Plateau embraces projet

by Brenda Branswell,
The Gazette
November 3 2009

Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron leads new councillors Peter McQueen (left) and Carl Boileau for a group photo with other elected members.
Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron leads new councillors Peter McQueen (left) and Carl Boileau for a group photo with other elected members.
Photograph by: Marcos Townsend, The Gazette

Bergeron’s party sweeps all 7 seats in a district that has a history of electing political renegades

It’s a trendy area with a history of being friendly turf for populist parties.

Voters in the Plateau Mont-Royal area have helped elect an N.D.P. member of Parliament and a Québec solidaire member of the National Assembly.

They also famously helped defeat then-premier Robert Bourassa in 1976, opting instead for poet Gérald Godin as the Parti Québécois swept to power.

Plateau voters once again marched to their own drummer Sunday by electing an entire slate of Projet Montréal candidates – the borough mayor, three city councillors and three borough councillors.

“The Plateau is always in the lead. The proof is that they elected me in 2005 and I didn’t even expect it,” said party leader Richard Bergeron yesterday as he met media with Projet Montréal’s winning candidates.

This time out, Bergeron professed not to be surprised by the party’s good fortunes in the Plateau, which was its strongest showing in Sunday’s municipal election.

At the start of campaign planning last winter, Bergeron said the party took for granted that the borough was completely won. “But we said amongst ourselves: ‘don’t be triumphant. Don’t say it too much.’ ”

Newly elected borough mayor Luc Ferrandez had predicted he would win by 50 votes – and finished with a 4,882-vote majority.

Ferrandez said he couldn’t explain the Plateau sweep. “There is something magical in the Plateau Mont-Royal. It’s a population that has often made history.”

Voters in the district make their own electoral choices rather than relying on broader trends, Ferrandez said.

“I think the Plateau historically has often been an avant-garde neighbourhood,” said Alex Norris, a former Gazette reporter and newly elected city councillor for Projet Montréal in the Mile End district.

“It’s been a pre-cursor of things to come,” said Norris, adding that when the now-defunct Montreal Citizens Movement first elected councillors it was in the Plateau and Notre Dame de Grâce districts. “I think we’re actually rebuilding the old progressive base of the MCM,” Norris said.

Veteran municipal politician Michel Prescott lost his re-election bid in the Plateau for the Union Montreal party. Prescott has been elected under different political banners in the borough over the years and says it has always been a progressive place.

“Today it’s another party that was considered by people in the borough as a progressive party that should take over.”

Three parties running in the borough had similar platforms that focused on issues such as traffic-calming, Ferrandez said.

Given the similarities, Ferrandez said he figured that voters would opt more for the party headed to power.

But that didn’t happen.

“The population chose the party that went the farthest with the reform,” Ferrandez said.

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