Mayor Valérie Plante wins re-election

Plante enters her second mayoral term with majority support

Valérie Plante won a second term in Montreal’s mayoral race on Nov. 7, earning 52 per cent of the vote. The mayor surpassed her main opponent Denis Coderre by nearly 60,000 votes, and 11 out of 19 boroughs in Montreal will now be governed by Plante’s Projet Montréal party.

In the next four years, the returning mayor promises to improve housing affordability, increase funding for the SPVM, develop more cycling infrastructure and public transit, and also revitalize Montreal’s downtown core.

“We will put all the effort in the world to continue making Montreal a city that we are proud of, where we can raise our children, study, work, and live out our retirement in an active way,” said Plante with a smile during her victory speech.

It was a difficult loss for former mayor Denis Coderre and his Ensemble Montréal party. In late October, the two frontrunners were within one percentage point of each other in the polls, but there was a clear winner on election night as Coderre lost by a 14-point margin.

“The results are clear: you win some, you lose some. But I am very, very pleased I was pushing ideas,” said Coderre at the Ensemble Montréal event on election night. “[…] And I was focusing on the people, because I love the people, I love Montreal and that’s what’s most important — to bring people together!” he exclaimed.

Meanwhile, Movement Montréal’s Balarama Holness, who promised to make Montreal an officially bilingual city-state, came in a distant third place with seven per cent of the vote.

Montrealers, however, did not have a strong showing at the polls, as the 2021 municipal election had a voter turnout of just 38 per cent. The participation rate was four per cent lower than in 2017, despite a larger number of polling stations, mail-in ballots, and the four-day advanced voting.

Michel Bissonnet, mayor of the Saint-Leonard borough, told The Concordian that voting was especially difficult for the elderly population.

“When you’re older and you have to go to vote and you have four [candidates] to vote for, they have four ballots at the same time. It’s easy when it’s a federal or provincial election, it’s one person. But when you get four people, you have to put a picture of the man they recognize — they can’t read, they are not happy,” explained Bissonnet, referencing the fact that voters need to pick the mayor of Montreal, their borough mayor, and city councillors separately.

Unlike the Plante-Coderre race, several boroughs had a very close election that resulted in premature celebrations and recount requests. In Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Ensemble Montréal’s Lionel Perez declared victory over Projet Montréal’s Gracia Kasoki Katahwa on Sunday night, as he was leading in the vote count on Nov. 7. The next morning, however, Katahwa stunned Perez by pulling nearly 200 votes ahead of her opponent by the time all votes had been counted.

In Quebec City, the mayoral race was even more controversial as media outlets made false projections and declared Marie-Josée Savard as the new mayor. Two hours after delivering a heartfelt speech thanking all of her supporters, Savard ended up losing to Bruno Marchand by just 834 votes. TVA Nouvelles and Radio-Canada have since apologized for their decision to call the election prematurely.

As for Montreal, the Plante administration promised its citizens a safer city in its second mayoral term. Projet Montréal is committed to investing an additional $110 million to reduce gun violence, increase the police force by 250 officers, and install body cameras on SPVM agents by 2022.

The mayor also plans to expand Montreal’s blue metro line towards Anjou and build a new line from Montreal-Nord to Lachine — though this promise dates back to Plante’s 2017 campaign and has yet to be fulfilled. Moreover, seniors may be able to ride the STM network free of charge in the coming years.

Other campaign promises include the creation of 60,000 new units of affordable housing, extended operating hours for downtown bars and restaurants, more green spaces, and free parking on evenings and weekends downtown to encourage commercial activities during the holiday season.


Photograph by Bogdan Lytvynenko


Don’t write off your right to vote

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

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