A vote for change

by Michelle Lalonde
in The Gazette
november 2, 2009

Labrecque ousted after first-time candidate wins borough mayor’s seat for Projet Montréal

As good news trickled in to Projet Montréal’s Plateau Mont Royal team headquarters last night, volunteers and candidates erupted into cheers of almost equal parts delight and surprise.

Luc Ferrandez, a newcomer to politics and now Plateau borough mayor, had said the race was too close to call right up until his volunteers broke the good news to him at 10:30 last night. Not only was he elected mayor, but most of his team mates in the borough seemed headed for victory as well.

“I am happy and surprised,” Ferrandez said over the din of about two dozen people crowded around computers in a typical Plateau-style apartment on St. Denis St. that served as the party’s headquarters.

“I was not sure if people knew Projet Montréal well enough yet,” said Ferrandez, adding that despite the borough’s sizable debt, his party can and will start to implement a detailed program to reduce traffic and improve quality of life in the borough.

Nima Machouf, co-candidate for Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron, also had a healthy lead in early results last night. As Bergeron’s mayoralty bid faded to black last night, Machouf was on her way to unseating veteran city councillor Michel Prescott of Union Montréal, thus ensuring Bergeron a seat on city council.

“People on the Plateau were ready for change,” Machouf said. “I think Plateau residents are willing to dream and to believe that we can make improvements in our quality of life.”

While Ferrandez and other Projet candidates were mostly well received in Mile End and Jeanne Mance districts, Vision Montreal leader Louise Harel’s ties to the Parti Québécois were expected to serve her candidates well in the easternmost district of DeLorimier.

But as polls closed last night,

Vision’s candidate for borough mayor, Guillaume Vaillancourt, was expressing doubts.

“It will be tight, that’s for sure. Projet Montréal will probably be quite strong on the Plateau because there are a lot of young people living here, and Projet did very well here last time,” said Vaillancourt, who was working for Projet until Harel joined the race in June.

The incumbent borough mayor, Union Montréal’s Michel Labrecque, got some high-profile support in the last days of the campaign from names that play well here, including Vélo Québec director Suzanne Lareau and Robert Perreault of the Conseil regionale de l’environnement de Montréal. But results had Labrecque in third place.

In the 2005 elections, Union Montreal won six of the seven Plateau posts up for grabs, but it was already clear back then that the fledgling Projet Montréal was a force to be reckoned with in this borough. In that election, Bergeron won the DeLorimier city council seat through his co-candidate Carl Boileau, and Projet Montréal candidates came in second in every other race in the borough.

Projet’s promises to reduce commuter traffic through this densely populated borough played well with voters here. Car ownership rates in the Plateau are among the lowest in North America. About half of Plateau residents do not own a car, and studies show that even car owners here tend to walk, cycle or take public transit most of the time.

Longtime city councillor and executive committee member for Union Montréal Helen Fotopulos stepped aside as borough mayor last June in what some called an internal putsch (although Fotopulos insisted her move was voluntary).

After handing the borough reigns to Union’s Labrecque, Fotopulos ran as Tremblay’s co-listed city council candidate in the Côte des Neiges district. She won easily under the Union Montreal banner.

Cette section de mon blogue principal
est dédiée à Josée Legault, inspiratrice de mon cheminement politique.
Puis aussi, à tous les autres journalistes impliqués par le juste récit de notre histoire collective.