Some thoughts about the municipal election

Coderre’s party switchers all lost

The day before voting day I said I’d be watching races involving people who switched parties since the last election. Of the 11 who switched to Coderre’s party (most from Projet but others from borough parties), all 11 lost their bid for re-election, either as a councillor or trying to upgrade to borough mayor:

  • Richard Bergeron (Ville-Marie councillor) from Projet to Coderre
  • Michelle Di Genova Zammit (Anjou borough councillor) from Équipe Anjou to Coderre
  • Éric Dugas (Ste-Geneviève borough councillor) from Équipe Richard Bélanger to Coderre
  • Marc-André Gadoury (Rosemont city councillor) from Projet to Coderre
  • Érika Duchesne (Rosemont city councillor) from Projet to Coderre (now running in Villeray)
  • Jean-François Cloutier (Lachine city councillor) from Équipe Dauphin to Coderre
  • Lorraine Pagé (Ahuntsic city councillor) from Vrai changement to Coderre
  • Russell Copeman (CDN-NDG borough mayor) from Coalition to Coderre
  • Réal Ménard (Mercier mayor) from Coalition to Coderre
  • Kymberley Simonyik (Lachine borough councillor) from Équipe Dauphin to Coderre
  • Elsie Lefebvre (Villeray city councillor) from Coalition to Coderre

Those who switched to Projet and were running again were all re-elected.

No opposition for 10 boroughs

Of Montreal’s 19 boroughs, 10 of them elected the same party for every borough-level position — borough mayor, city councillor, borough councillor — making their borough councils a one-party affair. On one hand, it means things going more smoothly, but on the other hand, it means we lose opposition at that level.

Here’s how it breaks down (numbers are Coderre vs Plante unless otherwise noted, and include the borough mayor — in all cases the party with the majority is also the party of the borough mayor):

  • Projet sweep
    • Lachine
    • Plateau Mont-Royal
    • Rosemont–La-Petite-Patrie
    • Sud-Ouest
  • Projet majority
    • Ahuntsic-Cartierville (3 vs 2)
    • Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (4 vs 2, including Marvin Rotrand)
    • Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève (4 vs 1)
    • Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (4 vs 1)
    • Outremont (4 vs 1)
    • Ville-Marie (2 vs 1 among elected city councillors)
    • Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension (3 vs 2)
  • Coderre sweep
    • Montréal-Nord
    • Pierrefonds-Roxboro
    • Saint-Laurent
    • Saint-Léonard
  • Coderre majority
    • Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles (5 vs 2)
    • Verdun (4 vs 3)
  • Borough party sweep
    • Anjou (Équipe Anjou)
    • LaSalle (Équipe Barbe Team)

A good day for media people

Several people with connections to local media were successful in their election campaigns, with one notable exception:

  • Sue Montgomery, former Gazette justice reporter, elected as CDN-NDG mayor
  • Lisa Christensen, CJAD Car Show host, elected as RDP-PAT borough councillor
  • Mike Cohen, The Suburban columnist, re-elected as Côte-St-Luc city councillor
  • Jim Duff, former Hudson Gazette editor and radio host, elected as Hudson city councillor
  • Beryl Wajsman, The Suburban editor, came in third in the Westmount mayor’s race

Say goodbye to Vrai changement

It wasn’t a good day for independents in general. Incumbents Gilles Beaudry, Jeremy Searle, Jacqueline Gremaud and Céline Forget all lost re-election bids as independents. The only person elected at the city or borough level who wasn’t party of Équipe Coderre, Projet Montréal or an incumbent borough-level party was Marvin Rotrand, the only incumbent for Coalition Montreal.

This means Vrai changement pour Montréal, the party started as a vehicle for Mélanie Joly in 2013, and amazingly continued to exist after she bolted for the federal Liberals, has no one in office anymore and will probably cease to exist soon enough.

Same thing for Équipe Dauphin in Lachine, led by former Union Montreal borough mayor Claude Dauphin. Voters there apparently tired of his scandals and went for Projet Montréal instead (which promises to extend its Pink Line métro to Lachine).

Coalition Montréal, which grew out of the ashes of the old Vision Montreal party, is a question mark. Rotrand could keep it alive, as he’s basically done since his former colleagues left for Coderre or Projet, but it’s increasingly clear that this is a party of one. Rotrand, to his credit, hasn’t been willing to set aside his values to join either major party, but that might change once the Coderre team gets a new leader or once being in office pushes Projet Montréal’s plans more into the mainstream.

Diversity still needs some work

If you look at Projet Montréal’s caucus, it’s pretty darn white. It’s not that PM didn’t run candidates from visible minorities, but they ran in boroughs like Montréal-Nord, RDP-PAT and LaSalle where they had little chance of winning.

Meanwhile, Montreal’s elections office put together some demographic information on the election that showed that the majority of elected officials in Montreal are women. That’s great.

Unfortunately, much of that is because of borough councillors — 23 of the 38 borough councillors are women. Women still make up a minority of borough mayors (7/18) and city councillors (22/46). The fact that women still make up a minority of these more powerful positions doesn’t bother me as much as the idea that parties are claiming gender quotas by running women for less powerful ones.

Endorsements didn’t work

La Presse, the Montreal Gazette and Le Devoir all endorsed Denis Coderre for mayor, and got a lot of criticism of that from their readers.

Some of that criticism was unfair, claiming that journalists were intentionally slanting stories to benefit Coderre (which is laughable considering how many of Coderre’s scandals were exposed by those newspapers), or that somehow Plante being elected makes those endorsements wrong (endorsements aren’t predictions).

But some of the criticism was fair, such as how those newspapers’ editorials changed their tone after the election making it seem as if Plante’s election was fantastic.

There’s a debate to be had about newspapers endorsing candidates, but if you allow them to have opinions on society’s issues in general, why not on this?

Surprise of the night

Ed Janiszewski, mayor of Dollard-des-Ormeaux for 33 years, losing his bid for re-election to Alex Bottausci.

Bergeron, huh?

There’s a lot of irony in the fact that Richard Bergeron, who founded Projet Montréal and was its leader through the 2005, 2009 and 2013 elections, and then jumped to Coderre’s team after getting a seat on the executive committee, lost his city council seat to a Projet candidate.

But then Bergeron is giving interviews all over the place saying he’s actually happy he lost: La Presse, Radio-Canada, CBC, Journal de Montréal, 98.5fm. He’s out of a job, and it seems he’d like to work with the new administration in some way. Whether the party is willing to take him back is another question.

Some introspection

CDN-NDG city councillor Lionel Perez, who was just voted in as interim leader of Équipe À Renommer, put an essay on Facebook about why he thinks his team lost:

It comes down to them not doing a good enough job of defending their record, and in general having a poorly organized campaign that underestimated their opponent.

Kids, amirite?

Apparently they like pools and arenas and don’t really care about public transit.

6 thoughts on “Some thoughts about the municipal election

  1. Michel

    As someone who was involved in municipal politics in Montreal for over 25 years and who had to deal at various times with many ship jumpers including the King of all Party Switchers, Pierre Gagnier, I can respect someone who leaves on a question of principle but when it is clearly opportunistic, I have no sympathy, respect or patience.

    Elsie Lefebvre was a great city councillor for Villeray but her departure for Équipe Coderre was less a surprise and more of a disappointment. She ran a campaign putting the emphasis on the local while distancing herself from Coderre. And if Radio-Canada reports are to be believed, Lefebvre was even telling anti-Coderre voters to cast their ballot for her and at the mayoralty for Valérie Plante.

    Seeing as municipal politics are less ideological and more practical, party switchers are just one of those things that have to be expected. But eventually they get their comeuppance.

  2. Marc

    Endorsements are meaningless nowadays. Every major US newspaper endorsed corrupt Hillary and we saw how that worked out. The Gazette’s was strange – listing all the nonsense Coderre did then saying he deserves another term. La Presse’s was gushing and fawning to the point it became nauseating. And Le Devoir’s was just bizzarre.

  3. Michael Black

    Beryl Wajsman was a distant third, getting 528 votes. “The third guy”, Patrick Martin, got 1878 votes, a tiny bit over half the votes that Christina Smith got.

    Five councillors in Westmount are women, versus three men. I’m not sure if that’s ground-breaking, though Smith is the first woman mayor of Westmount. And apparently the first black member of city council was elected.

    Beryl Wajsman was like a parachuted candidate, even though he lives in Westmount. He might have had better success if he’d done things in Westmount previously. People have tried for city council after being active in some way before, figuring that being on council might help the issue they were concerned with. That would have helped counter the notion of someone carpet bagging. After the election, its like he was never there.


    1. Marc

      I’m not sure if that’s ground-breaking, though Smith is the first woman mayor of Westmount.

      Nope. May Cutler from 1987-91


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