Montreal seeks a Mayor

Written by  //  November 5, 2013  //  Montreal  //  1 Comment

Bravo to Mélanie Joly and her team for coming out of nowhere (politically speaking) to run a really effective and innovative campaign. Let us hope that Denis Coderre will find a role for her to play and will adopt some of her very good ideas for Montreal. Let us also hope that her young team of professionals will continue to contribute to the renaissance of our beloved city.
We were very sad that Damien Silès was not elected in our district of Peter McGill; he ran a great campaign and espouses important ideas for social change. We hope that  Denis Coderre will reward him with a non-elective post in which he can make them happen.

word cloud for municipal electionsDenis Coderre elected Montreal’s new mayor
Former federal politician wins municipal election
After dominating the polls from the outset, Coderre claimed victory in a tight mayoral race, despite a few surprises from challengers, the resignation of one of his high-profile candidates and the quick-gaining popularity of political newcomer, lawyer Mélanie Joly.
Analysis: Leaders swept out the door
The most sweeping reform of Montreal’s tattered municipal government so far is the one instituted by voters across the city on Sunday Coderre triumphs, but almost by default
Big names fall in Montreal municipal races
Louise Harel, Helen Fotopulos among familiar faces that fail to win council seats
Joly finishes second, but with little to show
No one expected her to rise this far this fast, but on Sunday night, Mélanie Joly proved she belonged in Montreal’s mayoral race
Mild voter turnout early in the day
34.43 per cent of those registered had cast ballots as of 5 p.m. Sunday
Useful election results infographic from Journal de Montréal

My City, My Vote
As we cannot have Naheed Nenshi for our mayor, maybe we could at least adopt some of his good ideas?
Calgary Transit bus to become mobile voting station
Bus will be parked at LRT stations to increase convenience during advanced voting period

1 November
La Presse endorses Coderre
Denis Coderre à la mairie
The Gazette does not endorse any candidate but says “In all cases, Montrealers should vote for the candidates they believe will serve their district, borough and city best. But one thing they might consider is spreading their vote around, voting one way for mayor and another for their city councillor, to ensure a diversity of views on the next council that will help keep the new administration honest and on its toes.”
31 October
Analysis: Stench of corruption clings to mayoral race
For leaders trying to effect change, reform seems slow
28 October
Montreal municipal elections: Gloves come off in ad campaign
In an election race marked by a mostly civil tone between the four main candidates until now, political neophyte Mélanie Joly went on the offensive Monday, releasing a series of radio advertisements in French and English that target Denis Coderre, … “You know what will happen on Nov. 3?,” Joly says in the radio spot. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing, if you vote for Denis Coderre, whose promises to fight corruption aren’t believable.”
25 October
Town hall debate keys on economy, revenue
(The Gazette) Fixing the city’s economic woes and coercing more revenues from Quebec and Canada dominated questions put to mayoral candidates at a town-hall meeting organized by The Gazette and CJAD Radio Friday night.
As in previous debates between Marcel Côté, Mélanie Joly, Richard Bergeron and Denis Coderre, civility ruled, to the point Westmount [Mayor] Peter Trent described the proceedings as a meeting of four candidates “in violent agreement on most things.” They called for change, he noted, as they must, but to him the primordial element was “who of the four will best stand up to Quebec,” a theme that was raised often.
22 October
CBC Montreal mayoral debate with video
CBC and McGill University host a debate between the four main candidates for Montreal mayor
Breaking down the debate — Senior political correspondent Bernard St-Laurent on the mayoral candidates debate.
21 October
Montreal mayoral candidates square off on city’s economy
Richard Bergeron, Denis Coderre, Marcel Côté and Mélanie Joly discuss Montreal’s economic future.
Opinion: Mayoral candidates, let’s get down to business
Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
(Gazette op-ed) For some 15 years, demographic and economic growth in the suburbs has exceeded growth on the island of Montreal. Competition within the region to attract households and businesses is stiff. The island of Montreal is suffering from negative perceptions as to its accessibility, cleanliness, friendliness and affordability. There’s an ongoing exodus for off-island suburbs.
These demographic changes are undermining commercial activity in the heart of the city, both downtown and along traditional commercial arteries. Cultural activities previously concentrated downtown are now finding new audiences in off-island venues. The emergence of dynamic new service centres on the outskirts of the metropolitan region is not a problem in and of itself. The problem lies in the absence of an effective response by central-city authorities, one that addresses the concerns of businesses and consumers.
The current municipal election campaign offers a unique opportunity to address these issues and identify solutions.
20 October
Is Montreal ready for Melanie Joly and real change in the race for mayor?
(Toronto Star) With two weeks left in the race, Mélanie Joly, the youngest of the four aspiring frontrunners to become Montreal’s next mayor, has suddenly gone from “Melanie Who?” to “Melanie #2.”
Mélanie Joly has befriended the Trudeaus, worked under a Molson and taken pointers from former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard. She has a degree from Oxford University and argued the law at the sponsorship inquiry, the federal precursor to Montreal’s current corruption crisis.
Mélanie Joly ne soutient plus Bibiane Bovet «Je préfère m’être trompée sur le passé d’une candidate que je ne connaissais pas plutôt que d’appuyer des candidats dont tout le monde connait le passé.» -Mélanie Joly
15 October
Mélanie Joly could be dark horse in Montreal election
Only 36 per cent of voters polled say they know of Joly, and 17 per cent say they’d vote for her
(CBC) Denis Coderre is still in the lead according to the latest CROP poll commissioned by Radio-Canada, but Mélanie Joly may be best poised to come from behind for a surprise victory.
11 October
Montreal’s mayoral candidates have no mandate to oppose charter: Lisée
Jean-François Lisée, in his role as Parti Québécois minister responsible for Montreal, suggested Thursday that the four main candidates running for mayor of Montreal Nov. 3 have no mandate to oppose the PQ’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values.
Bernard St-Laurent responds: Montreal mayoralty candidates are right to take stand on charter
PQ Minister Jean-François Lisée’s mistaken when he says Jean Drapeau wouldn’t have stepped in
Charte: Lisée critique les candidats à la mairie de Montréal
(La Presse) Le maire que choisiront les Montréalais le 3 novembre ne pourra prétendre que son opposition à la Charte des valeurs reflète la volonté de ses électeurs, affirme, le ministre responsable de la région de Montréal, Jean-François Lisée. Ce dernier suggère aux candidats de s’inspirer de Jean Drapeau et de se taire sur cette question délicate. CTV’s English version is even more outrageous: “He also suggests that the provincial government will be allowed to dismiss whoever is elected Mayor as not having a valid mandate. “When you get to the poll on November third, all those who are in favour of the Charter cannot really make a decision, and the person who will be mayor cannot say ‘I was against the Charter and I beat the guy who was for it so I have a mandate,'” said Lisée.”
4 October
Les programmes des quatre principaux partis montréalais
(Radio Canada) Les principaux candidats aux élections municipales du 3 novembre à Montréal misent tous sur la transparence, l’intégrité et l’éthique. L’amélioration du système du transport en commun est également une préoccupation majeure des partis, tout comme la recherche de solutions pour retenir les familles à Montréal.
Trois des quatre principaux partis en lice pour les élections ont rendu publiques, au cours des dernières semaines, leurs plateformes électorales. Voici leurs principales propositions :

  1. La démocratie municipale et la gouvernance
  2. Les transports
  3. Les familles et la qualité de vie
  4. Le développement économique
  5. L’environnement
  6. La culture

Alexandre Laurent / PhotoNews / Getty Images

Martin Patriquin: Why Montreal won’t get the champion it needs for its next mayor
The city with big problems needs its own Rudy Giulian
Mobsters stuffing cash into their socks, city managers on the take, two mayors in a row driven out of office, the first by revelations of seedy campaign financing, the second by allegations of outright fraud. Montreal, you might say, is having its New York circa 1970s moment: a beautiful, vibrant city brought to its knees by corruption, shabby government and the politics beyond its own borders.
We know what eventually happened in New York: successive mayors, first Ed Koch, then David Dinkins, began the gruelling cleanup of the city before superhero corruption fighter Rudy Giuliani swept in and the city’s fortunes soared. The moral of the story would seem simple: any city with good bones, and Montreal certainly has that, can go from the doldrums to new heights, given the right person at the top.
So with a municipal election looming next month—one that mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron calls “Montreal’s most important election in the last 25 years”—is this the moment Canada’s second-largest city will finally get its champion? There’s certainly a lot at stake for Montreal’s next mayor, set to be elected Nov. 3. He or she will oversee two mega-hospital projects; the revamping of much of the city’s major highways and transportation corridors; the replacement of the ailing Champlain Bridge; and the launch of one of the largest real estate development projects in the city’s history. All while grappling with the grinding corruption many say has become ingrained in Montreal’s governance.
But if there are similarities between the Montreal of today and the New York of three decades ago, there is also one key difference. While Giuliani, like all New York mayors, held enormous political power over the city he governed, Montreal suffers from a radically decentralized system of governance that has spawned a dizzying tangle of bureaucracy. Worse still, over time this mishmash structure has leached power from the mayor’s office to the benefit of Montreal’s 19 boroughs. “Montreal has made itself unmanageable,” says Stephen Leopold, a Montreal real estate magnate who worked for years in New York City.

The Board of Trade sets out some criteria for A new mayor for Montréal
Between now and the November 3 election, the Board of Trade would like to stimulate discussion about particular challenges facing our city and the priorities for our business community.
A New Mayor for Montréal establishes the qualities that the next mayor must have to tackle three major challenges …

‘Obviously, the system is the problem’ (The Gazette) … a pair of observers take the caretaker agenda as a sign that the level of political debate and leadership in Montreal has sunk to an alarming low given the loftiest pledge of anyone vying for the mayoralty is to steer clear of corruption allegations and avoid getting busted by police. … Four months isn’t enough time to embark on an ambitious program of reform, [Warren] Allmand said. However, the problem is that none of the municipal parties or the contenders for the mayoralty in the Nov. 3 municipal election are presenting substantive ideas for reform either. … No more secret meetings: The city council executive committee, which makes most decisions and awards municipal contracts, and borough urban-planning committees, which examine zoning changes, are legislated to meet behind closed doors. Such in-camera meetings are an anomaly in Canada. [Andrea Levy, a long-time municipal activist]… the presidential system of separately electing the mayor is a mistake because it concentrates power in the hands of one person who in turn may be corrupted or weak. Quebecers don’t have the right to recall their mayors, unlike voters in some areas of the U.S. As well, Quebec mayors aren’t subject to term limits, like the U.S. president. Allmand has an opposing view, preferring the separate election of the mayor because it allows electors to split their vote for city mayor, borough mayor and councillor among different parties or slates, which in theory could give rise to more opposition and scrutiny on council. [25 June]

7 October
Marcel who? Anybody But Coderre candidate unknown to half the electorate
Mélanie Joly not included? Mayoral candidates take part in rowdy debate for city’s top job
(CTV) Three top candidates for Montreal mayor took part in a rowdy debate at CTV Montreal studios Sunday night to discuss issues of ethics, quality of life, Anglophones and minorities, and their vision for the future.
Project Montreal leader Richard Bergeron, Team Denis Coderre leader Denis Coderre, and Coalition Montreal leader Marcel Cote butted heads as they interrupted each other to defend their positions.
All three leaders agreed on the urgency to clean up city hall and a special status for Montreal when it comes to a proposed charter of values, but the agreements ended there.
4 October
Deadline today for municipal election candidates
A record 12 candidates running for Montreal mayor
The Montreal elections office said there are 406 candidates for all council positions across the city.
Montreal mayoral candidates are stepping up for culture
Nearly 100,000 people work in Montreal’s cultural sector, a broad category that includes everyone from architects and filmmakers to actors, circus performers and ticket takers. According to a 2009 study by the Chambre de commerce/Montreal Board of Trade, Montreal’s culture industry generates roughly $8 billion a year, or six per cent of the gross domestic product of Greater Montreal.
So culture is indeed a big deal for the candidates vying for the mayor’s job in the Nov. 3 election. Denis Coderre, Marcel Côté, Richard Bergeron and Mélanie Joly have all presented a culture platform, something Brault hasn’t seen in 30 years of pushing for better funding and political leadership on the cultural stage.
26 September
Trouble in the Plateau
Rifts are beginning to show at the core of the left-of-centre Projet Montréal party
(The Gazette) Local merchants and business heavyweights such as the Chambre de commerce have been openly critical of what they see as pro-cyclist, anti-automobile policies adopted by the borough under the charismatic leadership of Plateau mayor Luc Ferrandez. Even residents who applaud many of Projet’s initiatives to extend bike paths, spruce up parks and make the district a cleaner, more pleasant haven at the heart of the city have been known to grumble when it comes time to pay for resident parking stickers — the price has doubled since Projet took office four years ago during — or to navigate bustling streets where traffic patterns have been changed to reduce motorized traffic.

Melanie Joly posterAffichage électoral : Mélanie Joly se démarque
Je ne connais pas grand monde qui apprécie les pancartes électorales. Qu’on les qualifie de pollution visuelle ou tout simplement d’insulte à l’intelligence esthétique, on ne manque habituellement pas de verve pour décrier ce type d’affichage.
N’étant pas une spécialiste en politique, je ne suis pas certaine de l’efficacité potentielle de cette initiative en regard des publics qui « sortent » réellement voter, mais du point de vue de l’image, l’effet est saisissant. À côté des affiches dénuées de toute personnalité que nous font subir les autres candidats, Mélanie Joly impressionne
23 September
CTV: Coderre denies reneging on secret union deal
We are confused – does M. Coderre deny the deal or that he reneged on it?
(CBC) Coderre denies secret deal
Montreal mayoral candidate, Denis Coderre, has rejected allegations of negotiating a secret agreement brokered by a man with linked to the Mafia, to cancel a union demonstration at the office of then-prime minister, Jean Chrétien.
The accusations are made in a new book entitled Syndicalistes ou voyous? — Unionists or Thugs? in English — written by former top union officials, Jocelyn Dupuis and Richard Goyette.
The book claims Coderre arranged a secret meeting with the union officials during the 2000 federal election campaign, when he was a Liberal cabinet minister.
21 September
Montreal mayoral candidates present platforms
Parties kick off Nov. 3 election campaigns
20 September
Les candidats lancent officiellement leur campagne à Montréal
(HuffPost Québec) L’un veut sortir le Vieux-Port du giron fédéral, l’autre veut changer la façon de gouverner Montréal. Un troisième promet une intégrité sans faille s’il est élu à la tête de la métropole, une dernière se dit confiante malgré les puissantes machines électorales de ses adversaires.
18 September
La fille de Pierre Marc Johnson colistière de Mélanie Joly
(La Presse) Pour sa «première expérience en politique active», Marie-Claude Johnson, fille de l’ex-premier ministre du Québec Pierre Marc Johnson, sera la colistière de Mélanie Joly.
Urbaniste de formation, cofondatrice et associée de Hatley, une firme spécialisée en communications stratégiques et en gestion de crise, Mme Johnson se présentera comme conseillère de ville dans le district Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Selon le système électoral en vigueur à Montréal, elle devra céder son siège si elle est élue mais que Mélanie Joly perd la course à la mairie.
From nightlife charter to rapid bus lanes: Mayoral candidate Mélanie Joly unveils platform
Barcelona in Spain has a nightlife charter while Toronto is working on one, she said.
At the top of Joly’s 10-point platform is the call to create a 130-kilometre rapid bus transit system for the city. It would involve the use of bus-only lanes and busses that could control traffic lights. Passengers would pay their fare before they board the bus. Such a system could cost between $5 million and $10 million a kilometre but would be about eight times less expensive than a tramway and 40 times less expensive than a subway system, she said.
10 September
Editorial: Coalition or Vision? Marcel Côté must make a choice
When campaigning began, Vision Montreal began presenting candidates under its own banner in the eastern reaches of the city where Harel, a former Parti Québécois cabinet minister, has an established a following. In these precincts, the logo of Côté’s Coalition pour Montréal logo was only discreetly featured.
The opposite was true in the more anglophone precincts where Harel’s name tends to be mud, thanks to her past as an ardent separatist and the provincial minister who pushed through the ill-conceived island-wide civic merger. There Harel and the Vision Montreal logo were conspicuous in their absence on Coalition pour Montréal banners.
11 candidats rejoignent les rangs de Mélanie Joly
(Journal de Montréal) La candidate à la mairie de Montréal Mélanie Joly a présenté, mardi, 11 nouveaux candidats qui se joignent à son équipe en vue des élections du 3 novembre. La plupart n’ont pas l’expérience de la politique municipale.
Seuls trois candidats ont déjà participé à une campagne électorale municipale. Il s’agit de François Ghali, candidat à la mairie de l’arrondissement de Saint-Laurent, qui a été conseiller municipal indépendant de 1986 à 2002, de Francisco Moreno, ancien président du défunt Parti Ville LaSalle, candidat à la mairie de l’arrondissement de LaSalle, et de Michel Benoît, ancien conseiller municipal de 1986 à 1994, qui se présente comme conseiller dans l’arrondissement de LaSalle.
9 September
The election campaign season is upon us
With fewer than two months to go till Montrealers go to the polls to elect a new mayor, the three main contenders are presenting candidates, stepping up their public appearances and sharpening their rhetoric
Coderre and Projet Montréal have named the most candidates to date, although in several instances Coderre’s team has been coy about specifying which district within a borough a candidate will represent.
Councillors who will be running again include former Union Montreal stalwarts Alan DeSousa and Helen Fotopulos, who have joined Coderre’s team. Marvin Rotrand, the veteran Snowdon councillor who left Union to sit as an independent last fall, helped craft the coalition that brought Côté and Harel’s Vision together. Projet Montréal’s Alex Norris is running again, but will shift from Mile-End to the Jeanne-Mance district where he lives.
31 August
Mayoral candidate Marcel Côté tackles the issues
‘Too many layers and not enough accountability’ (we first read this as ‘too many lawyers’)
((Montreal Gazette) “We have to fix the management of Montreal, the way decisions are taken, the way we have underspent on maintenance and overspent on projects.
“We have to take some of the fat out of city hall, and when you take fat out of an organization you always start at the top. By the top, I mean let’s say the top 300 or 400 civil servants — we have to re-examine all the business practices and ask ourselves do we need to do it that way. In Montreal we tend to blame the boroughs for the problems — I think the problem lies in the central city.”
28 August
Denis Coderre announces five candidates, Projet Montreal’s Richard Bergeron one
… Meanwhile, [Sauvé Scholar alumnus] Guillaume Lavoie, director of a classical college and head of a non-profit organization called Mission Leadership Québec, will run with Projet Montréal in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
27 August
Toward Reform – Focus 2013: Issue of irregularities at Montreal city hall raised in 1990s
A collective soul-searching appears to have begun among the doyens of municipal politics since the resignation of Gérald Tremblay as Montreal mayor in November and the arrest and subsequent resignation of his replacement, Michael Applebaum, on June 17.
Helen Fotopulos, Sammy Forcillo and Peter Trent offer constructive suggestions.
17 August
Mayoral candidates agree city needs change
(The Gazette) The favourites in the race to be Montreal’s next mayor squared off in their first public debate Friday evening, trading barbs and speaking over one another in a spirited and sometimes testy exchange before a sold-out room. There was no clear-cut winner, but there was a common theme — Montreal is in need of significant change.
The youngest contender, 34-year-old lawyer and communications expert Mélanie Joly, admitted she was nervous about confronting her more experienced contenders — Denis Coderre, an MP for the Montreal North riding of Bourassa for 15 years; economist and management consultant Marcel Coté; and Richard Bergeron, leader of the Projet Montréal party and an urban affairs expert. But she held her own, coming out with established ideas like proposing that companies guilty of corruption be given amnesty in exchange for paying fines that would go toward fighting homelessness — and attacking her combatants liberally.
16 August
Alan DeSousa running with Coderre in Nov. 3 election
(The Gazette) Alan DeSousa, mayor of the St-Laurent borough since 2001, announced Friday morning he will run with Denis Coderre’s team in the Nov. 3 municipal election. Formerly a member of the now-defunct Union Montreal party, DeSousa served on the City of Montreal’s executive committee for 11 years, most recently as vice-chairman. He will now be serving as Coderre’s spokesperson on financial matters and said he joined Coderre’s team because of the former liberal MP’s inclusive leadership.
4 July
Aubin: Very odd couple cast a wide net at voters
This week’s political alliance between Marcel Côté, Montreal’s fresh mayoral candidate, and Louise Harel, who has renounced her own mayoral ambitions to join Côté’s coalition, make an odd couple. Really odd.
He’s a federalist. She’s a sovereignist.
He, as a prominent consultant, has been devoted to the business world. She has belonged to the left wing of the social-democratic Parti Québécois.
He was anti-merger. She concocted the merger.
He’s a cautious, analytically minded economist. She allowed improvisation and disdain for studies to hold sway in carrying out the most important chapter in her career — the merger.
New Montreal mayoral hopeful feels Americans are ‘obese, imbecilic, ignorant’
Here’s some Fourth of July news for our U.S. neighbours: a man running for mayor of Montreal considers Americans dumb, obese, imbecilic, classless ignoramuses.
Staunch Quebec independentiste Michel Brûlé announced Thursday his long-shot candidacy for the November election.
The book publisher, writer, and former bar owner says he doesn’t expect English-speaking Montrealers to vote for him – and says he isn’t working to get their support, anyway.
25 June
Laurent Blanchard sworn in as interim mayor of Montreal
Blanchard’s pick to head executive committee is Projet Montréal’s Josée Duplessis
22 June
Cartoon so many mayors Montreal has five possible candidates for new interim mayor
(Global) The winner will become Montreal’s third mayor in a year, after the last two resigned in scandal. There have also been acting mayors.
18 June

Montreal mayor resigns amid corruption charges
Michael Applebaum faces 14 charges, including fraud

In Montreal, Mayor Held on Charges of Bribery
(NYT) Peter F. Trent, the mayor of Westmount, a small city that is part of Montreal’s metropolitan government, said he blamed Montreal’s municipal political parties, a system largely unknown elsewhere in Canada, for the corruption.
“You set up i.o.u.’s when you have a political party seeking funds,” he said.
Because a strong majority of Montreal residents rent rather than own, Mr. Trent said that few of them directly paid property taxes, the city’s only major source of income. Lacking a financial interest, Mr. Trent believes that many Montrealers have become disengaged from the city’s politics.

Rebuilding the city’s image Montreal’s next mayor will need the fortitude of a storybook hero, the vision of Jean Drapeau and the managerial wizardry of New York’s Michael Bloomberg.

New candidate for Montreal mayor: Lawyer Mélanie Jolywhat unfortunate timing for her announcement
Mélanie Joly: It’s time for Montrealers to take back our city
(The Gazette) In the past, Montreal has had some truly visionary leaders. Maybe that is why we decided to trust our politicians and civil servants to run our great city on our behalf. Many of them translated their love for the city into a passion for everything that is Montreal. Others did not — and we have seen the results splashed across our TV screens and our newspapers during the past few months.
We have let our trust in our politicians devolve into a lack of involvement and vigilance. Cynicism is now rampant. We know what happened: corruption and collusion resulted in Montreal overpaying for our critical public works and equally important, for very poor-quality work performed or not performed at all. The deteriorating condition of our infrastructures, streets and water-distribution systems are the not-so-elegant proof of what happens when some take advantage of public trust. It is unacceptable. It is understandable that citizens are angry, disengaged and confused.
Montreal mayor’s arrest prompts province to call for resignation
(CBC) Quebec anti-corruption unit UPAC arrested Michael Applebaum, 2 others this morning
The provincial minister responsible for Montreal, Jean-François Lisée, says Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum should step down following his arrest this morning.
Applebaum faces 14 criminal charges, including fraud against the government, breach of trust, conspiracy and municipal corruption, the provincial anti-corruption unit UPAC said. …
UPAC says the charges relate to obtaining permission and political support for two real estate projects in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough between 2006 and 2011. …
… also arrested Monday morning … Saulie Zajdel, former city councillor and former Conservative candidate in the last federal election in the Montreal riding of Mount Royal. He faces five charges, including breach of trust, fraud against the government, municipal corruption and receiving illegal commissions. Saulie Zajdel’s arrest by UPAC ‘a surprise’ to Conservatives “He did not disclose this to us through the screening process [must have been an oversight], nor did this come up in the background checks.”
4 June
An Anglo mayor in November? It’s possible…
Posted By: Dan Delmar
(CJAD blog) … And then there’s Beryl. I’ve learned that my friend and former editor Beryl Wajsman is being encouraged by a few prominent Anglo business people to run for mayor, assuming that Applebaum stays out. These people seem to be aware of the fact that there really can only be one Anglo candidate. The vote is being split 4-5 different ways already, so if Anglos can all get behind one electable guy, be it Beryl or Applebaum, then there is a real chance of an elected #AngloJewMayor.
It’s going to be a wild and dirty fall political season. Stay tuned.
PS: This 2009 petition supporting a Wajsman mayoral run has nearly 18,000 signatures. Beryl still brings it up casually in our conversations sometimes.
16 May
Denis Coderre makes mayoralty bid official amid protests
‘Real test to come,’ says Vision Montréal’s Louise Harel
[Liberal MP undercuts announcement he’s running for Montreal mayor by registering party three weeks early
While that official announcement is still three weeks away, he’s already got a party name.
The website for Quebec’s elections watchdog says the following name is already registered, and pending authorization: “Denis Coderre Team For Montreal.”] (26 April)

4 May

Rebuilding the city’s image

by Peggy Curran
Honest and true, mighty and bold. A political outsider with a passion for the city and a deep understanding of its complexities.

Montreal’s next mayor will need the fortitude of a storybook hero, the vision of Jean Drapeau and the managerial wizardry of New York’s Michael Bloomberg to help the city triumph over a debilitating corruption crisis, pockmarked roads, decrepit bridges, a bureaucratic tangle and the divisive stammers of a contrived linguistic battle.
Yet with only six months to go before Montreal taxpayers choose the person they expect to lead them out of the dark forest of kickbacks and construction cones, the field is still wide open. Those few candidates who have thrown their names into the hat — or are about to — have yet to rouse widespread enthusiasm.
“They’re not bad people,” a former city councillor said of Vision Montreal’s Louise Harel, Projet Montréal’s Richard Bergeron and Denis Coderre, the Liberal member of Parliament for Bourassa who is widely expected to announce his candidacy on May 16. “But they haven’t said or done anything that makes me want to run out and want to work for them.”
Political analysts, business leaders and community organizers say Montreal desperately needs inspired, unselfish, imaginative and inclusive leadership if it is to climb out of the muck and regain its lustre in time for the city’s 375th birthday — and 50th anniversary of Expo 67 — in 2017.
“Montreal is facing a serious crisis of governance and trust, mediocre performance, major development projects that are late getting off the ground and a tarnished image both at home and abroad,” Board of Trade president Michel Leblanc said when the business group launched an appeal for a new mayor on Wednesday. The chamber of commerce cited three key challenges facing the city and its next leader: “Rebuilding trust between citizens and city hall, establishing strong leadership, which will put the mayor on firm footing with other levels of government, and rebuilding the city’s image.”
The timing of the board’s appeal suggests the business community has yet to be persuaded that the people who’ve expressed an interest in the $156,128 position are up to the task.
But what are the leadership skills Montreal needs most in its next mayor to weather the fallout of the Charbonneau Commission?
“Strength of character, willingness to exert leadership,” said Martin Bergeron of Réflexion Montréal, a think tank he set up with urban analysts last fall. He said tackling corruption and collusion must be Job 1.
“If we don’t deal with that, we don’t get the trust of citizens. How do you move on with spending on projects if people think you are giving money to crooks?”
“Montreal is — or has to be — in a period of reconstruction. For that, it needs a generational change,” said Danielle Pilette, a professor of urban studies at Université du Québec à Montréal. “So Harel and Bergeron are not the answer.”
Pilette is adamant the choice shouldn’t be Coderre, either, or any other minister who blows in from Ottawa or Quebec City.
“It must be someone with a true Montreal outlook … a young leader strongly identified with the Montreal community, not someone who is going to think like they need permission from another level of government. That is what the business community wants.
“Montreal is best when it imposes its vision on other levels of government, rather than the other way around.”
Raphaël Fischler, director of the School of Urban Planning at McGill University, said the next mayor needs to be committed to cleaning up city government and to make it more open and accountable — and the courage to push to make those policy changes happen.
“The new mayor must have a substantive vision for Montreal as a great city and he or she must see and defend Montreal as the cosmopolitan city that it is,” Fischler said.
“We are hungering for a leader,” said Blema Steinberg, an emeritus professor at McGill University, where she taught politics and psychology. “The ideal mayor would be a true spokesman for Montreal, in the way Bloomberg has been for New York. Someone who will really speak for Montreal.”
Martin Bergeron is a policy analyst who left the Montreal Board of Trade to set up Réflexion Montréal. At 43, with a master’s in public policy from Concordia University, he’s a self-proclaimed “policy wonk,” bursting with ideas about what Montreal needs. Things like restructuring city government and boroughs, wrestling with employee pension funds and finding innovative ways to keep young families in the city without turning the metropolis into a suburb.
“It’s not going to be about cutting ribbons and throwing a Christmas ball. It’s going to be a thankless job.”
Bergeron doesn’t hide the fact that he’d also like to run for municipal office, sooner rather than later, ideally alongside a candidate whose political philosophy coincides with his. For the moment, he’s still waiting to figure out who that person might be. [Update: he made his choice and is running for City Councillor in NDG – with Marcel Côté ]
“Louise Harel cannot be the mayor of Montreal,” said Bergeron, who sees her role as Parti Québécois minister for municipal affairs during the forced merger of Montreal and its suburbs as just one factor destined to keep her out of the mayor’s chair.
“The irony is she is the architect of the new city, but she cannot be mayor,” Bergeron said, citing the 71-year-old Harel’s weak English skills and staunch sovereignist beliefs. “The last thing we need is a divisive mayor that can strongly represent one part of the population, but be polarizing to the other ones.”
His namesake, Projet Montréal’s Richard Bergeron, “has some good ideas, but he’s not a realistic politician.” He mentioned the Projet Montréal leader’s position on a proposed 37-kilometre tramway, which he said his administration would build over five years with help from private backers.
As someone who worked on a tram study during his years at the Board of Trade, Bergeron said the claim is unrealistic. “He could knock on all the doors he wants. It would not work. He tends to do that with a lot of projects. They make sense in his mind.”
Of  Coderre, “he has at least one thing going for him: he wants the job!” Bergeron said. “Other than that, we know so little about what he intends to do that it is hard to judge. I guess we will have to wait to see.”
In her 2012 book, Leading So People Will Follow, Erika Andersen calls the longing for good leaders “an ancient primal group survival mechanism,” a need hardwired into our psyche. “When someone is put in the leader’s seat who doesn’t demonstrate the leadership qualities for which we have a kind of built-in radar, that person is unlikely to be effective as a leader.”
Andersen, a leadership consultant who also blogs for, writes much of what she learned about the essential traits of great leaders can be found in the fairy tales she read to her children when they were small — far-sightedness, passion, wisdom, courage, generosity and trustworthiness.
In Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, a 1985 cult favourite endorsed by independent U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot, author Wess Roberts includes tenacity, decisiveness, competitiveness, accountability, credibility and stewardship.
True leaders, Roberts wrote, “must be fearless and have the fortitude to carry out assignments given to them — the gallantry to accept the risks of leadership.”
Emotional and physical strength are also keys to success, he argued. “We must ensure that our leaders have the stamina to recover rapidly from disappointment, to bounce back from discouragement, to carry out the responsibilities of their office without becoming discouraged.”
Roberts also cautions leaders to be on the lookout for backstabbers and mutiny. “Be wise and anticipate the Brutus in your camp.”
In Good to be Great, management guru Jim Collins suggests true leaders are steeped in discipline, organization, follow through, the ability to build a strong team and to keep those people happy and productive.
In Effective Crisis Leadership, the Conference Board of Canada looked at the qualities commonly found in business, political and community leaders who performed best in emergencies as different as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the listeria outbreak at Maple Leaf Foods. “In crisis situations, outstanding leaders are confident and decisive. They make sound and timely decisions. … They give direction when needed and are not afraid.”
Crisis leaders are also good at assessing potential risks, the Conference Board report found, avoiding what Ralph Dunham of Marsh Inc. called “the four degrees of denial: 1. It won’t happen. 2. It won’t happen to me. 3. It won’t be that bad. 4. I couldn’t have done anything about it anyway.”
What is it that separates leaders from followers, bluster from ballast and style from substance? And is there a way to distinguish whether the traits that seem to matter so much on the campaign trail — big promises, polished delivery, shiny hair — will translate into the kind of person who can deliver a balanced budget or stand up to the bad guys?
“People sell us bills of goods all the time. We are such suckers for a charming man,” said Marjorie Northrup, who oversees the Meals on Wheels program at the Volunteer Bureau of Montreal. “I think we need plodders and pencil pushers, boring accountant types. Or are we going to get another Justin Trudeau, someone with charisma?”
“I don’t think Bloomberg would rank very high in anyone’s idea of charisma,” Steinberg said. Nor would Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir, the two female leaders whose careers she studied most closely.
“Maybe that’s the wrong word. Not a Justin Trudeau kind of charisma. It’s not a movie star thing so much as a need to be sufficiently convinced of the rightness of their mission.”
Steinberg said politicians fall into two broad categories — those who enter politics because they have strong convictions and things they want done and pragmatists “who see the job as maintaining good relations” with their caucus and voters — and getting re-elected.
What Montreal needs now, she said, is someone with integrity, a commitment to the city and the ability to attract people around new projects for the city.
“Whether or not we agreed with him all the time, Jean Drapeau had a vision that excited people,” the former city councillor said. “I’d be looking for someone with energy and integrity who really wants to serve the whole city.”
“Who is going to have the courage, desire and stamina to want to do this?” wondered Marguerite Mendell, director of the School of Public Affairs at Concordia University. A social economist, she was impressed with the progressive policies and democracies put forward when Jean Doré and the Montreal Citizens Movement first took office.
“But that whole generation, they are old,” Mendell said. “People enter politics in their 70s, so I am not being ageist. But if you really want to get some 40- and 50-something-year-olds, there aren’t that many people with that kind of experience and credibility.”
Unlike New York City, Montreal doesn’t have a multibillionaire with stellar managerial skills like Bloomberg looking to save the day and if necessary, throw his own money at key projects.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any suitable candidates for the job, provided they were interested.
“Someone like Isabelle Hudon, formerly at the Board of Trade, now at Sun Life — fits the bill perfectly,” Pilette said. She’s also been impressed with Alexandre Taillefer, an entrepreneur plugged in to Montreal’s cultural scene as chair of the Musée d’art contemporain.
Pilette doesn’t see a lack of experience on city council as an obstacle.
“If anything, there may be an advantage to not having been on the inside over the last 10 years.”
Bergeron sees previous political experience as an asset, but not a prerequisite. “Michael Bloomberg, for example, had never done politics before. Yet he is a great and strong leader for New York and no one would dare not listen to him.”
Steinberg would like to see Raymond Bachand, former finance minister who lost the provincial leadership race to Philippe Couillard, take a run at it. “He is someone of proven integrity. … Should he decide to take on the challenge, I think he will demonstrate real leadership ability and strong convictions about where and what Montreal needs to do to clean house and reinvigorate our collective life in this wonderful city.”
So what is it that Montreal will need from this new leader, whoever that man or woman happens to be?
Beyond the obvious need to restore public confidence in the political system, Fischler said the next mayor must take the lead in areas that aren’t strictly municipal concerns, “most notably the abysmal dropout rate in our schools and the poverty trap in which too many residents live.” He also wants the next administration to push for higher standards in real-estate development, architecture and urban design.
“Finally, the new mayor must, at all costs, (be in a) position above the politics of language and be a vocal defender of Montreal as a cosmopolitan city where freedom and creativity matter more than identity and history,” Fischler said. “(The new mayor) must understand that the city owes its past, present and future well-being to its ability to attract people from around the world and give them a tolerant environment in which to interact and to create.”
“Montreal is definitely in the doldrums,” said Steinberg, who noted the harassment of small businesses by Quebec language inspectors has been almost as demoralizing as the revelations of corruption and collusion at the Charbonneau Commission hearings. “The next mayor has to engage English-speaking residents and make them feel they are an integral part of the community.”
For Bergeron, it’s imperative that the next mayor find a way to push harder for Montreal’s concerns, which are often ignored by federal and provincial governments that don’t see political gains in a region where voting patterns have been fairly predictable.
“We are a city of 1.9 million people and sometimes it feels like our priorities are treated not as important as Laval or Quebec City,” Bergeron said. “It’s not enough to send a wish list and then wait for results.”
Still, Bergeron said the next mayor won’t have any clout — in Ottawa, Quebec or with Montreal residents — until people believe he or she is serious about cleaning up the city’s act.
“You’d like to think we wouldn’t have to say: ‘We need elected officials that have ethics.’
Duh. That ought to be a prerequisite and you don’t even have to discuss it. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. If we don’t get the trust of the population, we cannot go forward with major reforms.”

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