Home On the scene during election night

On the scene during election night

by admin November 3, 2009

When the final results were announced, hours later than expected, Mayor Gérald Temblay was elected to his third consecutive term. Louise Harel, Vision Montéal leader, came in second. Projet Montréal’s mayoral candidate, Richard Bergeron, came in third. Union Montréal will have 38 representatives in city council, Vision Montréal will have 17, and Projet Montréal will have 10. Here is an inside look at what the candidates and supporters for the three parties were doing on Election Night 2009.

The atmosphere at Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s party was dulled on account of an hour-long delay at polling stations that morning.
Still, campaign leaders showed it was well-organized. Lights set up below the stage projected Union’s five-colour rainbow logo onto the screen. The few people in the room picked at the sandwiches, wraps, grapes and cheese that had been laid out. Almost an hour into the evening, when a man came around offering drink tickets, I politely declined. Another 20 minutes later, I thoroughly regretted this decision.
Results started trickling in just after 9 p.m. The results far exceeded what many pollsters had predicted. Tremblay was on top the entire evening, defying recent surveys that had him behind both Louise Harel and Richard Bergeron.
“The word for right now is caution,” the mayor’s spokesperson, Martin Tremblay, said an hour after the ballots started being counted. “But I think in a couple of hours we’ll still have our lead.”
Mayor Tremblay’s support had dropped significantly from the previous election, as was reflected in polls leading to election night.
But the spokesperson challenged the numbers. “There are three significant parties this year. It’s been an unconventional campaign,” he said. “We’re going to have to see what happens over the next few days.”
When asked whether he thought the mayor would change some of his policies on account of his popularity ratings, the spokesman was noncommittal.
For much of evening, there were only a few dozen attendees awaiting the results. Television correspondents, camera operators, photographers and reporters easily outnumbered Tremblay supporters. When the first results came in, showing Tremblay with 41 per cent of the vote, there was barely a cheer, and only a few claps as the gymnasium remained mostly empty. As his lead began to solidify, however, and various media outlets called the race for Tremblay, people began to stream in quickly. Tremblay finally arrived to deliver a victory speech after midnight, well after an hour had passed since the results were final (it was rumoured he got lost on the way). By then, the gym was packed full of jubilant supporters.
While addressing all those supporters, Tremblay acknowledged the concerns about ethics and corruption at city hall. “I know the municipal administration has been shaken in the past few months. The citizens of Montreal want change, and we will achieve it. My challenge is to give you back confidence in municipal government.”

– Tyson Lowrie


Election night at the Vision Montréal party began with a small ripple of hope and ended with a splash for change in politics.
Almost no one was there for an hour after the doors opened. Cameramen tinkered with their equipment, and reporters milled around the dimply lit area talking with each other.
Another hour later, the music started when a small group of supporters came in. The relaxed atmosphere was lifted as more people came, all clapping, tapping, and whistling for Harel’s victory.
The volume increased with every glass of wine the bartenders poured. Event organizer Irene Marcheterre fidgeted, smoothing wrinkles out of her clothes as she stood near the podium. Other members of Harel’s team took interviews with reporters. Some walked swiftly through the crowd, greeting colleagues and friends. Others watched tensely the television screens and paced the floor.
Each time images of the Vision camp flashed on the big screens in the room, supporters zipped into a clapping frenzy, with sparks of hope igniting the crowd.
The results loomed on air at 10:35 p.m. proclaiming Tremblay’s win. People continued talking until the reality of the loss set in. But then came the total silence. Eyes were transfixed on the screen; the numbers weren’t changing any more. The quiet continued, as supporters accepted defeat and waited for their leader to come speak.
There were actions 8212; people patted others on the back and hugged each other 8212; but no words were being said.
Harel’s appearance regenerated the hope of the early evening; her green jacket was a burst of colour as she entered into the room. Her feet danced and her hips swayed to the music blaring from the speakers. Harel’s eyes sparkled when she spoke of the pride she bears for being a Montrealer. She lowered her head as she talked about her disappointment with the lack of voters, and stretched her arms into an embrace when acknowledging the efforts of her team.
The night held no drama or fight. It held the power of silence, expressing the frustrations and disappointments of the supporters .

– Renee Giblin


The room was unrecognizable as a music hall. On Nov. 1 Le National, in the Gay Village, was transformed into Projet Montréal’s victory party headquarters.
A giant projection screen hanging over the stage refreshed every 45 seconds with updated results; flat-screen televisions played video loops of Projet’s platform ideas, like the tramway and a city beach; blinding lights shone into candidates’ faces as they fielded questions from local television media; campaign posters that had the face of party leader Richard Bergeron cut out attracted supporters looking for a souvenir photo op.
Some candidates, like Luc Ferrandez, who won his bid for borough mayor in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, arrived with an entourage bearing posters and noise makers.
Others arrived with only one friend, spouse or campaign volunteer.
Cym Gomery, who ran for councillor in the Loyola district, described her own mood as zen. “It’s done now,” she said. “It’s out of my hands. I’ll have to accept what happens.”
More people trickled in as polling stations across the city closed. Mariachi-style music filled the theatre which was otherwise hushed with anticipation.
The mood shifted upward as votes were counted, and Bergeron’s numbers quickly surpassed those he posted in the 2005 municipal election.
The crowd, which eventually swelled to nearly 300, erupted in cheers each time any candidate8212; whether for mayor or councillor8212;earned one more vote.
It wasn’t long before the crowd realized Bergeron would not become mayor at the end of the night. But the upbeat mood was maintained, likely propped up by a continuous flow of beer and wine, accompanied by solid showings for candidates in 10 boroughs.
For many of these Projet supporters, the election was still a success.
In 2005, Bergeron was the only Projet candidate to win a seat in city council. He received only 8.5 per cent of the vote in his run for city mayor. This year, he received over 25 per cent of the vote for mayor, and will be taking a seat in the Plateau, where nearly 40 per cent of ballots cast were in his favour.
Earlier in the night, one of the team’s communications agents, Caroline Lavergne, said Montreal was on the brink of change.
While the definition of “brink” may have been expanded to include the four years until the next municipal election, the optimistic visions of change and success never disappeared from anyone’s dialogue.
“Projet Montreal is the party that represents the hope of Montreal,” Bergeron said. “We’ll be here in 2013. We’re here to stay.”

– Amy Minsky