2021 Quebec municipal elections – Historic Night for Women and the New Generation
On November 7, 2021, Quebecers across the province went to the polls to choose who shall run their cities and municipalities for the next four years. With many heavyweights retiring from municipal politics, this election paved the way for new political breakthroughs across the province.
Montreal – Plante re-elected
Incumbent Montreal mayor Valérie Plante was re-elected with 52.1% of the vote. Plante was first elected in 2017 and became the first woman to serve as mayor of the metropolis. Her party, Projet Montréal, is projected to win a majority of councillors at City Council and ten out of the 19 boroughs in Montreal. Plante was re-elected with a wider margin than the last mayoral election. Plante leads her nearest rival by 57 000 more votes.
Former mayor Denis Coderre lost to Valérie Plante again. Coderre, who was attempting a political comeback after his defeat in 2017, earned just 37.9% of the votes. Coderre’s party, Ensemble Montréal, is projected to become the Official Opposition at the Montreal City Council.
Balarama Holness of Mouvement Montréal, who was hoping to achieve a breakthrough amidst the Plante-Coderre rematch, finished a distant third with just 7.3% of the votes. Mouvement Montréal has failed to elect any borough mayor, city councillor or borough councillor.
Québec City – Huge upset comeback story
After fourteen years of being mayor of Québec City, Régis Labeaume has announced he will be retiring from politics this November. Labeaume’s dauphin, Marie-Josée Savard was initially projected as the next mayor of Québec City. However, after delivering her victory speech, Savard’s 5000-votes lead began to shrink. In a rare twist of events, rival candidate Bruno Marchand managed to come on top of Savard. In the end, Bruno Marchand was declared the eventual victor with 32.3% of the votes. Marie-Josée Savard came at a close second with just 31.9% of the votes.
Despite Bruno Marchand’s surprise victory, his party Québec forte et fière won only 6 out of the 21 seats at the Québec City Council. On the other hand, Marie-Josée Savard’s party, Équipe Marie-Josée Savard is projected to hold 10 seats. Marchand will have to build bridges with other parties to make his promises a reality.
Jean-François Gosselin has announced he will be stepping down as leader of his party Québec 21. Gosselin, who served as Leader of Opposition at the Québec City Council and his party will hold four seats. The left-wing party Transition Québec has projected to win just their first seat in history.
Laval and Longueuil – New generation of politicians
In Laval and Longueuil, two young politicians will lead Quebec’s third and fifth largest cities. In Laval, Stéphane Boyer will succeed the retiring mayor, Marc Demers. At 33-years-old, Boyer will be Laval’s youngest mayor. Boyer, who served as a two-term city councillor, received 41,5% of Laval voters. His party Mouvement lavallois will control City Council with 14 councillors out of 21.
In Longueuil, Independent MNA Catherine Fournier has been overwhelmingly elected as mayor of Longueuil with more than 60% of the votes. Despite being 29-years-old, Fournier is no stranger to politics. In 2016, Fournier made history when she became the youngest woman elected to the National Assembly of Quebec. Fournier’s party, Coalition Longueuil, will be projected to win all but two seats at the Longueuil City Council.
Gatineau and Sherbrooke – Milestone for women in politics
In Gatineau, Independent candidate France Bélisle has been elected as the first female mayor of Gatineau. Bélisle’s victory came as a surprise as she defeated the initial frontrunner Maude Marquis-Bissonnette by more than 3,500 votes.
In Sherbrooke, Évelyne Beaudin has been elected as the city’s first female mayor. Beaudin defeated both former Liberal minister Luc Fortin and incumbent mayor Steve Lussier. The race in Sherbrooke was widely seen as a three-way race between the candidates mentioned above. Beaudin is not the only woman to become mayor of a major city in the Eastern Townships. Two women, Julie Bourdon and Nathalie Pelletier, were both elected mayor of Granby and Magog, respectively.
Return of federal and provincial politicians
Many cities across Quebec saw the return of familiar faces in their municipal politics. Former NDP MP Guy Caron was overwhelmingly elected to become the next mayor of Rimouski. In Repentigny, former Bloc Québécois MP Nicolas Dufour was elected to succeed Chantal Deschamps after serving as mayor for 24 years. In Terrebonne and Saint-Jérôme, former Parti Québécois MNAs Mathieu Traversy and Marc Bourcier were elected as the next mayor of their respective cities.
This year’s municipal elections saw an increase of women and young candidates running for office. In 2017, 32.4% of all municipal elected offices across Quebec were served by women. This year, the number rose to 35.2%. Despite this slight increase, half of the ten biggest Quebec cities will be represented by a female mayor. Three of these large cities will be run by mayors who are less than 35-years-old. In the small village of Chapais, Nord-du-Québec, 21-year-old Isabelle Lessard was elected without opposition to become the current youngest mayor in Quebec. The road to gender equality and age representation in politics may be far, but these elections could serve as an example that it could happen.
By Jacques Wang