Commissioners at the English Montreal School Board, elected less than a month ago, have already started back-stabbing, alliance-breaking and back-room dealing.
I don’t blame you if you slept through it, but yesterday was school board election day across the province. Turnout in English boards (which have a much smaller electorate because you have to specifically request to be added to it) was low, about 10-30%. Turnout for the French boards was comically bad, in the low single digits.
That probably had something to do with the fact that there were no issues in this election, nobody knew anything about the candidates, and school boards are powerless to make any meaningful changes about how our kids are educated anyway.
Still, for those who care (the immediate families of the candidates come to mind), here’s a quick breakdown of what happened.
English Montreal School Board
- Spiridigliozzi: Wards 8, 11, 15, 21, 22, 23 (plus 16, 17, 18 and 20 by acclamation)
- Barbieri: Wards 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14
- Mancini: Wards 1, 4, 7, 10, 19
- Independents: None
The EMSB election, as Henry Aubin explained it, was a battle between chairman Dominic Spiridigliozzi (whose team had a slim majority on the board) and Rocco Barbieri and Angela Mancini, who work together and whose candidates did not compete against each other for seats. Despite having four candidates elected through acclamation (including Spiridigliozzi himself), the team managed to win only 10 of the 23 board seats, with the rest going to Barbieri and Mancini’s teams. This will represent a major shift in the way this board is governed.
Spiridigliozzi lost 3 incumbents: vice-chair Elizabeth Fokoefs (NDG Ward 3), Daniel Andrelli (St. Henri/Point St. Charles/Westmount Ward 6) and George Vogas (Plateau/Park Ex Ward 13)
Two of the races were extremely close (close enough that judicial recounts have been ordered): Rocco Barbieri won by a margin of only seven votes: 319-312. Julien Feldman (also on Barbieri’s team) defeated incumbent George Vogas in Ward 13 by only six votes: 319-313, with 52 votes going to independent Adam Beach. (A second independent, Ilias Hondronicolas, dropped out.)
As for Bryce Durafourt, who I had high hopes for, he received only 49 votes against Barbieri’s Liz Leaman (454) and Spiridigliozzi’s Mario Pasteris (200).
Lester B. Pearson School Board
Not as fun to analyze as the other board because there weren’t any declared teams and there were only seven races. Two incumbents, Howard Solomon (who’s been there 14 years) and Don Rae (a one-time incumbent whose website is filled with stock photos of smiling kids), lost their seats.
Commission scolaire de Montréal
Wow. You can’t go wrong with a 100% victory, but that’s exactly what the MEMO group did here, picking up 13 acclamations and winning all eight contested elections against independents. Even Dominique Cousineau, whose campaign apparently consisted of pointing out that her opponent was named Mostafa, won her board seat. I can’t find a list of the vote totals (though with a turnout of less than 4%, maybe they’re embarrassed to show them).
Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys
List of winners (PDF, apparently scanned from an old fax machine)
With 20 of 21 seats contested, this board’s election was the most active. Diane Lamarche-Venne was the big winner, picking up 14 seats of the 19 her candidates ran in (including herself and one candidate who was elected through acclamation). Jocelyne Bénard-Rochon, who ran 17 candidates, only saw three victories, and lost her own seat to a Lamarche-Venne candidate.
Surprisingly, four independent candidates, three of whom ran against at least one of the parties, also picked up seats: Guylain Desnoyers, Jean-Guy D’Amour, Sonia Gagné-Lalonde and Sarita Benchimol (the latter ran in Cote-St.-Hamp-West, which didn’t see any party candidates).
The turnout was also abysmal here, at just over 3%.
This week, I talked with Bryce Durafourt (above), who’s running in the school board elections for the English Montreal School Board in TMR/Saint-Laurent. He’s 20, a McGill microbiology student, curler, and ran for city councillor the 2005 municipal election in Saint-Laurent, only to come dead-last as the only independent candidate.
Also this week (though not online) is an explainer about the status of the Canadian dollar, which is constantly hitting new highs compared to the U.S. dollar. It also mentions the situation in Zimbabwe, home of the least-valued currency in the world and one of the worst examples of hyperinflation since the 1940s.