Municipal elections are being held across the province of Quebec's 1,110 municipalities today. Voters will elect mayors, and municipal councillors and in some municipalities, borough mayors and borough councillors as well. Additionally, 16 of Quebec's 87 regional county municipalities are having direct elections for their prefect (the leader of the county council). In many of Quebec's municipalities- including 12 of its 13 largest cities, local political parties will be contesting for seats on their respective councils. Elections in those cities often focus on parties trying get a majority of seats on their councils.
Individual parties in Quebec municipalities are often short lived operations, and often are groups pledging support behind one particular mayoral candidate. This can easily be seen in their names, such as “Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal” (Team Denis Coderre for Montreal). In fact, most parties have “Équipe so-and-so” as part of their names (in this post, I usually drop these distinctions for the sake brevity, but some party names are just “Équipe so-and-so”, so I can't always avoid the matter). Anyway, when 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.
Most eyes will be on the mayoral and council race in Quebec's largest city of Montreal, which looks to have an exciting race, if polls are to be believed.
In the 2013 election, former federal Liberal cabinet minister Denis Coderre was elected mayor of the city, winning just 32% of the vote, in a four way race. Coderred defeated future federal Liberal cabinet minister Mélanie Joly (who won 26.5% of the vote), city councillor Richard Bergeron (25.5%) and economist Marcel Côté (12.8%). Coderre's party, the Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal
(Team Denis Coderre for Montreal) won a plurality of seats on council, 26 of 65, seven short of a majority. Even though he finished in third place on the mayoral ballot, Bergeron's party, Projet Montréal (Project Montreal) became the main opposition party on council, winning 20 seats. Côté's party, Coalition Montréal won six seats, and Joly's Vraie changement pour Montréal (True Change for Montreal) won just four seats. Local borough parties and independents won the remaining eight seats. The 2013 election marked the beginning of a new era in Montreal civic politics. From 2002 to 2012 Montreal had been led by Gérald Tremblay, who had to resign following being implicated in the Charbonneau Commission. With his resignation, Tremblay and his centrist Union Montreal party dissolved, making way for Coderre and his new centrist party's election victory.
|2013 mayoral election results by borough
Since the 2013 election, a series of defections to Coderre's party would result in his party forming a majority on council earlier this year. Coderre's party now has 36 seats going into today's election. The opposition Projet Montréal has 19 seats, but has since firmly become Montreal's main opposition party. The other parties have dissolved into small rumps to the point that Vrai changement is not even running a mayoral candidate and Coalition Montréal's mayoral candidate dropped out of the campaign and endorsed Projet Montréal's mayoral candidate, Valérie Plante.
Usually incumbent mayors are re-elected in a cakewalk in their sophomore elections, but with Quebec's unique municipal party system means that this is not always the case. Coderre is facing a stiff challenge from the very formidable Valérie Plante, who has been a city councillor since 2013 and was elected leader of the left-wing Projet Montréal in 2015. She was elected following the departure of the party's founder, Richard Bergeron who left the party and would later join Coderre's party. Throughout the beginning of the campaign, Coderre had a decent lead over Plante in polls, but she has caught up to him, and now the race is neck-and-neck. CROP's last poll, released October 30 gave Plante a two point lead (39% to 37%) over Coderre, with 17% undecided.
One reason for Coderre's polling troubles has been that he is seen as being arrogant, corrupt, authoritarian and divisive, perhaps a throw back to the day's of Montreal's most notorious mayor, Jean Drapeau. To fight back, Coderre has attacked Projet Montréal's financial plan, pie-in-the-sky like promises and Plante's lack of experience.
|Map of Montreal's city council districts used in 2013. The 2017 map saw little change.
In total, 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 not have separate borough councillors. Candidates for mayor of the city often have a colistier (a “running mate”) who run for council in their place. If a mayoral candidate wins, then the colistier is elected to council (providing that the colistier also wins their seat); if they lose, then the mayoral candidate can still sit on council, as long as their colistier won their seat.
In 2013, Coderre's main base of support came from the more suburban parts of the city, especially the north end, an area he represented as Member of Parliament. Joly's personal support came from the urban south end of the city, an area of the city where she managed to win five boroughs, but where her party had won just one actual council seat (and not even her own, where her colistier lost). Bergeron and his party did well in the east end of the city, especially in the notoriously left wing Pleateau Borough. The 2017 election thus begins with the battle lines drawn, and the two main parties will have to fight over the south and central parts of the city where Joly did well. In 2013, Projet Montréal won many of the council seats in this area, but they will need to win almost all of them to get at least a plurality on city council.
Quebec's provincial capital has been led by mayor Régis Labeaume since a mayoral by-election was held in 2007 following the death of the previous mayor, Andrée Boucher. Labeaume is extremely popular, and polls show that he is expected to win once again. His party, the conservative Équipe Labeaume (Team Labeaume) won all but three seats in the 2013 municipal election. Labeaume himself won 74% of the mayoral vote, and his party won 65% of the council vote.
|2013 council results by district
In 2013, Labeaume's party was challenged by the upstart Démocratie Québec (Democracy Quebec), a progressive leaning party, which naturally did not do very well in the conservative city. Labeaume's party won 19 of the council seats, while Démocratie Québec won the remaining three, all in the more left-leaning core of the city.
For this election, there will be three new parties contesting for seats on Quebec City's council. The main competition for opposition status will come from Québec 21 Équipe JF Gosselin, which is the party of Jean-François Gosselin, a former ADQ Member of Quebec's National Assembly. Gosselin's last foray into politics was running in the 2012 provincial election for the Liberals. Gosselin will be running for mayor against Labeaume and polls put him in second place, ahead of Démocratie Québec's mayoral candidate, Anne Guérette, who is currently a city councillor. It will be interesting to see if Gosselin's party can win any council seats, as it is likely Démocratie Québec will still win some of the more urban districts, while Gosselin's support could be more concentrated in the suburbs where Labeaume will still do well.
Laval's council is currently led by former police officer (and former PQ candidate) Marc Demers and his left-of-centre Mouvement lavallois (Laval Movement). Demers and his party were first elected in the 2013 election, replacing the previous Parti PRO des Lavallois regime, which was also dissolved following the Charbonneau inquiry. Laval's mayor had been Gilles Vaillancourt who resigned in 2012, and would later plead guilty of corruption and fraud and sent to prison. The 2013 election was thus a watershed election for Laval, with only three incumbents running for re-election. Mouvement lavallois won the election, winning 18 of the city's 22 seats. The only other party to win seats was the centrist Action Laval, which won two seats. Action Laval's mayoral candidate was former Liberal MNA Jean-Claude Gobé, who lost to Demers 44% to 24%.
Demers and Gobé will once again duke it out for Laval's top job. There are five other candidates running for mayor, including two sitting city councillors, Michel Trottier and Alain Lecompte. Michel Trottier was elected in 2013 as an independent, but has formed a new party called Parti Laval (Laval Party), which includes two incumbent councillors running for re-election. Lecompte was elected in 2013 as a member of Mouvement lavallois, but has also formed a new party, the Alliance des conseillers autonomes (Alliance of independent councillors). There is one other party running in Laval and that is of Avenir Laval (Future Laval), led by Sonia Baudelot.
|Laval's city council districts used in 2013. The 2017 map saw little change.
The 2013 election in Gatineau saw a surprise victory for Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, who defeated incumbent mayor Marc Bureau 53% to 36%. The race was between two centre-left candidates, with Pedneaud-Jobin winning all but one district. Bureau managed to win the city's downtown Hull-Wright District, while Pedneaud-Jobin won everywhere else. Pedneaud-Jobin is the leader of Gatineau's first and only political party, Action Gatineau. While he won the mayoral race in a landslide, his council slate fared less well, winning just five seats. Independents won the remaining 14 seats on council.
For this year's election, Pedneaud-Jobin will be challenged by two of those indpendent city councillors, Denis Tassé and Sylvie Goneau. There was one poll released by Segma Research which showed Pedneaud-Jobin easily defeating Tassé and Goneau, with 53% to Tassé's 24% and Goneau's 14% with 21% undecided. It should be noted though that Segma botched the 2013 race, showing Bureau defeating Pedneaud-Jobin 51%-34%.
|Gatineau's city council districts used in 2013. The 2017 map saw little change.
Four incumbent councillors will be running for re-election for Action Gatineau (excluding Pedneaud-Jobin), while eight independent councillors are running for re-election.
Longueuil will see a changing of the guard in this election, as incumbent mayor and former BQ Member of Parliament Caroline St-Hilaire is not running for re-election. Her party, Action Longueuil which won all but two council seats in 2013 is still in existence though, and is being led by city councillor Sylvie Parent. Running against Parent is another city councillor, Josée Latendresse who was elected in a by-election in 2016 for Action Longueuil, but left the party to sit as an independent. She has formed a new party called Longueuil citoyen (Longueuil Citizen). The third mayoral candidate is former NDP Member of Parliament Sadia Groguhé, who leads the new Option Longueuil party.
Many incumbent city councillors left Action Longueuil and will be running for Longueuil citoyen. Seven incumbents will be running for Longueuil citoyen, while only four are running again for Action Longueuil.
|Longueuil's city council districts
Sherbrooke's council has been led by mayor Bernard Sévigny since 2009 and he will once again be running for re-election. In 2013, he was easily re-elected with 73% of the vote. Sévigny leads the centre-right Renouveau sherbrookois (Sherbrooke Renewal), which was the only major party in the 2013 election. Even so, his party only won 10 of the 20 seats on council, with the remaining 10 going to independents.
This time there will be a more competitive party running against Renouveau sherbrookois. That is of Sherbrooke citoyen (Sherbrooke Citizen), led by former Quebec solidaire candidate Hélène Pigot. They face an uphill challenge as no incumbents will be running for them. In addition, there are three independent candidates running for mayor. For council, there are six incumbents running for Renouveau sherbrookois and seven independent incumbents running for re-election.
|Sherbrooke's new electoral map
Since the last election, Sherbrooke's city council structure will be re-structured. City council will be reduced from 20 to 15 seats (14 districts plus the mayor). Additionally, the city will go from having six boroughs to just four, and will be numbered instead of named. The three-seat Lennoxville Borough Council (now called Borough 3) will be retained, but the Brompton Borough Council has been abolished, as that Borough was merged with the neighbouring Rock Forest—Saint-Élie—Deauville Borough.
Jean Tremblay, who has been mayor of Saguenay since the city's amalgamation in 2002, is finally stepping down. There are four candidates running to replace him, the best known is former Conservative cabinet minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn who is running as an independent. There are two municipal parties running as well and are both running mayoral candidates. The older of the two parties is Équipe du renouveau démocratique (Democratic Renewal Team), which ran in the last election and won two seats. One of those seats was won by Josée Néron who is the party's mayoral candidate. The second party in the city is Parti des citoyens de Saguenay (Party of Saguenay Citizens), which was formed by Mayor Tremblay after the last election. Their mayoral candidate is Dominic Gagnon. Seven councillors who were elected as incumbents in 2013 joined this party and are running for re-election. Five independent councillors are running for re-election. Blackburn was originally going to run for this party, but had a falling out. A fourth candidate running is independent Arthur Gobeil, an accountant. Polling suggests Néron has a bit of a lead over Blackburn with Gagnon in a distant fourth, perhaps due to Blackburn's candidacy. Saguenay City Council has shrunk in size from 20 to 16 seats.
|Saguenay's new electoral map
Mayor Gilles Lehouillier of Lévis Force 10 is running for re-election against André Voyer who was a council candidate for the opposition Renouveau Lévis (Renewal Lévis) in 2013, but is running as an independent this time. Renouveau Lévis still exists, but is only running four candidates for council and are not running a mayoral candidate. Lévis Force 10 have already won 11 seats on council, as in 11 districts their candidates were the only ones to register. Lévis Force 10 did quite well in 2013 winning all but one seat on council, with an independent candidate winning the remaining seat.
|Lévis' city council districts
Trois-Rivières is the largest city in the province with no political parties. There was a fringe party that ran in 2013, but are not running any candidates this time. The city is led by mayor Yves Lévesque, who has been mayor of the city since amalgamation in 2002. The centre-right mayor was re-elected in 2013 over city councillor Sylvie Tardif with 49% of the vote to her 31%. This election, Lévesque is being challenged by city councillor Jean-François Aubin and André Bertrand. Trois-Rivières City council reduced in size from 17 to 15 seats.
|Trois-Rivières city council districts
Long-time mayor and former Tory MP Jean-Marc Robitaille resigned in 2016 following corruption allegations in the fallout of the Charbonneau Commission. He was replaced as mayor by city councillor Stéphane Berthe. Robitaille's party (Équipe Robitaille) won all but two seats in the 2013 elections, but is no longer an active party for obvious reasons.
Berthe is running for mayor under the new banner of Générations Terrebonne (Generations Terrebonne). Two incumbent city councillors will be running for his party, while the remaining incumbents will be running for Alliance démocratique Terrebonne (Terrebonne Democratic Alliance) whose mayoral candidate is Marc-André Plante. A third party was created called Nouvel Élan Terrebonne (New Spirit Terrebonne) and are also running a full slate of candidates, including Valérie Quevillon who is running for mayor.
|Terrebonne's city council districts
In 2013, the race in Saint-Jean was a free-for-all after the departure of mayor Gilles Dolbec. Michel Fecteau was elected mayor of the city with just 22% of the vote, narrowly ahead of former BQ Member of Parliament Claude Bachand at 20%. Two other candidates were right behind Fecteau and Bachand: Alain Laplante won 19% of the vote, and Stéphane Legrand won 18%. The top three candidates in that election will once again face-off for the mayoralty of the city this time.
The council vote in 2013 was split between three parties. Fecteau's party (Parti Fecteau) won six seats on the 13 seat council; Despite finishing fourth in the mayoral election, Legrand's party (Vision Legrand) became the opposition with five seats. Équipe Alain Laplante won just one seat, while an Independent won the remaining seat. Bachand's party, Avec Bachand (With Bachand) was left off of council.
|Saint-Jean's city council districts
Since 2013, Vision Legrand disbanded, with some of its councillors becoming independents and some joining Parti Fecteau. The one independent on council also joined Parti Fecteau. However, some Parti Fecteau councillors left that party. All in all, five incumbent councillors are running for Parti Fecteau, three are running for Équipe Alain Laplante and three are running as independents.
Brossard has been led by mayor Paul Leduc from 1990 to 2001 and since 2009. He was re-elected in 2013 with 65% of the vote against his opponent, Louis Lemoine who won 35%. Leduc's party, Priority Brossard won all but two seats on council, while Lemoine's party, Brossard Revival winning the remaining two.
Leduc will once again be running for re-election. Brossard Revival's mayoral candidate is Jean-Marc Pelletier. In addition to those two, this year's mayoral race has expanded thanks to the addition of a new party, Brossard Ensemble (Brossard Together), led by former Priority Brossard councillor Doreen Assaad. She is joined on the ballot by former NDP Member of Parliament Hoang Mai who is running as an independent.
|Brossard's city council districts
Five incumbent councillors will be running for re-election for Priority Brossard, two are running for Brossard Ensemble (both former members of Priority Brossard), while one councillor is running for re-election for Brossard Revival.
Long-time Repentigny mayor Chantal Deschamps (of Équipe Deschamps) is running for re-election. She will be challenged by councillor Bruno Villeneuve of Parti démocratique de Repentigny-Le Gardeur (Democratic Party of Repentigny-Le Gardeur). Last election, Deschamps won the mayoralty with 62% of the vote against her Parti démocratique opponent, Jean Langlois who won 38%. Deschamps' party won 12 of the 13 seats on council. Only Villeneuve was able to win a seat for Parti démocratique. With Villeneuve running for mayor, Parti démocratique have no incumbents running for re-election in any of the district seats. All incumbent councillors will be running for Équipe Deschamps.
Other major cities:
- Drummondville: Incumbent mayor Alexandre Cusson has been re-elected with no opposition. He was first elected in 2013. There are no parties in Drummondville.
- Drummondville: Incumbent mayor Alexandre Cusson has been re-elected with no opposition. He was first elected in 2013. There are no parties in Drummondville.
- Saint-Jérôme: Incumbent mayor Stéphane Maher has also been re-elected with no opposition. He too was first elected in 2013. His party, Vision Saint-Jérôme is the only one contesting the election, and already have six councillors elected without opposition.
- Granby: Incumbent mayor Pascal Bonin is running for re-election against Yves Bélanger and Carl Bouvier. Bonin was first elected in 2013, when he defeated then-mayor Richard Goulet. There are no parties in Granby.
- Blainville: Blainville will see a re-match of the 2013 mayoral race between mayor Richard Perreault of Vrai Blainville (True Blainville) and Florent Gravel of Mouvement Blainville (Blainville Movement). Vrai Bainville won every seat on council in 2013.
- Saint-Hyacinthe: Incumbent mayor Claude Corbeil faces a challenge from Chantal Goulet. Corbeil was first elected in 2013. There are no parties in Saint-Hyacinthe.
- Mirabel: Incumbent mayor Jean Bouchard of Action Mirbael is challenged by two candidates; city councillor Pierre-Paul Meloche of Mouvement citoyen Mirabel (Mirabel Citizen Movement), an Action Mirabel defector, and René Plouffe who leads Renouveau Mirabel (Mirabel Renewal), who is only running one other council candidate. In 2013, Action Mirabel was the only party in the municipality, winning six of the nine seats. In this election, Action Mirabel are running five councillors for re-election, while Mouvement citoyen Mirabel has one incumbent councillor running.
- Shawinigan: Incumbent mayor Michel Angers is running for re-election against François Bonenfant and Judeline Corriveau. Angers has been mayor since 2009. There are no parties in Shawinigan.
- Dollard-Des Ormeaux: Incumbent mayor Edward Janiszewski is finally facing a credible opposition since being acclaimed to office in 2013. He is challenged by incumbent councillor Alex Bottausci and two other candidates. Janiszewski was first elected in 2005, and has never faced stiff competition for the job in his career. There are no parties in the city.
- Rimouski: Rimouski got a new mayor last year when its mayor, Éric Forest was appointed to the Senate. Forest was replaced by city councillor Marc Parent, who will be running to keep his job. He will be running against city councillor Pierre Chassé and two other candidates. There are no parties in Rimouski.
- Châteauguay: Châteauguay mayor Nathalie Simon of the Citizens' Action party is being challenged by Vision Châteauguay candidate Pierre-Paul Routhier and independent councillor Steve Brisebois. Simon has been mayor of the city since 2009. In 2013, the Citizens' Action party was the only party running, and won six of the nine seats on council. The remaining three independents formed the new Vision Châteauguay party, and with one floor-crosser have four city councillors running for re-election against just three for Citizens' Action.
- Mascouche: Incumbent mayor Guillaume Tremblay of Vision Démocratique de Mascouche (Democratic Vision of Mascouche) is being challenged by two independent candidates, François Collin and Line Lavallée. Tremblay was first elected in 2013, when his party won every seat on council defeating Équipe Luc Thériault. Now, Vision Démocratique is the only party in the city, and have already won six seats on council due to acclamations.
- Victoriaville: Former BQ Member of Parliament André Bellavance was easily elected in a rare mayoral by-election in 2016. He will be running for re-election against Jean Roy. There are no parties in Victoraville.
- Saint-Eustache: Incumbent mayor Pierre Charron of Option Saint-Eustache is being challenged by city councillor Julie Desmarais or Renouveau Saint-Eustache (Renewal Saint-Eustache) and Robert St-Germain of Accès Saint-Eustache (Access Saint-Eustache). Charron has been mayor since 2005, and was easily elected in 2013 when his party was the only one in town. His party won all but two seats on council. One of those two his party did win was won by Desmarais, who ran as an independent. All but one incumbent councillor running for re-election is running for Option Saint-Eustache, with the remaining councillor running as an independent.
- Rouyn-Noranda: Incumbent mayor Mario Provencher is running for re-election, and will be challenged by four other candidates. Provencher was first elected in 2009, and was easily re-elected in 2013 with 80% of the vote. This time he faces stiff opposition from city councillors Diane Dallaire and Philippe Marquis. There are no parties in Rouyn-Noranda, though Provencher had his own party in 2013 where he was the only candidate.
- Boucherville: Incumbent mayor Jean Martel is running for re-election against Monique Reeves. Martel has been mayor of the city since 2009, and leads the only party in the city, Option Citoyens Citoyennes (Citizens Option). In 2013, his party won every seat on city council. In this election, his party has already won two seats due to acclamation. Every incumbent running for re-election, save one is running for his party, while one incumbent is running as an independent.
- Sallaberry-de-Valleyfield: Long-time mayor Denis Lapointe is not running for re-election, leaving this race open. City councillor François Labossière is running against Joanne Brunet and Miguel Lemieux. There are no parties in Valleyfield.
- Vaudreuil-Dorion: Mayor Guy Pilon of Parti de l'Action de Vaudreuil-Dorion (Vaudreuil-Dorion Action Party) is running for re-election against Pierre Séguin, leader of “Team we are”. In 2013 Parti de l'Action was the only party running, and won all but one seat on council.
Among the 16 races for regional county municipality (RCM) prefects, the two largest RCMs are Montcalm and Les Pays d'en Haut, both of which are located north of Montreal. In Les Pays d'en Haut, Wentworth-Nord mayor André Genest takes on Martin Nadon, Marie-Claire Vachon and Guy Vandenhove for the top job. In Montcalm, Saint-Calixte mayor Louis-Charles Thouin has been acclaimed as prefect.
Polls close across the province at 8pm.