Tyler Lemco’s successful defeat

Montreal’s lowest-polling mayoral candidate is a spark of possibility for his supporters

“When I first announced it, I was like, ‘Oh, this will be funny.’” These are not the words a typical mayoral candidate uses to describe his campaign. That’s because Tyler Lemco is not a typical mayoral candidate.

The former Epic Meal Time star and Concordia journalism graduate did not win Montreal’s mayoral election. He didn’t even come close. In fact, it’s unclear whether he wanted to win at all. There were cheers of joy from his Tequila Bar election party when Valérie Plante’s victory was announced on TV. This was not a defeat—not entirely. For Lemco and his supporters, victory was always secondary.

The odyssey of Tyler Lemco started in 2015 during the last federal election. Campaign signs adorned with the YouTube star’s face began popping up all over Montreal. This wasn’t a real bid for office, but it drew considerable attention on social media. “If I accomplished all of that with nothing, let’s see what I can do actually trying something,” Lemco said.

Last February, he met former Mayor Denis Coderre for the first time.

“I jokingly told him I was going to run against him and he laughed,” said Lemco. “So, it was that moment when I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

During the race, Lemco received mixed reactions from his running mates. “Plante has been great,” he said. “I’ve spoken to her probably 15 times. We have this weird mutual respect. Every so often, she’ll ask if I’m endorsing her and I’m like, ‘No, we’re still competition.’”

Lemco never managed to woo his other major opponent. “I’ve tried messaging [Coderre]. Even [after] the diss track, I was hoping he would say something. He’s essentially entirely ignored me.”

The diss track in question is a two and a half minute rap track, accompanied by a music video, posted on Lemco’s Youtube page on Oct. 31 as part of his aggressive social media campaign. “Coderre the unfair mayor, you a chump homie / looking like the white version of Professor Klump, homie,” is just one of the attacks Lemco launched against his then-incumbent opponent.

For three and a half months, Lemco ran his campaign on a razor-thin budget. He estimates that he spent about $500 of his own money, most of it on campaign signs and boosted Facebook posts. Lemco’s signs, which he put up around the city himself, encouraged passersby to vandalize them, which Montrealers responded to with enthusiasm.

In addition to his social media campaign, Lemco embarked on what he called a “bar-to-bar” campaign after struggling to connect with voters in broad daylight. “I go talk to people when they’re their most talkative, when they’ve got a few drinks in them,” he said. According to Lemco, the most common issues on people’s minds are the pit bull ban and Montreal’s expensive 375th anniversary celebrations.

Despite his campaign’s lighthearted beginnings, Lemco said he was shocked into seriousness by the support he received. It was then that he realized, “I can’t make this too much of a joke; I have this responsibility to give this a legitimate shot.”

Lemco did have some ideas for improving the city. He wanted to see heated roads rather than snow plows in the winter. Had he won the race, he would have continued vlogging during his tenure to encourage transparency at city hall. He also would have sought to ban rapper Pitbull from the city. “I’m a fair mayor, and I think the ban on pit bulls is absurd so I’d get rid of that, but I also believe there should be some balance in life,” he said, although he admitted he is a fan of the Miami-based rapper.

Regardless of the odds, there is at least one supporter who will never leave Lemco’s side. “Knowing Tyler, anything he wants to do, he goes at it full force. So, running for mayor or running for city council, I’m behind him 100 per cent,” said his mother, Brenda Lemco.

That’s not to say she wasn’t skeptical about his campaign at first. “Are you kidding? Is this really what you want to do? Are you serious?” she told him when she learned of his candidacy.

“I think the goal of this campaign first and foremost is to do something positive, try to start some important conversations,” Lemco said. He hopes his campaign will inspire others. “Look at me. Look at what I’m doing and I’m not qualified whatsoever,” he said. “If I win as a byproduct of that, then cool.” Although Lemco said it’s too far in the future to know for sure, he is not ruling out a second mayoral campaign.

Anyone with doubts about his plans for the future can consult his rap video: “Ima never stop running / Call me Forrest Gump, homie.”

Photo by Mackenzie Lad


The mayoral candidates face off at Concordia

Plante and Coderre talked construction, Montreal 375 spending and Bill 62

Montreal mayoral candidates Denis Coderre and Valérie Plante faced off on Monday in the campaign’s only English-language debate.

The Oct. 23 debate was organized and hosted by CJAD, CTV Montreal and the Montreal Gazette at Concordia’s Oscar Peterson Hall. Host and moderator Leslie Roberts presented the candidates with questions based on those submitted to each outlet by Montrealers.

Roberts first asked the candidates how they planned to ease the burden placed on Montrealers by construction. Incumbent Mayor Coderre said his administration’s investment of more than $21 billion in infrastructure over 10 years is “short-term pain, long-term gain,” and “a necessary approach that we have to do for the future generation.”

Plante—the leader of Projet Montréal—criticized what she called “a lack of organization, coordination and communication” in construction projects. She said the city needs a “quality squad” to ensure projects are done properly and efficiently.

Both candidates promised compensation for business owners who have been negatively affected by construction.

On the topic of public transport, Plante said her proposed pink metro line from Lachine to Montreal North could transport up to 250,000 people per day. Coderre said the light rail system, the Service rapide par bus (SRB) and an extension of the blue metro line are better transit alternatives.

Mayoral candidate Valérie Plante spoke in favour of her proposed metro line at the English-language debate on Oct. 23. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Coderre later responded to criticism about the pit bull legislation he introduced in 2016, saying it’s not about loving or hating dogs but “a matter of public safety.” Plante denounced the legislation, claiming breed-specific legislation creates “a false sense of security,” adding that the legislation is “not even based on science.”

The candidates were then asked about their positions on the renaming of landmarks named after controversial historical figures. Although Coderre said “there are some times where we have to take that kind of decision to recognize the bad things that happened in the past,” he also spoke out against removing John A. MacDonald’s name from buildings and landmarks, saying Canada’s first prime minister “did some great things too.”

Plante said any name changes must be undertaken by “listening, understanding history, connecting with the different communities and finding the proper place for a proper name.”

Coderre was challenged by Plante and moderator Roberts on the lack of English signage on Montreal roads and public transit. Roberts suggested the lack of English signage on Camillien-Houde Way may have contributed to the death of 18-year-old cyclist Clément Ouimet who was struck by a car making an illegal U-turn on Mount Royal on Oct. 4. In response, Coderre said the pictograms along the road were sufficient. “There’s no reason not to understand that a U-turn is illegal,” he said.

On the subject of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, Plante criticized what she called a “lack of transparency” in the way money was spent. “Right now, it is a non-profit organization that manages the money, and so we don’t have access,” she said, referring to the Society for the Celebrations of Montreal’s 375th Anniversary. “We don’t have access to information, we have no idea where things are at. And so people feel like it’s just this big hole that we’re just throwing our money into.”

Plante pressed Coderre to reveal the total ticket sales for the Formula E electric car race that took place over the summer. “Everybody wants to know, and you have the ability to tell us how many tickets were sold,” Plante said. According to Coderre, a report would be released and “it will show that everything is well transparent.”

Incumbent Mayor Denis Coderre was criticized by candidate Valérie Plante for the lack of organization and coordination at Montreal’s construction sites. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Roberts also asked the panelists about the possibility of baseball returning to Montreal, a project Coderre has been advocating for since his election in 2013. Plante said no such initiative would be undertaken by the city without a city-wide referendum.

Both candidates spoke out against Bill 62, which prohibits the wearing of face coverings by anyone giving or receiving a public service. “To provide services with an unveiled person is OK,” Coderre said. “But to receive services, I think it’s ludicrous, and it won’t pass the court.” He also criticized Plante for not speaking out against the legislation more immediately. Plante said the law is “ill-conceived. It is not connected to Montrealers’ reality. It is not applicable.”

The candidates also had the chance to ask their opponent one question. Coderre asked Plante whether she was for or against the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Without taking a clear stance, Plante responded with: “I think it is important to understand the international context of this,” adding that it was something that needed to be discussed with “the whole team.”

Plante asked her opponent whether or not he would serve as leader of the opposition if she won the election. “I’m running, and I’m going to be the mayor,” Coderre responded.

Photos by Alex Hutchins

Concordia Student Union News

Montreal to help finance CSU’s co-op student housing

The city will join UTILE and CSU in creating affordable renting rooms

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced on Tuesday, Feb. 7 that the city will help finance the Concordia student housing in collaboration with UTILE (Unité de travail pour l’implantation de logement étudiant) and the Concordia Student Union (CSU).

Laurent Levesque, the general coordinator of UTILE, said the project has been in the works for six or seven years now. “The biggest challenge was to find land and find partners to help finance the project,” said Levesque. UTILE is a non-profit organization with a mission to help develop and promote co-op student housing in Quebec, according to their website. “The building will be ready for students starting June 2018,” Levesque added.

These affordable student housings will be located in the Plateau Mont-Royal, at 3499 Papineau Avenue in front of Lafontaine Park. The building will offer 80 units of different sizes, ranging from studios to two, three and four bedroom apartments. Monthly rent will be approximately $470 per student The housings will be available to Concordia students only.

Coderre was especially impressed with the different initiatives that helped with the creation of the student housing. “We strongly appreciate this community work. It’s created by the students, for the students,” he said. He did not fail thank the Concordia Student Union (CSU) for investing $1.85 million into the project. “We would like to highlight the enthusiasm and the engagement that the Concordia Student Union has showed since the beginning of the project,” Coderre said.

Overtime, the city will be giving $500,000 to the student housing project as it continues to grow. “It is the first time that we see such a big collaboration between the city, the social economy and a student body,” Coderre said.

“I think this collaboration with the city is very exciting and it is huge for the Concordia community,” Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis, the general coordinator of the CSU, told the press. “From the beginning, this was supposed to be a pilot project for other universities and other campuses to realize that a project like this is feasible,” she said.

Montreal currently has more than 300,000 post-secondary students living in the city.

Exit mobile version