CDN—NDG Mayoral Candidates Russell Copeman and Sue Montgomery Vie for Your Vote

Can Russell Cope With Another Term Or Will Sue Oust Him?

Russell Copeman of Equipe Denis Coderre and Sue Montgomery of Projet Montreal are running as mayor of CDN-NDG. Photo Kaaria Quash

With the upcoming municipal elections in November, many of you know the names of the candidates, but who are the people behind the faces we see on those posters in the streets?

Two of the candidates running as mayor of the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, are the incumbent Russell Copeman for Équipe Denis Coderre, and first-time runner Sue Montgomery for Projet Montreal.

Sue Montgomery

Running for her first stint as mayor of CDN-NDG, Montgomery is no stranger to the borough. She has lived in NDG for the past 20 years, where she has raised her children.

The 57-year-old mother of two wasn’t always involved in politics. She started out her career as a journalist, where she worked for the Montreal Gazette and the Canadian Press. As a journalist, she has accumulated international experience, covering stories from the earthquake in Haiti to the revolution in Czechoslovakia.

Focusing on social justice issues as a journalist encouraged her to get into politics, Montgomery said. In 2015, she ran for the NDP nomination in the federal riding of NDG-Westmount, but was unsuccessful.

Montgomery thought that she wouldn’t get involved in politics again, but then she met Valérie Plante.

“I thought, this is a woman who is authentic, down to earth, [and someone] I can relate to. She is not a politician,” Montgomery said after a meet-and-greet event on Oct. 18. “That’s what people are hungry for—authenticity. They want to be able to see themselves in the people they elect.

“They want people who tell the truth. They want transparency. And I think that’s what I offer,” she added.

Montgomery does not go without criticism however.

“She’s pretty leftist,” commented Pierre Chauma, who attended a meet-and-greet event with the candidates on Oct. 18. “She’s only talking about bicycle paths and crossings.”

“I think she’s sincere,” said Myrna Lashley, another citizen present at the event. “I think she’ll be good for the borough.”

If she is elected in office, her main goals are to work on reducing the amount of traffic, by opening bike paths that are safe, and getting people to use public transit more often. She also wants to make the environment healthier by focusing on green spaces in the borough.

In an interview with The Link, Montgomery opened up more about herself. “I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, [and] a survivor of rape,” she said.

At the time of the Jian Ghomeshi allegations, Montgomery Tweeted out her own struggles with rape, co-creating the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported in 2014. She was later recognized for this at the 2016 Women’s Y Foundation Distinction Awards, winning the Communications award.

Montgomery has also been subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.

“When you’re a woman, you’re attacked because of your looks, because of your gender. I hope that being in politics, we will change the conversation.” — Sue Montgomery

“When you’re a woman, you’re attacked because of your looks, because of your gender. I hope that being in politics, we will change the conversation,” she said.

Despite all these challenges she has faced, Montgomery has managed to make the most of the situation.

“I am a tough cookie,” she said. “I stand up for myself. And I’m going to stand up for all of you.”

Russell Copeman

Current mayor of CDN-NDG, Russell Copeman is running for another term in office. The 57-year-old said he is proud of his team and the work they have done so far, but stressed that they can always improve their service to the population. He has lived in the borough his entire life, and has also worked at Concordia University as a senior administrator.

Copeman revealed a bit more about his personal life.

“My mother was a single-mom, but died when I was 20. My dad was an alcoholic,” he said at the event.

“My mother, who spoke no French said, ‘Look, if you want to make a life here, you’re going to have to learn French.’ So I went to French immersion,” he added in an interview.

Neither of his parents were university educated, and his mother – who could not afford to send him to university –encouraged him to get a summer job.

Copeman first grew interested in politics as a high school student at the school board level.

“I felt with a certain amount of arrogance and hubris that I could do the job as well as some of the people sitting up there.”

Should he be re-elected, Copeman wants to continue upgrading the infrastructure and continue to clamp down on “delinquent landlords.”

He also aims to put forward a plan of action to reduce poverty in the next mandate.

“I haven’t lived in poverty, but pretty close. And so I have that sensibility. I think we all want to see a better quality of life for our residents.”

“I think Copeman has a better chance,” says André Cardinal. “He’s been around for a long time and people are very much liberal here. But [Montgomery] also has a chance.”

Copeman’s administration has also been criticized by Montgomery for its lack of transparency. He remains confident, however, that he has the competence and experience to continue the work he started.

Election day is set for Nov. 5, 2017. Polling stations nearest to the Loyola campus in NDG are at Les Immeubles Benny Farm on Benny Ave., École Focus Outreach on Coronation Ave., and École Saint-Monica on de Terrebonne St. More information about the election can be found on Élection Montréal’s website.