electoral law, he explained.

“It's a mistake of communication. It's an honest mistake, I take the blame for it. We should have checked the voice over but we didn't,” said Côté.

The phone messages took aim at Projet Montreal, making reference to a recent controversy involving the financing of a fruit and vegetable kiosk in the Plateau borough.

Côté said that the calls were stopped after only about 15 minutes.

But Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron denounced the content of the ads more than the party's failure to identify their source.

“Vicious and a bunch of lies. It's unacceptable. Mr. Côté , what you did discredits you for the rest of the campaign. Shame on you,” said Bergeron. “I ask the people of Montreal, the voters, to turn their back on Mr. Cote. Bye-bye Mr. Côté .”

Other contenders in the mayoral race also blasted the calls.

“I think that it's disgraceful. This is not the way I'm doing doing politics and I'm looking forward to putting in a complaint with the DGE (Director General of Elections) on that,” said candidate Denis Coderre.

Melanie Joly also denounced the calls. “Mr. Côté says he's a newcomer in politics, but actually we see that he's an old-style politician,” she said.