MONTREAL (CUP) — Though not yet old enough to vote, a group of CEGEP students plan to take on Montreal’s ruling political party in next fall’s election. And one of the founding members is planning to run for mayor.
Bryce Durafourt, a first year student at Marianopolis College, said the decision to establish a new municipal party, New Era Montreal, was fuelled largely by frustration with corruption and financial mismanagement under current mayor Gerald Tremblay.
Durafourt emphasized the fact that the city could spend its money more effectively by focusing on the deeper issues underlying common complaints, such as reconstructing roads instead of repairing potholes.
“There are many issues like these that are not necessarily big things, but small things that need to be looked at,” he said. “What we want to do is talk to the average citizen and find out why they are happy or unhappy.”
The party’s platform also includes items such as cleaning up the city by bringing in more garbage cans, building new municipal facilities like libraries, promoting city-wide recreational activities, and encouraging major corporations to stay in Montreal by providing tax cuts to these businesses.
New Era Montreal will be one of many new municipal parties in Montreal this year, but Durafourt is still the youngest person ever to have announced plans for a mayoral candidacy.
Guy Tremblay, communications director for the current ruling party, Montreal Island Citizens Union, said that while his party has not heard of Durafourt or New Era Montreal, he is glad to hear that young people are getting so involved in politics.
“It sounds refreshing to me. If it wakes up that age group, I’m very happy about that,” he said, suggesting Durafourt might win more votes by joining one of Montreal’s more established parties.
Max Silverman, a McGill University student who ran in the last federal election as an NDP candidate in Toronto’s Eglinton-Lawrence riding only weeks after his 18th birthday, advised Durafourt to gear his campaign toward voters of all ages.
“While the mainstream voters probably won’t choose him . . . those who have been marginalized from voting are going to be very attracted to him,” said Silverman.
“You pick up a lot of people who feel sick of the usual politicians . . . only looking to advance their own personal agenda,” Silverman added. “If you’ve got this young person running it starts to put a bit of pressure on these career politicians to start answering to their citizens.”
Durafourt said while his platform is oriented toward the mainstream, his party also wants to draw young people into politics.
“We didn’t want to have a platform that was only appealing to youth. We knew that that wouldn’t be a winning strategy. But we do want to get youths and students involved,” said Durafourt.
New Era Montreal’s platform stresses the ability of young people to change the city. Durafourt said that since both the mayor and opposition leader will turn 63 this year, his party would bring a refreshing perspective.
“We’re not looking for major reforms, but just working with what we have and making what’s already there better,” he said. “Already I’ve learned a lot about politics, about how the city runs, and over the course of the summer I’m expecting to learn tons more.”