Third-place Bergeron “extremely happy”

by Irwin Block
The Gazette
published, Monday, November 07, 2005

Richard Bergeron was on the edge of a breakthrough last night that could have put him in city hall, though not as mayor.

The founder and leader of Projet Montreal came a distant third in the mayoral contest, with 26,723 votes.

But Bergeron’s running mate, Carl Boileau, was more than 350 votes ahead in the fight for a council seat in the de Lorimier district of Plateau Mont Royal borough, meaning Bergeron is likely to have a seat on council.

A huge cheer went up about 10:30 p.m. and cries of « Richard, Richard » reverberated from the 150 supporters at a community hall on Panet St. as the results became clear.

With half the votes counted, it also looked like Projet Montreal’s Emilie Thuillier was headed for victory as borough councillor for de Lorimier district.

« I am extremely happy with the results, » Bergeron said before the final result was in.

« I hoped for three to five seats, and we appear to have won two. We called for 10 to 15 per cent of the vote, and we appear to have won nine per cent.

« And we did it with limited means, » he boasted.

Party president Claude Mainville said the party had run 70 candidates in eight boroughs on a budget of only $52,000.

Mainville said this is the first time he can remember an election campaign based on the transportation issue. « It’s the end of Vision Montreal and the beginning of Projet Montreal, » he said, taking a shot at former mayor Pierre Bourque’s party.

Bergeron, however, said he planned to work on a broad range of issues, not just transit.

« For example, we will insist on zoning plans that include housing for the poor before developers are allowed to go ahead with projects. »

Bergeron, 50, is an architect, urban planner and academic. He took a leave of absence from the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, which oversees transit in Greater Montreal, to found the party and promote his ideas.

He entered the race with the hope of building a political force for the next municipal election, in 2009. The plan was to inherit an opposition role if Bourque failed to win and dropped out of municipal politics.

« We want to be there to pick up the baton and eventually be the official opposition, » Bergeron said during the campaign.

To do so, he drafted a program pegged to green issues, like sustainable development and expanding public transit with light-rail tramways.

Bergeron proposed massive investment in public transit to create a modern tramway system, costing $10 billion. He also pledged to update the metro with elevators to enable handicapped people and seniors to use the subway system more easily, and cut the cost of the monthly transit pass to $40 from $61.

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