On Nov. 5, citizens across the province will have the chance to exercise their democratic power by voting in a municipal election. We at The Concordian would like to take this opportunity to remind our fellow students that they too hold the power and responsibility to cast a vote and be a part of the democratic process.
To start off, it’s important to understand the structure of municipal elections. In Montreal, for example, votes will be cast not only to decide the city’s mayor but the city councillors and 19 borough mayors as well.
Each borough has its own council consisting of at least five members, including city councillors, borough councillors and a borough mayor. This council meets every month and can make decisions about issues pertaining to parking permits, construction work and libraries, among other topics within the jurisdiction of their borough.
The city council, on the other hand, consists of the mayor of Montreal, 46 city councillors and all of the borough mayors. This council can make decisions about urban planning projects, the environment, the city’s budget and other major projects.
As voters, it’s also essential to know about the two major mayoral candidates and what their platforms entail. When it comes to public transit in Montreal, for example, incumbent Mayor Denis Coderre said he hopes to add to the STM’s fleet and invest in more electric buses. Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante, on the other hand, plans to create a pink metro line that would run from Lachine to Montreal North.
In terms of housing, Plante wants to advocate for provincial and federal investment in housing programs. Meanwhile, Coderre is looking to increase the number of housing inspectors and create a registry to investigate slums and poor apartment conditions.
Among other initiatives proposed by Coderre, there is a plan to develop day and night centres for the homeless in various boroughs, to promote creativity in arts and culture, to expand the cycling network, and to open a new sports complex in Lachine and an aquatic centre in Pierrefonds-Roxboro.
Along with her Projet Montréal team, Plante hopes to make major repairs to transform bike lanes into bike paths, increase transparency when it comes to funding cultural events, increase the amount of time pedestrians have to cross the street and make 300 more homeless shelter spaces available in the city.
On Oct. 23, the two mayoral candidates squared off in an intense debate that tackled topics ranging from the controversial breed-specific ban and bringing professional baseball back to the city to public transit and Bill 62. An article by CBC News described the two candidates as “polar opposites, as night-and-day.”
The same article also highlighted the importance of word choice in politics and provided an analysis by two political science PhD students. “In focusing on word patterns, as opposed to specific utterances, this kind of analysis offers a general sense of how the two contenders are trying to win over voters,” the article stated.
It’s important to understand the stances each candidate takes, to notice their choice of words and observe the tones they used when discussing specific issues. But what’s more essential is recognizing your own power as a citizen and the opportunity voting allows you to make a difference in your community.
Municipal elections may not seem like a high priority for many, but they are arguably more important than larger provincial or federal elections. The changes each candidate is looking to make are about issues that directly impact your community. These are the issues that are closest to home.
When we don’t vote, we don’t see the changes we want. When we don’t vote, we lose the ability to say we live in a democratic and politically active society. So take the time to learn a little bit about what each candidate is offering and, most importantly, go out and vote on Nov. 5.
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin