Juliette Côté-Turcotte wants to re-imagine Montreal’s municipal politics
The 21-year-old candidate from the Plateau says her campaign isn’t ‘cute’, it’s necessary
Equipped with a couple friends and a ladder, Juliette Côté-Turcotte put up campaign posters along St-Joseph Blvd. in the Plateau. Her posters stand out among others along the busy boulevard; pictured alone, the greenery of a park in the background, Côté-Turcotte is not affiliated with a party. The 21-year-old candidate is running for city councillor as an independent in De Lorimier, a move she says is essential to bring change to the city.
“I think there’s a real future for independent candidates,” said Côté-Turcotte. “It can help bring a new perspective on how we want to go about politics.”
One of the youngest candidates to be running in Montreal’s municipal elections this fall, Côté-Turcotte says she decided to run as an independent to offer opinions outside of those of Montreal’s two major parties.
“The first goal of an elected official should be to represent the interests of the citizens in their district and not that of a political party,” she said in an Instagram post published Sept. 24.
Backed by a team of volunteers, most of whom are her classmates in political science at L’Université du Québec à Montréal, Côté-Turcotte has built a campaign unlike those of Montreal’s major political parties. From writing her own platforms to designing leaflets and printing them at home, she said her campaign has been an entirely hands-on experience.
“The guiding thread throughout my electoral platform is combating social inequality. Everything comes back to this issue, whether we’re talking about housing or the environment.” — Juliette Côté-Turcotte
“I simply don’t have the same resources as major parties in Montreal,” said Côté-Turcotte. “I’m really happy to do it, but it would be a lie to say it isn’t difficult.”
Michael Chiaponne, Côté-Turcotte’s campaign manager and fellow UQAM student, said Côté-Turcotte spent countless hours researching and building the campaign. Self-defined as her right-hand man, Chiaponne said they’ve hit several bumps in the road, especially when it comes to finances.
“Working with Juliette, I see all the challenging moments,” he said. “But I’m more surprised than anything by Juliette’s capacity to continue to be invested [in the campaign] even after difficulties.”
But Côté-Turcotte’s campaign stands out in more ways than just her independent status. The first pillar of her platform, released as a downloadable pamphlet on Sept. 29, is titled For an Intersectional Feminist City. In it, she defines intersectional feminism as an essential ideology behind her approach to municipal issues. Plans include mental health services for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, and installing gender neutral bathrooms throughout the city.
“The guiding thread throughout my electoral platform is combating social inequality,” she said. “Everything comes back to this issue, whether we’re talking about housing or the environment.”
Côté-Turcotte’s campaign isn’t the first platform she’s used to express her opinions. In an op-ed for Le Devoir published in Sept. 2020, she argues against the privatisation of long-term care homes in Quebec. In the piece, she favors public ownership of CHSLDs, saying profitability “has no place when it comes to taking care of the people you love.”
When it comes to her age, Côté-Turcotte said she’s received mostly positive responses in her district, but that this often shrouds just how hard it is to run for office as a young person.
“I have time, I have support, I was able to move back in with my parents for the campaign,” said Côté-Turcotte. “But not everyone has these same resources and it’s important to understand that.”
“People think it’s fun that I’m running, that it’s cool, that it’s different,” she said. “I’m often told ‘It’s really cute what you’re doing,’ but I think to myself, it’s not cute at all.”