Mon­treal makes his­tory Valérie Plante Mon­treal Mayor

Montreal Times - - Montreal - By: Bon­nie Wurst / mtl­times.ca

It was one of the most hotly de­bated elec­tion cam­paigns in a long time, but the votes are in and Mon­treal­ers have spo­ken loudly. Valérie Plante has won the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion and the Pro­jet Mon­tréal team will now sit as the rul­ing party in the council cham­bers at City Hall as of Novem­ber 16th. Vot­ers wanted change and their mes­sage is now clear; they want trans­parency and they want their com­mu­ni­ties and the re­al­ity of their daily lives and needs to come first - but it doesn't mean, and has never meant, it would come at the cost of fur­ther de­vel­op­ments and pro­jects presently in work, as out­go­ing Mayor De­nis Coderre and his aptly named team Équipe 'De­nis Coderre' was pitch­ing vig­or­ously to­wards the end of the cam­paign.

For four years Coderre ruled with one main theme - his way was the only way, even though most Mon­treal­ers dis­agreed with him on many ac­counts and protested against his poli­cies and pro­jects. He sim­ply ig­nored them - and on oc­ca­sion, he lit­er­ally did so dis­miss­ing them with a wave of his hand.

Dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, his sup­port­ers rode on the theme that 'she has no ex­pe­ri­ence', 'she couldn't han­dle run­ning a city' or 'she would turn the city into the Plateau' - where they be­lieved put­ting more green spa­ces and mak­ing it more of a pri­or­ity to ac­com­mo­date the peo­ple who lived there were wrong. They claimed how it was ru­in­ing busi­nesses in the bor­ough, even though many mer­chants stated that although there were some im­por­tant is­sues need­ing to be ad­dressed, they have done well enough un­der Pro­jet Mon­tréal's lead­er­ship in the bor­ough.

His sup­port­ers also claimed she would de­stroy Mon­treal's econ­omy by hav­ing no real busi­ness acu­men - yet the way she ran her cam­paign and won - clearly proved her abil­ity to run a well-oiled ma­chine. Just like a city should be run. She has sur­rounded her­self with a team of ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple and pro­fes­sion­als, who are more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling all that Coderre's team preached she couldn't. He ven­tured to say that his re­la­tion­ships and con­nec­tions to the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments would be lost if she came into power - but in fact, Mon­treal is an im­por­tant metropo­lis to both bod­ies and it seems highly un­likely she would not be able to main­tain those re­la­tion­ships. She might even forge new ones.

Per­haps he should have lis­tened when Mon­treal­ers and ex­perts weighed in on many con­tentious is­sues - from the gran­ite stumps and Morde­cai Rich­ler gazebo fi­asco on Mont Royal, to the enor­mous amounts of money spent on the 375th cel­e­bra­tions - in­clud­ing the ur­ban rodeo and light­ing (and re­light­ing) of the Jac­ques Cartier bridge. There was also the For­mula E race, which most peo­ple didn't want and where mer­chants lost money be­cause of the dis­rup­tion and he was not trans­par­ent in the least when he claimed it was a great suc­cess and said 'mis­sion ac­com­plished' while re­fus­ing to dis­close ticket sales. In the end, the truth came out - at least half the tick­ets were given out for free. They couldn't fill the stands.

And then there was the 'BreedSpe­cific Leg­is­la­tion', where he stead­fastly ig­nored the cries of pet own­ers and ex­perts in the field. Well, it came back to bite him.

As for in­fra­struc­ture and road work, most peo­ple un­der­stand and agree the work needs to be done, but the way it was or­ga­nized has left the city in a mess - and will for sev­eral more years to come.

Trans­porta­tion was also a hot is­sue. There was pub­lic tran­sit, where cries from Mayor Coderre for driv­ers to use the bus and metro the sys­tem came reg­u­larly. He does not use the very sys­tem he preached upon - and never ex­pe­ri­enced all the de­lays and break­downs that left com­muters pulling at their hair dur­ing rush hours.

As for the pro­posed ex­ten­sions of the metro sys­tem, Plante's plan for the new 'Pink' line was met with harsh crit­i­cism from Coderre's team, who claimed it was un­re­al­is­tic and would cost far more than she said. The Blue line, which Coderre promised in his cam­paign four years ago and never came through with, sud­denly ap­peared again in this cam­paign. It is a pri­or­ity and should come be­fore the Pink line - but Pro­jet Mon­tréal main­tains its pri­or­ity as well, with plans to see it through.

Coderre of­ten re­ferred to his long po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence as one of his great­est as­sets, but in to­day's opin­ion of politi­cians, with scan­dals and cor­rup­tion sur­round­ing them - it might have been seen as a li­a­bil­ity. Change has come to Mon­treal's Council Cham­bers. In a stun­ning ma­jor­ity win, Valérie Plante has be­come the first elected woman to hold the ti­tle of Mayor of Mon­treal.

Her op­po­nents may have called her 'un­ready' with not enough ex­pe­ri­ence for the job - but it is now clear she was far more ready than they an­tic­i­pated. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Pro­jet Mon­tréal posters went up with the say­ing 'The Right Man for the Job', but they were wrong - she was 'The Right WOMAN for the Job'. Now the work is cut out for her - as the pres­sure to de­liver on the many cam­paign prom­ises be­gins.

Va­lerie Plante on the cam­paign trail late sum­mer 2017

Va­lerie Plante on the cam­paign trail late sum­mer 2017

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