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’s rocking professor

Craig Morrison’s band to perform The Roots of Rock and Roll show at Oscar Peterson Hall

Concordia professor Craig Morrison is a jack of all trades. The Concordia professor is an ethnomusicologist who is also a musician, journalist and author. While his job as an ethnomusicologist is to put music in its cultural context, he also has a great passion for playing music himself. Morrison first played in several bands in Victoria, B.C his hometown. He then played in bands in Toronto, and then finally, in Montreal, where he joined the group, The Momentz.

After being the only original member left, the band then became known as Craig Morrison and The Momentz. Morrison has now been playing in the retro band, Vintage Wine, for the past 14 years. Morrison has also written several books, including an Encyclopedia, entitled American Popular Music: Rock and Roll. He is currently in the process of writing another book about the journeys of an ethnomusicologist.

The book, he said, is a combination of autobiography and music history. “I start with something that I experienced myself, like the first time that I went to Memphis to interview Rockabilly musicians,” said Morrison, “And then I’ll expand it to what music was like in Memphis.” According to Morrison, he will be writing about some of the 150 interviews that he has conducted with artists over his lifetime. “Because I’ve interviewed so many musicians, and I’ve seen so many musicians… I go to concerts like some people go to church,” he said. “And I’ve really understood, experienced, tried to promote, all the music that I love.”

Morrison is gearing to perform at one of his highly anticipated events, The Roots of Rock and Roll.  Organized by Morrison every year, the show takes place at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall at Concordia’s Loyola Campus. This event gives Morrison the opportunity to share his knowledge of music with others. “What I’ve come to learn is that I’m an ambassador for music,” he said.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Roots of Rock and Roll. Morrison’s band, Vintage Wine, are the main act of the event, and they are very excited to play, according to Morrison. “It means a lot to them,” he said. “They’re very proud to be up there.” The drummer, Gary Sharkey, has played with Morrison in the band for 14 years. Both the bass player, Ryan Fleury and keyboard/guitar player Alex Nesrallah have been playing with Morrison for 8 years.

Morrison said he will be also be bringing in  14 other musicians to perform as well. According to Morrison, he will bring in Craig Morrison and the Momentz to play and musicians such as John McDiarmid, Samantha Borgal, Pat Loiselle and Terry Joe “Banjo” Rodrigues. “We have, just, a nice mix of people, but we are all friends, and we all love each other, we all have the upmost respect for each other as people and musicians,” he said, “People in the audience see that and feel that, and they’re usually amazed that every year we present an entirely different repertoire, so they appreciate the versatility.” Morrison tackles a different theme for each show, he said. This year, the theme is, ‘Oh Canada, Songs in the Key of ‘Eh?!’ to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary and the 375th anniversary of Montreal.

Craig Morrison is a Concordia professor, ethnomusicologist, journalist and author. Photo by Emily Vidal.

As a tribute to Canada, all of the musicians will be playing songs by Canadian artists. Morrison said Vintage Wine has learned almost all new songs by Canadians just for this show. This includes ‘I’m Moving On,’ by Canadian country singer Hank Snow, and ‘Four Strong Winds,’ by Ian and Sylvia, one of the best known songs written by a Canadian duo, according to Morrison. One of the guests, he said, will be doing a tribute to Leonard Cohen, the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter who passed away last year.

According to Morrison, the focus will not only be on Canadian music, but on earlier folk, rock, pop, country and blues music as well. “I almost never go later than the 70’s. I’ve occasionally dipped into the 1980’s,” he said. “But people know that they’re going to hear a lot of songs that will be nostalgic for them.” This year’s concert will be held on both Friday, Feb 10 and Saturday, Feb 11 to ensure that everyone gets a chance to see them perform. “We tend to sell out every year. So if [people] want to go, they need to get their tickets in advance,” said Morrison. “Saturday is getting close to being sold out already.”

The tickets for the show are on a first come, first serve, basis. The regular fee for the tickets are $30, but students may buy theirs for $18. To reserve tickets, email If you want to see more of Morrison, you can always catch him at The Wheel Club every second Friday of the month, for Vintage Wine’s Rock and Roll Dance Party. Admission for students is $5, while regular admission is $10.

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