375 years after Jeanne Mance became one of the co-founders of Montréal, the city elected its first female Mayor. It was a historic night as Valérie Plante, the leader of “Projet Montréal”, pulled off an upset and was elected 45th Mayor of Montréal. She defeated one-term incumbent Denis Coderre, making it the first time since the 1960s a sitting mayor was denied a second term.
For months leading up to the campaign and for most of the campaign, nobody taught she had a chance. However, Plante is one for pulling off upset victories. When she entered municipal politics four years ago, she was considered as an underdog as she went up against former PQ cabinet minister and 2009 mayoral candidate Louise Harel. However, she pulled off a victory against the career politician and won the city council seat for the downtown district of Sainte-Marie. In December 2016, she narrowly edged out her main opponent Guillaume Lavoie, another “Projet Montréal” city councilor, to win the “Projet Montréal” leadership election. When she won the leadership, she didn’t have much of a name recognition amongst Montrealers and was considered unlikely to win the mayoralty, especially considering that the incumbent mayor Denis Coderre had 40 point leads in opinion polls. However, in just under one year, the leader of “Projet Montréal” won the hearts of the people of Montréal. After an amazingly fought campaign, and despite all major newspapers and many prominent business leaders backing the incumbent Mayor, Valérie Plante won the mayoralty of Montréal with 51.4% of votes cast against 45.6% for her main opponent Denis Coderre.
Along with her victory, “Projet Montréal” won control of 11 of the city’s 19 boroughs and also won 34 out of the 65 seats in the Montréal City Council. Several high-profile and long-term incumbents from Équipe Denis Coderre were also defeated. Harout Chitillian, the outgoing VP of the executive committee of the city, lost the mayoralty of Ahuntsic-Cartierville to “Projet” candidate Émilie Thuillier. Anie Samson, who had previously served as a city councilor for Villeray since 1994 and since 2006 served as Mayor of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension for 3 mandates, was denied a 4th mandate by a relatively unknown “Projet” Candidate and community organizer Giuliana Fumgalli. Another high profile loss in VSMPE was that of Elsie Lefebvre’s, the VP of the STM, who lost her city council seat to Rosannie Filato, a worker’s rights advocate. And finally, the one-term incumbent Mayor of CDN-NDG Russell Copeman and former Liberal MNA lost his bid for re-election to Sue Montgomery, a former Gazette human rights journalist.
Finally, the November 5th election showed us that nothing should ever be taken for granted by politicians and that citizens have the power change the outcomes of elections, no matter how improbable it may seem.
Written By: Mohammad-Afaaq Mansoor