Montrealers will vote in municipal elections on Nov. 1. This newspaper has already stated that students should feel obliged to participate in this process. In the coming weeks, we will feature interviews with political organizers of various ideological stripes to help Concordia students get a grasp of the issues and make an informed decision. We will withhold our editorial endorsement until the week of the election to give students an opportunity to form their own opinion.
In preparation for the weeks to come, in this issue we are giving you a full breakdown of municipal politics &- who’s running, how the system works, how to vote &- so as to better prepare you for the upcoming elections. We hope that you will consider this information seriously and participate by casting your ballot when the time comes.
1) The System
Montreal will not just be electing a mayor on Nov. 1, but will also be voting for city councillors, borough mayors and borough councillors.
The mayoralty is both the executive in city hall and the first among equals in city council, much like the Prime minister of Canada. So while the result of the mayoral race is important, the character of city council will be determined by which party wins the most seats. Unlike other major Canadian cities, there are political parties at the municipal level in Montreal. The parties each have slates of candidates running for council and a candidate for mayor. This means one can vote for the councillor for party X in their riding and the mayor for party Y.
Furthermore, while the city council is important, many of the decisions that affect your daily life come at the borough level. Borough responsibilities include urban planning, road maintenance, garbage pick up and the issuing of permits. So it is equally important for people to be informed of who is running in their borough.
2) The candidates
There are three main candidates running for mayor: incumbent Gerald Tremblay of Union MontrÃ©al, Louise Harel of Vision MontrÃ©al and Richard Bergeron of Projet MontrÃ©al.
Tremblay has been the mayor since 2002. Though he has been an effective mayor overall, his two terms have been plagued by scandals and allegations of corruption. He is still leading in the polls, but his support is waining.
Harel’s Vision MontrÃ©al party is the current official opposition in city hall. Vision was in power until 2002 under mayor Pierre Bourque who lost to Tremblay. Bourque’s government is praised for starting the Ã‰co-quartiers program, reopening the Lachine Canal and balancing the municipal budget, but blamed for the fallout after the failed municipal merger. Harel stands a good chance at being elected, but has been criticized for her extremely poor English. She has vowed to learn English if she wins.
Projet MontrÃ©al is the dark horse party in these elections. The party is relatively new, and only recently won their first seat at city council. Bergeron, the party’s candidate for mayor is outspokenly progressive and has been accused of being anti business and anti development. Though his party is not polling as strongly as the two main contenders, their shortcoming and his status as an outsider could allow him to squeeze his way into city hall.
3) How to vote
Registering to vote is a simple and easy process. Not having registered is not an excuse for not voting. To be eligible to vote, you much be 18 years of age or older as of Nov. 1, a Canadian citizen, be living in Montreal and have been living in Quebec since March 1, 2009. All you need to vote is one piece of official identification. To find out where to vote you need to contact your local returning officer.
Ã‰lections Quebec, who organize the voting
Websites of the three main parties