Montrealers will be heading to the polls Nov.1 to elect city’s main decision-making body — the mayor of Montreal, 19 borough mayors and 45 city councillors. Campaigning officially begins Sept. 18.
Here’s a little introduction to the four parties and the leaders vying to become mayor.
The Party: Union Montreal, est. 2001
Mayoral Candidate: Gérald Tremblay, incumbent mayor
The Story: Union Montreal take credit for initiating the Bixi
bike-share program in Montreal, and for "encouraging" the provincial government’s decision to invest in affordable housing in Montreal.
The party adopted an ambitious 20-year, $8.1 billion transportation plan in 2004. The game plan includes a rapid downtown-airport rail link, the plan to turn Notre-Dame St. East into a boulevard and charging tolls on bridges.
Among all this good though, Union Montreal has been fighting allegations of corruption at city hall. Tremblay’s administration has been accused of extortion and making deals with organized crime in relation city contracts, including a $10.6 million contract to renovate the roof on city hall.
The party formed in 2001, following the merger of Montreal and the surrounding municipalities in 2001. Tremblay won the election for mayor that same year, and again in 2005, both times beating Pierre Bourque from Vision Montreal.
The Party: Vision Montreal, est. 1994
Mayoral Candidate: Louise Harel, former PQ cabinet minister
The Story: Under the leadership of Mayor Pierre Bourque,
Vision Montreal implemented Éco-quartier programs in several city boroughs. As a result, green spaces have been added in public areas, and communities have been able to establish and maintain recycling programs and other sustainable initiatives. Bourque’s administration also revitalized the Old Montreal district and parts of Ste. Catherine St, and re-opened the Lachine Canal in 1997.
Bourque was, for a time, a moderate supporter of the Parti Québécois, the provincial sovereignist party to which Harel, the current mayoral candidate of Vision Montreal, belonged.
While provincial minister of municipal affairs in 2001, Harel pushed through legislation that gives mayor and executive committee the power to award municipal contracts without city council’s approval.
Critics say that Bourque’s seven-year tenure as mayor was ended when Montreal and the 27 surrounding municipalities merged in 2001. The merger, orchestrated and launched by the Parti Quebecois was largely considered unpopular; by 2005, 15 of the former municipalities had de-merged from the City.
Vision Montreal forms the current opposition in council.
The Party: Projet Montreal, est. 2004
Mayoral Candidate: Richard Bergeron, city councillor in the de Lorimier district in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough
The Story: Projet Montreal runs on an environmental platform. It
advocates sustainable environmentalism, reducing traffic and making urban areas more conducive to pedestrian traffic.
Bergeron has said the evolution of his party is credited to a grassroots network of closely-knit politicians and friends, mostly based in the Plateau-Mont-Royal area.
Projet Montreal received a boost in early August when now-retired Justice John Gomery announced he will sit as the party’s honorary chairperson for fundraising. Gomery lead the inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal in 2004-2005. Consequently, his name has become somewhat synonymous with ethical politics.
Mayor Tremblay’s Union Montreal party is currently the subject of corruption allegations.
One of Gomery’s daughters is running for city council with Projet Montreal in N.D.G.
The Party: Parti Montreal Ville-Marie, est. 2009
Mayoral Candidate: Louise O’Sullivan
The Story: O’Sullivan is a former member of Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s Union Montreal. Under that banner, O’Sullivan was a city councillor in the Peter-McGill district of the Ville-Marie borough.
She left the party on December 31, 2004.
Two years later, she ran for the federal Conservatives in Westmount—Ville-Marie during the general election. Liberal party candidate Lucienne Robillard won the riding.
O’Sullivan made some small waves in English media last month when she was reported saying she was in favour of a city council motion to rename certain Montreal streets. The motion in question stated that some of the city’s streets — McGill College Ave., University St. and Amherst St. to name a couple — are too English or should be renamed so as not to bear the name of British military commanders.
O’Sullivan has said she plans to reduce the number of city councillors by half.