Editorial: Why We’re Voting for Projet Montréal

Graphic Graeme Shorten Adams

Bleary-eyed from covering the debates, talking to candidates and breaking down the issues, it’s a bit of a relief that the city will finally go to the polls on Sunday.

As we’ve been covering the race for city hall, we’ve found there’s only one party with a vision that we can support.

And that’s Projet Montréal.

Projet and their mayoral candidate, Richard Bergeron, have a holistic vision for the city, focused on improving the quality of life on the island of Montreal in the long run, and are presenting candidates in every district.

Growing from an environmentalist movement and with a leader holding a PhD in regional planning, we also have high hopes that the party could make much-needed progress on reducing Montreal’s carbon footprint—resulting in a cleaner and healthier city for everyone.

Their transit plan is complete, featuring calls for dedicated bus lanes, a tramway and metro expansion. It’s a clear statement that the city needs to be easier to get around in order to stop families from leaving it for the cheaper homes of the outer suburbs.

Montreal mayoral candidate Denis Coderre said our transit system is already “accessible to all” at a debate held at the Megaphone Montreal speakers’ corner. It makes us think he and his team never use public transit, let alone thought of parents with strollers during rush hour or people in wheelchairs taking the metro.

Coalition Montréal, and its mayoral candidate Marcel Côté, hasn’t presented us with a coherent vision, and we are against Montreal having its own language watchdog, which the party has suggested.

Le Vrai changement pour Montréal—Groupe Mélanie Joly’s platform doesn’t offer us anything enticing that we don’t also find in Projet’s platform, and while very well presented, her party’s platform doesn’t seem to extend much further than the buzzwords of bus-rapid-transit lines and open data.

With Joly’s candidates running in only half of Montreal’s districts, much of the city won’t even have the chance to elect her candidates to the city or borough councils.

Coderre says we need to stop beating ourselves up over the corruption issue, but we simply don’t trust a party with so many ex-members of Union Montréal—a party often named at the Charbonneau Commission.

Coderre has argued that it is unfair to imply guilt by association, but those with clean hands were blind to their party’s corruption. After two mayors resigned in shame, we simply cannot afford to have city representatives who were either oblivious or keeping quiet about breach of public trust.

In contrast, Projet Montréal has a vision that can actually turn the page on this dark chapter in the city’s history. Plans for a better public transit system and creating new, affordable neighbourhoods where old rail yards currently stand gives us hope that the exodus of families off the island will slow down.

It was also Projet Montréal that led a charge to repeal amendments made to bylaw P-6 during the Maple Spring.

We aren’t without our own reservations for Bergeron as mayor, however. As the mayoral candidate with the most city hall experience, he’s clearly been working out his detailed plan for this city for years.

But if things don’t fall into place like he thinks they will, how will he follow through on his lofty goals? As his competition has pointed out, Bergeron’s platform is highly ideological, and this might hinder any compromise with those who aren’t part of the Projet caucus.

Some of Projet’s goals are extremely ambitious, long-term projects that will require substantial funding from the federal and provincial governments. But if someone was going to fight for project funding for the island of Montreal, we want it to be Bergeron, who points out that billions have already been spent to largely benefit car commuters on the South Shore.

We need city leadership that has a detailed vision for the city that goes beyond a few buzzword promises. As students, we are this city’s future.

We need to elect a municipal government with the long term in mind, with great goals worthy of this great city.

We need to vote for Projet Montréal.