Sunday, November 3, 2013

Quebec municipal elections today

Municipal elections are being held across the province of Quebec's 1,111 municipalities today. Voters will elect mayors, and municipal councillors and in some municipalities, borough mayors and borough councillors as well. In many of Quebec's municipalities- including its 11 largest cities, local political parties will be contesting for seats their respective councils. Elections in those cities are all about the parties trying get a majority of seats on their councils. Most councils are elected using the first past the post electoral system.

Individual parties in Quebec municipalities are usually short lived operations, and often groups pledging support behind one particular mayoral candidate. This can easily be seen in their names, such as “Equipe Denis Coderre pour Montreal” (Team Denis Coderre for Montreal). If parties are unsuccessful they will often disband as soon as the election is over, and new ones will be created for the next. Municipal parties can sometimes be ideological, but are often just supporters of a particular mayoral candidate. None have official ties to federal or provincial parties, but many often draw their support from the same voters.

It has not been a good four years for municipal politicians in Quebec. Corruption scandals have plagued the mayorships in both Montreal and Laval. In Montreal, Mayor Gerald Tremblay resigned in November of 2012 following corruption allegations, and was replaced by Michael Appelbaum, who became the city's first Jewish mayor. However, Appelbaum was no saint either, and was arrested in June after charges of fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust and corruption. Applebaum would then be replaced by Laurent Blanchard, who has survived until now as mayor. In Laval, Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt who had been mayor for 24 years, and whose party held every seat on council also resigned in the Fall of 2012 following allegations of corruption. In May, Vaillancourt was arrested and charged with gangsterism. Vaillancourt's successor Alexandre Duplessis also left office, in May, also following corruption allegations, when he asked for the city to be placed under trusteeship. Nearly the entire council was implicated in the Charbonneau Commission in May for corruption. Since May, the mayor of Laval has been Martine Beaugrand. She was one of only two councillors to have not been implicated in the Charbonneau Commission.


Montreal's municipal districts

The 2013 election marks the beginning of a new era in Montreal civic politics. Gerald Tremblay had been mayor of the city for 10 years before his resignation in 2012. Also gone with him was his political party, the centrist Union Montreal which formally dissolved in May. The party had won a majority of seats on Montreal City Council in the last election- 38 of 65. When the party dissolved, most of the members became independents before reorganizing into the new political parties.

Current incumbent city councillors

At present there are eight political parties represented on Montreal City Council, five of which are single-borough parties (they only run candidates in one specific borough of the city) and three hold seats in multiple boroughs. Those three parties are Equipe Denis Coderre pour Montreal (Team Denis Coderre for Montreal), Coalition Montreal, and Projet Montreal (Project Montreal). Each of those three parties are led by a leader who is also each party's mayoral candidate. Each mayoral candidate runs in a typical city-wide mayoral race, but also has a home district that they run in. Should a mayoral candidate lose the mayoral race, they can still sit in council if they are elected in their district. If a candidate is elected mayor, then their “running mate” (also known as “co-candidate” or “fellow candidate”) becomes councillor of their district, if the mayoral candidate also wins their district.

Montreal City Council is made up of 65 members, which includes a mayor, elected city wide, 18 borough mayors elected from 18 of the 19 boroughs (Ville-Marie has no borough mayor) and 46 councillors elected from 46 districts across the city. In addition, Montreal voters will be electing 38 separate borough councillor positions. These separate borough councillors are not members of city council, but often represent the same parties. Some boroughs have their city councillors as also borough councillors, and therefore do no have separate borough councillors.

Equipe Denis Coderre is the party of former federal Liberal MP Denis Coderre who resigned his seat in the House of Commons in June to concentrate on his bid for mayor. His party is mostly made up of former Union Montreal members, as both parties are generally aligned with the Liberals. Equipe Coderre's incumbent councillors are mostly from areas that are strong Liberal areas (such as the north end), with high percentages of Anglophones and Allophones. His party currently holds 17 of the 65 seats on council. Coderre is running in Ovide-Clermont District which is in Montreal-Nord borough, the same area he represented as an MP. Currently, his party is the largest on council, and Coderre is leading the polls in the race for mayor. A CROP poll from October 15 showed him at 41%.

Coalition Montreal is a new party which formed in July to support the mayoral bid of Marcel Cote, an economist and founding partner of SECOR. The 71 year old Cote ran for the Union Nationale in 1973, but has since worked for former Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. His past affiliations indicate that Cote is a centre-right candidate, but his party comes from a merger of independents and Vision Montreal, which was a centre-left party that formed the official opposition on Montreal City Council in 2009. Vision Montreal had attracted mostly sovereigntist voters, who backed the mayoral candidacy of Vision's leader, Louise Harel- a hardcore separatist (and former PQ MNA) whose English skills were poor. Not surprisingly, most of Coalition Montreal's incumbent candidates are from the east end of the city, which is where sovereignty has the most support. But it should be noted that it is not a separatist party, and Cote has few connections to the movement. Cote is running in the district of Cote-des-Neiges, which is currently held by Equipe Coderre councillor Helen Fotopulos. The October CROP poll pegged Cote in 4th place at 11%.

Projet Montreal is the left wing party on Montreal City Council, and has been active since 2004. The party won just one seat in the 2005 municipal election, but increased to 10 seats in 2009. For the third election in a row, their mayoral candidate in Richard Bergeron, the city councillor from Jeanne-Mance in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough, and represented De Lorimier District from 2005 to 2009. Bergeron has come under fire in the past for being associated with the 9/11 truther movement, but despite this is still relatively popular with his urban progressive base. His party currently holds 10 seats, 8 of which are located in the central part of the city. Bergeron will be running in a new district this time, in Saint-Jacques District in Ville-Marie borough, a seat currently held by Coalition Montreal's Francois Robillard. Interestingly, Beregeron's co-candidate is Stephane Dion's wife, Janine Krieber. The CROP poll has Bergeron in 3rd place with 21%.

There is a fourth party that has no seats on Montreal City Council, but whose mayoral candidate may very well finish second. This party is known as “Vrai changement port Montreal” (Real Change for Montreal). The party is generally centre-left, and is led by lawyer Melanie Joly. Joly has most recently served as chief organizer of Justin Trudeau's Liberal leadership campaign last Spring. While she was excluded from the debates, her candidacy has picked up steam, with the CROP poll giving her 24%, which would put her in second place. Joly is running in Notre-Dame-de-Grace, which is currently held by Projet Montreal councillor Peter McQueen. Unlike the other three parties, Vraie changement is not running a near-complete slate, as they are only running in 35 seats.

Outside of the “big four”, there is one other municipal party, Integrite Montreal (Integrity Montreal), led by Michel Brule. They are running in 23 seats. There are also seven independents running for mayor, Claude Blais, Louai Hamida, Paunel Paterne Matondot, Clement Sauriol, Kofi Sonokpon, Patricia Tulasne and Joseph Young. Outside of this, there are 8 parties that are running candidates in lone wards, five of which have sitting councillors. They are Equipe Andree Champoux pour Verdun (in Verdun), Equipe Anjou (in Anjou), Pro action LaSalle (in LaSalle), Equipe conservons Outremont (in Outremont), Equipe Dauphin Lachine (in Lachine), Equipe Richard Belanger (in L'Ile-Bizard-Sainte-Genevieve), Option Verdun (also in Verdun), and the LaSalle Alternative Party (also in LaSalle). Currently, Equipe Anjou, Equipe Belanger, Equipe Dauphin, Pro action LaSalle and Equipe conservons Outremont all hold at least one seat on Montreal City Council. It is indeed possible that there may be at least nine different parties elected tonight.

Results of the 2009 council election

Quebec City

Quebec's provincial capital has been led by mayor Regis Labeaume since a mayoral by-election was held in 2007 following the death of the previous mayor, Andree Boucher. Labeaume is extremely popular, and is widely expected to win once again. His party, the conservative Equipe Labeaume (Team Labeaume) won all but two seats in the 2009 municipal election. Labeaume himself won 80% of the vote. 

Quebec City's 21 Districts

The 2009 election saw the Quebec City electoral map with 27 districts, but the map has been reduced to 21 districts. The city also has six boroughs, but there are no separately elected borough positions. Voters will have one vote for mayor, and one vote for their city councillor.

In 2009, Labeaume and his party faced little opposition. His main mayoral rivals were libertarian radio host Jeff Fillion who won just 8.5%, and Yonnel Bonaventure, leader of Defi Vert de Quebec, the municipal green party- who won 8.1%. On Council, Labeaume's only opposition came from two independent candidates who were elected from the city's central borough, La City-Limoilou. Opposition parties won no seats.

Results of the 2009 council election

Since the 2009 election, Labeaume has campaigned against city unions, and changes in labour laws. His conservative policies have proven quite popular in the centre-right leaning capital. However, his policies have also alienated the left, which is rallying behind the candidacy of David Lemelin, the leader of Democratie Quebec (Democracy Quebec City). His party includes the two independents who won seats in 2009, as well as two defectors from Equipe Labeaume. Polls suggest Labeaume will win in a landslide; Leger released a poll on October 24 that showed Labeaume ahead of Lemelin 67-18 in the mayoral race and Equipe Labeaume ahead of Democratie Quebec 58-21 in the council race.

There are three other candidates running for mayor of Quebec City; Claude Gagnon, Denis Hache and Armand Pare. There is a third party in the city, “Alliance de Quebec” that is only running candidates in Beauport borough. One councillor has already been elected- by acclamation, Steeve Verret of Equiple Labeaume in Lac-Saint-Charles-Saint-Emile District.


Laval's 21 Districts

Laval is the third largest city in Quebec, and Montreal's large northern suburb. Like Montreal, Laval's election this year will mark a new beginning for the city which has been ruled by Gilles Vaillancourt for over two decades. With only two members of the 22 member city council not being named in the Charbonneau commission, the city will be electing a nearly-brand new council. Perhaps a well needed fresh start for the city.

In 2009, every single district of Laval voted for the party of Gilles Vaillancourt, Parti PRO des Lavallois. Only one district, Saint-Bruno in the central part of the city was close. Vaillancourt himself won 61% of the vote. Two parties ran against him, Mouvement lavallois, led by Lydia Aboulian and Parti au service du citoyen, led by Robert Bordeleau. In the mayoral election, Aboulian won 23% of the vote, and Bordeleau won 15%. 

Results of the 2009 council election

There will be five parties contesting the mayorship of Laval. The race will be open, as current mayor Martine Beaugrand has opted to not run for re-election. One councillor will be running for mayor, Claire Le Bel- who leads the Option Laval party. Her political career has been vindicated had recorded one of her meetings with Vaillancourt which was used in the Charbonneau commission, although she is not without baggage, as her former campaign manager has been charged with making a false accusation. Laval's #2 party in 2009, Mouvement lavallois (Laval Movement) will be running again, with police officer Marc Demers as their mayoral candidate. He has previously run for the PQ and there is also some controversy over whether or not he is eligible to be mayor, as he had lived outside of Laval for six months in 2012. The third major party running is Action Laval, led by Jean-Paul Gobe. Gobe is a former Liberal MNA who has since distanced himself with the party.

Laval's #3 party in 2009, Parti au service du citoyen (Party serving the citizen) is also running again. Its mayoral candidate is once again Robert Bordeleau, who has come under scrutiny for owing taxes to Revenu Quebec. The fifth party running is Nouveau Parti des lavallois (New Laval Party), led by Guy Landry. Landry has also come under scrutiny for being asked to repay $40,000 in social assistance money and having half of his candidates leave. Also running for mayor are four independents, Jacques Foucher, Helene Goupil Nantel, Regent Millette and Marc-Aurele Racicot. For city council, there are only three incumbent councillors running, all as independents.

For what it's worth, Leger published a poll October 22 showing Demers in the lead with 21%, Le Bel in second with 14% and Gobe in third with 10%.


Gatineau's 18 Districts

Across the river from Ottawa is Gatineau, Quebec's fourth largest city. And for the first time that I know of, Gatineau will have a municipal political party running a slate in an election. Gatineau's current mayor is Marc Bureau, who has served as mayor since defeating the previous mayor, Yves Ducharme in 2005. Marc Bureau, and the majority of the Gatineau City Council are independents. Bureau has led the city with a pragmatic approach, and is vaguely centre-left.

Bureau is being opposed by a new left wing party known as “Action Gatineau”. Action Gatineau is led by Buckingham city councillor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin. The party will be running a full slate of candidates, including three incumbents, Stefan Psenak in Aylmer, Andre Laframboise in Lucerne, and Mireille Apollon in Oree-du-Parc. It will be interesting to see how citizens of Gatineau react to having a political party on the ballot for the first time.

After Bureau and Pedneaud-Jobin, the third main candidate for mayor in Gatineau is Jacques Lemay, a former fire chief for the city. Also running for mayor is Francois P. D'Aoust. Segma Research released a poll of the race on October 23 that showed Bureau well out in front with 51%, Peneaud-Jobin at 34%, Lemay at 13% and D'Aoust at 2%. For council, Action Gatineau is polling at 30%, compared to 33% for independents. That is not a bad poll number for the new party.


Longueuil's 15 Districts

Quebec's fifth largest city is Longueuil, a South Shore suburb of Montreal. Since 2009, its mayor has been former Bloc Quebecois MP Caroline St-Hiliare. St-Hilaire won the 2009 election, defeating Jacques Goyette of the Parti municipal de Longueuil after he suffered from allegations of improriety. Parti municipal had previously governed the city for 27 years. St-Hilaire's victory was in the form of a minority, as her party, Action Longueuil won just 12 of 27 seats and prevented her from passing her first proposed budget.

During the last 4 years, St-Hilaire's opposition has faded away, and now Parti municipal de Longueuil no longer exists. The only opposition party running candidates in this election is Option Greenfield Park, which is only running in Greenfield Park Borough. They have just one incumbent running. St-Hilaire's only opposition for the mayoralty is from Pardo Chiocchio, a businessman and former president of the South Shore Italians Association.

The size of the Longueuil City Council is being reduced. The 2009 election was fought over 26 Districts, while this election will be fought over just 15. Despite this, there were three districts where the candidates were elected unopposed. Sylvie Parent was elected in Fatima-du Parcours-du-Cerf District, France Dube was elected in Parc-Michel-Chartrand District and Stephane Richer was elected in Des Explorateurs District.


Map of Sherbrooke's electoral districts

Now to Sherbrooke, the capital of the Eastern Townships. The Mayor of Sherbrooke is Bernard Sevigny. He has been mayor since 2009, when he defeated Helene Gravel by just 122 votes. His prospects for this election look a lot brighter, however as he has weak opposition.

Sevigny leads the Renouveau sherbrookois (Renewal Sherbrooke) party. His party's only opposition comes from “Comme une eau Terre” (Earth as Water; play on words, as it sounds like the French word for “Community), a local green party. There are two independents running for mayor, Roy Patterson and Denis Pellerin.

Council is Sevigny's biggest problem. Last election, he only won a minority of seats, but has since picked up some independents. In total, 10 independent councillors are running for re-election, compared to seven for Renouveau sherbrookois. In total there are 20 council seats. In addition, two boroughs (Brompton and Lennoxville) elect separate borough councils.


Map of Saguenay's 19 Districts

In Saguenay, the city which includes the former cities of Chicoutimi, Jonquiere and La Baie, there is a race between independent mayor Jean Tremblay and the opposition party, Equipe du renouveau democratique (Team Democratic Renewal) led by retired accountant Paul Grimard. Tremblay has been mayor of Saguenay since amalgamation in 2002, and before that he was mayor of Chicoutimi since 1997.

Grimard's opposition party is running in 18 of Chicoutimi's 19 districts. However, no incumbent councillor represents the party.


Map of Levis' 15 Districts

Across the St. Lawrence from Quebec City is the suburban city of Levis. The incumbent mayor, Danielle Roy Marinelli will not be running for re-election. Running to replace her are six candidates, three independents and three candidates representing political parties.

The governing party in Levis is Levis Force 10. They are running Gilles Lehouillier as their mayoral candidate. The only other party running a full slate of candidates is Renouveau Levis (Renewal Levis) who are running Antoine Dube as their mayoral candidate. There is also Action Levis, who is running Andre Jean as their mayoral candidate. Only Levis Force 10 is running any incumbent councillors.


Map of Trois-Rivieres' 16 Districts

Trois-Rivieres, in central Quebec is led by independent mayor Yves Levesque. The centre-right mayor has led the city since 2002. He is facing opposition from one opposition party and two city councillors who were in an unofficial group of councillors who would often oppose the mayor.

The only party running candidates in Trois-Rivieres is Force 3R, a fringe centre-right party. They will be running candidates in 10 of the 16 districts in the city, as well as a mayoral candidate, Richard St-Germain. The two city councillors running are Sylvie Tardif (Marie-de-l'Incarnation District) and Catherine Dufresne (Sainte-Margeurite District). Both candidates are on the left, and are accusing each other of splitting the vote. Two other candidates are running for mayor, Pierre Benoit Fortin and Marcelle Girard.


Map of Terrebonne's 16 Districts

This Montreal North Shore suburb is led by mayor Jean-Marc Robitaille. The former Tory MP has been mayor of the city since 1997. His party, Equipe Robitaille (Team Robitaille) forms the government on city council. Robitaille is being opposed by Antoine Hanachian and Renouveau Terrebonne (Renewal Terrebonne) which has no incumbent councillors running. Two districts (4 & 15) have been acclaimed, with the Equipe Robitaille candidates running unopposed there.

Map of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu's 12 Districts

This city southeast of Montreal is seeing eight strong mayoral candidates and six political parties that all have a chance of winning seats. The huge amount of candidates is caused by the incumbent mayor Gilles Dolbec leaving municipal politics, and a free-for-all to take his place.

Perhaps the most notable candidate for mayor of Saint-Jean is Claude Bachand, a former BQ MP. He leads the Avec Bachand (With Bachand) party. Three city councillors are also running for mayor, Alain Laplante (Equipe Alain Laplante [Team Alain Laplante]), Stephane Legrand (Vision Legrand) and Alain Paradis (Equipe Paradis [Team Paradis]). There are two other parties, Parti Fecteau (Fecteau Party, mayoral candidate: Michel Fecteau) and Action civique (Civic Action, mayoral candidate: Jean Lamoureux). Independents running for mayor include Michel Gauthier, Khaled Kalille and Paul Turcotte. Five of the six parties are also running full slates on city council, meaning each district has at least 5 candidates. Only Action civique is not running a full slate, but they are running in 10 of the 12 districts.


Repentigny's 12 Districts

North of Montreal is the suburb of Repentigny. The mayor of Repentigny is Chantal Deschamps, who has been in power since 1997. Her party is Equipe Deschamps (Team Deschamps) which holds a majority on council. She is being opposed by Jean Langlois, the mayoral candidate for Parti democratique de Repentigny-Le Gardeur (Repentigny-Le Gardeur Democratic Party). Parti democratique is running one incumbent councillor, in District 9, Serge Gauthier. The rest of the incumbents running are in Equipe Deschamps, except for an independent running for re-election in District 12, Sylvie Langlois Brouillette.


Brossard's 10 Districts

On the South Shore of Montreal, next to Longueuil is Brossard. Brossard's mayor is Paul Leduc. Leduc has been mayor of Brossard since 2009 and was also mayor from 1990 until 2001, when the city was briefly amalgamated into Longueuil. Leduc's party is Priority Brossard, which is also the governing party on city council. Leduc is opposed by Brossard Revival, whose mayoral candidate is Louis Lemoine, the executive vice president of a sustainable energy company. Brossard Revival has no incumbent councillors in the election.

Other major cities:

  • Drummondville: Alexandre Cusson is running against Camille Desmarais for mayor. Neither sit on council. There are no parties in Drummondville.
  • Saint-Jerome: Two councillors are running for mayor, Alain Langlois (Independent) and Martin Pigeon (Ensemble Saint-Jerome). Also running are Yves Charette (Union des citoyens) and Stephane Maher (Vision Saint-Jerome). There is only one incumbent councillor running for re-election, who is running for Vision.
  • Granby: Granby mayor Richard Goulet is running for re-election. Two councillors are running against him, Pascal Bonin and Etienne Jenneau. Also running are Carl Bouvier, Louise Bruneau and Denny O'Breham. There are no parties in Granby.
  • Blainville: Councillor Richard Perreault is running for mayor, representing the governing party of the city, Vrai Blainville. Running against him is the leader of Mouvement Blainville, Florent Gravel.
  • Saint-Hyacinthe: Three candidates are running for mayor, Claude Corbeil, Pierre Rheaume and Gaston Vachon. None are sitting councillors. There are no parties in Saint-Hyacinthe.
  • Shawinigan: Mayor Michel Angers is being challenged by Yves Gelinas and Ronald St-Onge Lynch for the mayorship. There are no parties in Shawinigan.
  • Dollard-Des Ormeaux: Incumbent mayor Edward Janiszewski has been acclaimed back into office. There are no parties in DDO.
  • Rimouski: Incumbent mayor Eric Forest has also been acclaimed back into office. There are no parties in Rimouski either.
  • Chateauguay: Mayor Nathalie Simon is running for re-election, representing the Citizens' Action party which is the governing party in Chateauguay. She is being opposed by Independent candidate Steve Brisebois.
  • Saint-Eustache: Mayor Pierre Charron is running for re-election representing Option Saint-Eustache, the governing party of the city. His opponent in the mayoral election is Independent city councillor Denis Pare.
  • Victoriaville: Mayor Alain Rayes has been acclaimed into office with no opposition. There are no parties in Victoriaville.
  • Mascouche: Running for mayor in Mascouche is Luc Theriault of Equipe Luc Theriault, Guillaume Tremblay of Vision democratique de Mascouche and Independent Pierre Nevraumont. None of the parties have any incumbent councillors running. Only two incumbent councillors are running, and they are both independents.
  • Mirabel: Two city councillors are running for mayor in Mirabel, Jean Bouchard of Action Mirabel and Independent Luc St-Jean. Also running are Independents Felix Daoust and Rene Plouffe. Action Mirabel is the governing party in the city.
  • Rouyn-Noranda: Running for re-election in Rouyn-Noranda is mayor Mario Provencher whose party in Equipe Mario Provencher. However, his “party” has no candidates, and there are no other parties. Running against him is Vuyani Gxoyiya and Richard St-Michel.
  • Boucherville: Mayor Jean Martel is running for re-election against city councillor Francine Crevier Belair. Martel's party, Option citoyen(nes) is the governing party on council. Crevier Belair is an independent.
  • Salaberry-de-Valleyfield: Mayor Denis Lapointe is running for re-election against councillor Robert Savard. There are no parties in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.
  • Sorel-Tracy: Incumbent Mayor Rejean Dauplaise is facing competition from three city councillors trying to replace him, Corina Bastiani, Michele Lacombe Gauthier and Gilles Lemieux. Three other candidates are running in the crowded field, Andre Mandeville, Serge Peloquin and Jean Tremblay. The only party running candidates is Parti d'aujourd'hui, whose mayoral candidate is Corina Bastiani. No incumbent councillors are running for that party however.

That's all the time I have for now. Polls close tonight at 8pm Eastern.

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