by Bonnie Wurst – Special
On November 3rd Montrealers will be heading to the polls to elect the next Mayor of Montreal and City Councillors, Borough Mayors and Borough Councillors. When the nomination period ended on October 4th there were 485 candidates – 302 were men and 183 were women. Of those women still in the running, two are in the race for the position of Mayor of Montreal. The balance, running mostly for Councillor positions are spread out among the 19 boroughs.
Considering that to date there have been no women criminally implicated in the corruption exposed in our city, by the ongoing Charbonneau Commission (chaired by a woman – Justice France Charbonneau), some of these female candidates might just have what Montreal needs – a vision of transparency, a vision free of corruption, a vision to better manage the city and its surroundings and a vision of inclusion for all. And some of these candidates are far more qualified than meets the eye.
Mélanie Joly is among the four front candidates running for Mayor of Montreal and the youngest at 34 years old. She has a law degree from Oxford, worked as a lawyer from 2000 to 2007 at the prestigious law firm Stikeman Elliott and at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, and has an impressive reputation and background in Public Relations. When she entered the race to become the next Mayor of Montreal she was dismissed as someone who would just fade out of the picture – but in the past few weeks she has surfaced as a serious contender. According to the latest CROP polls at the writing of this article, Mélanie is now running only second to Denis Coderre, catapulting past Projet Montreal candidate Richard Bergeron and Marcel Côté of Coalition Montreal.
Her party’s slogan ‘Vrai Changement pour Montréal / Real Change For Montreal’ is beginning to sound like a promise that will be kept – not a simple campaign carrot to be tossed away once it’s all over. Her platform is somewhat the same mantra as the other front runners, but there is something more to her. Although Joly has never run for office before, she has close ties with many seasoned political veterans. She considers former premiere Lucien Bouchard a mentor and longtime friend. She also has federalist ties, acting as the chief organizer of Justin Trudeau’s 2013 Liberal Party leadership campaign and was also part of a special council on the French language under former Premier Jean Charest. She has sat on the boards of the Quebec Pension Plan, the Laval Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the CHUM Foundation, to name a few.
Her team of candidates look like the ‘vrai/real’ Montreal – comprised of women and men of diverse backgrounds and experience, a real United Nations.
The other candidate up for Mayor is Patricia Tulasne, running as an Independent. Although she is more known for her work as an actress and most of her credentials can be found on IMDB, she is also known as a strong woman who carries herself with grace and poise. Patricia is very involved in animal advocacy, has been funding her own campaign and also has a vision to clean up and better manage Montreal. Her campaign slogan is ‘Think, Act, Reinvent Montreal’.
One of the candidates on Joly’s team, Marie-Claude Johnson, running for City Councillor in the CDN/NDG borough, has an impressive political lineage – her father former Premier Pierre-Marc Johnson, as well as her uncle and grandfather, all served briefly as Quebec premier. But there is far more to her. She holds a Bachelor degree of urban planning from Université de Montréal and has been a Political Advisor for the Office of Québec Minister of Finances and Office of Quebec Minister of Economic development.
Émilie Thuillier was elected municipal councillor for the district of Ahuntsic in November 2009. She is now running for City Councillor in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville district for Projet Montréal – Équipe Bergeron team. She holds a Master in Environmental Sciences (UQAM ) and a BA in Geography (UM), has specialized in municipal affairs as a political attaché and has been working on issues of sustainable urban development since 2003.
In the district 4 Kirkland area, running for their City Councillor, Sophie Monsen is another candidate with a vision. She is currently working for the federal government and has a Master degree from the University of Ottawa in Public and International Affairs and a Bachelor degree from McGill University in International Development Studies. Sophie has always been engaged at the grass roots level, having organized many events within her community, including a Women’s Forum. With these credentials, her age of only 23 shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a detriment, but perhaps as a very impressive beginning. ‘Time For A Change’ is her slogan.
From longtime stalwarts like Helen Fotopolus, Michèle D. Biron and Louise Harel (who was an early candidate for Mayor of Montreal, but soon withdrew), to lesser known candidates like Stella Anastasakis and Kristi De Bonville, these women are part of a necessary and growing trend – with the potential to change the face of politics. There are too many to introduce in this article.
Not all are fully qualified at this time for the immediate task at hand, nor have many of them built up as large a portfolio as have most of their male counterparts, but it would be advantageous for us to take the time before voting to learn a little more about them. Perhaps opening up our minds to their visions, their ideas – ideas a lot of Montrealers have of lately given up on or don’t think possible anymore, will offer a beacon of hope and make the impossible, possible again.
These are not women running on a feminist platform, they are very intelligent women with education, determination, experience and a resolve to make things right. They are women of vision for Montreal.
To find out who the candidates are in your borough you can go to the Election Montreal website at: http://election-montreal.qc.ca/index.en.html
There you can look up candidates either by name, borough or alphabetically. Many of them also have their own websites or blogs and with a little Bing or Google you can also find some informative articles.