Valérie Plante – New Mayor of Montreal!
Valérie Plante – New Mayor of Montreal – It was one of the most hotly debated election campaigns in a long time, but the votes are in and Montrealers have spoken loudly. Valérie Plante has won the municipal election and the Projet Montréal team will now sit as the ruling party in the council chambers at City Hall as of November 16th. Voters wanted change and their message is now clear; they want transparency and they want their communities and the reality of their daily lives and needs to come first – but it doesn’t mean, and has never meant, it would come at the cost of further developments and projects presently in work, as outgoing Mayor Denis Coderre and his aptly named team Équipe ‘Denis Coderre’ was pitching vigorously towards the end of the campaign.
For four years Coderre ruled with one main theme – his way was the only way, even though most Montrealers disagreed with him on many accounts and protested against his policies and projects. He simply ignored them – and on occasion, he literally did so dismissing them with a wave of his hand.
During the election campaign, his supporters rode on the theme that ‘she has no experience’, ‘she couldn’t handle running a city’ or ‘she would turn the city into the Plateau’ – where they believed putting more green spaces and making it more of a priority to accommodate the people who lived there were wrong. They claimed how it was ruining businesses in the borough, even though many merchants stated that although there were some important issues needing to be addressed, they have done well enough under Projet Montréal’s leadership in the borough.
His supporters also claimed she would destroy Montreal’s economy by having no real business acumen – yet the way she ran her campaign and won – clearly proved her ability to run a well-oiled machine. Just like a city should be run. She has surrounded herself with a team of experienced people and professionals, who are more than capable of handling all that Coderre’s team preached she couldn’t. He ventured to say that his relationships and connections to the provincial and federal governments would be lost if she came into power – but in fact, Montreal is an important metropolis to both bodies and it seems highly unlikely she would not be able to maintain those relationships. She might even forge new ones.
Perhaps he should have listened when Montrealers and experts weighed in on many contentious issues – from the granite stumps and Mordecai Richler gazebo fiasco on Mont Royal, to the enormous amounts of money spent on the 375th celebrations – including the urban rodeo and lighting (and re-lighting) of the Jacques Cartier bridge. There was also the Formula E race, which most people didn’t want and where merchants lost money because of the disruption – and he was not transparent in the least when he claimed it was a great success and said ‘mission accomplished’ while refusing to disclose ticket sales. In the end, the truth came out – at least half the tickets were given out for free. They couldn’t fill the stands.
And then there was the ‘Breed-Specific Legislation’, where he steadfastly ignored the cries of pet owners and experts in the field. Well, it came back to bite him.
As for infrastructure and road work, most people understand and agree the work needs to be done, but the way it was organized has left the city in a mess – and will for several more years to come.
Transportation was also a hot issue. There was public transit, where cries from Mayor Coderre for drivers to use the bus and metro the system came regularly. He does not use the very system he preached upon – and never experienced all the delays and breakdowns that left commuters pulling at their hair during rush hours.
As for the proposed extensions of the metro system, Plante’s plan for the new ‘Pink’ line was met with harsh criticism from Coderre’s team, who claimed it was unrealistic and would cost far more than she said. The Blue line, which Coderre promised in his campaign four years ago and never came through with, suddenly appeared again in this campaign. It is a priority and should come before the Pink line – but Projet Montréal maintains its priority as well, with plans to see it through.
Coderre often referred to his long political experience as one of his greatest assets, but in today’s opinion of politicians, with scandals and corruption surrounding them – it might have been seen as a liability. Change has come to Montreal’s Council Chambers. In a stunning majority win, Valérie Plante has become the first elected woman to hold the title of Mayor of Montreal.
Her opponents may have called her ‘unready’ with not enough experience for the job – but it is now clear she was far more ready than they anticipated. During the campaign, Projet Montréal posters went up with the saying ‘The Right Man for the Job’, but they were wrong – she was ‘The Right WOMAN for the Job’. Now the work is cut out for her – as the pressure to deliver on the many campaign promises begins.
Bonnie Wurst – mtltimes.ca