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Valérie Plante out to early lead in Montreal mayoral race

Valérie Plante is returning as mayor of Montreal. Plante, the incumbent and the leader of Projet Montréal, beat out her rival Denis Coderre.

Valérie Plante celebrates re-election in Montreal

Addressing a crowd of supporters, she said this result proves that “you can lead the city of Montreal with a smile.” 3:35

Valérie Plante waved, laughed, flexed her arms, and jumped up and down as she took to the stage Sunday night to deliver her victory speech.

Plante spoke in front of a boisterous crowd at Olympia Theatre, after being re-elected as mayor of Montreal Sunday night.

“Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first mayoress in the history of Montreal and tonight they are saying, once again, ‘Yes, this mayoress, we want to continue working with her and we trust her,'” Plante told supporters gathered at the downtown theatre.

“Montrealers confirmed 2017 was not a fluke, but the beginning of an era … and that you can lead the city of Montreal with a smile.”

Plante, the leader of Projet Montréal, led by more than 13 percentage points, with 52 per cent of the vote, over her rival and predecessor, Denis Coderre, who had 37.5 per cent of votes.

The commanding lead comes after a race in which the two candidates were neck and neck in opinion polls until the last week of the campaign. 

Plante promises greener city

Both candidates promised to create more affordable housing, hire more police officers and put more money into community services and green spaces. 

But Plante, a more progressive option, also said she would pour additional money into public transit and expand the city’s network of bike lanes, as well as put tighter controls on landlords with the cost of housing on the rise. 

Projet Montréal supporters, including candidate Robert Beaudry, centre, celebrate at the Olympia Theatre. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

She presented herself as the best candidate to help the city adapt to climate change, while Coderre said he would take a more balanced approach that would encourage more economic development as the city emerges from the pandemic.

In her speech, Plante promised to make Montreal a greener city, “where there is innovation, affordable homes, safe streets, where green spaces are many and transit is diversified; where the downtown is dynamic and where community life is vibrant.”

Plante also announced Dominique Ollivier, the councillor for Vieux-Rosemont, would be her second-in-command as president of the city’s executive committee, a position previously held by Benoit Dorais. 

“It’s the first time that we’re going to have two women at the head of the city,” Ollivier said in an interview with CBC News. “We’re going to start right away tomorrow working on Montrealers’ priorities, which include housing, security and having less inequality.”

Projet Montréal obtained a majority Sunday night, winning 35 of Montreal’s 65 council seats, more than in 2017. Ensemble Montréal won 24. Before the election, Projet Montréal held 33 seats.

Dominique Ollivier, the city councillor for Vieux-Rosemont, will be the new president of Montreal’s executive committee. (CBC)

Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, who won as borough mayor in Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension, unseating Giuliana Fumagalli, said Projet Montréal owed its success to Plante’s leadership.

“Valérie Plante as the leader of our party really showed that she can work with everyone, that she’s able to bring people together,” Lavigne Lalonde said.

Coderre had branded himself as the more serious and stern candidate, with campaign posters featuring headshots of himself frowning, using decriptions such as “competent” and “passionate.”

Coderre conceded victory shortly after Plante’s speech. 

“Montrealers have made their choice,” he said. “It’s a great disappointment for myself and my team, but the results are clear. You win some, you lose some.”

Coderre said it was “one of the dirtiest campaigns” he had ever experienced, and that he was particularly disappointed by the low voter turnout. According to Elections Montreal, voter turnout was 36.1 per cent, down from 42 per cent in 2017.

He said he returned to politics because of his love for the city.

“I love you all and you have an extraordinary place in my heart,” he said.

WATCH | Coderre concedes, says Montrealers must come together 

Ensemble Montréal leader Denis Coderre delivers concession speech

Speaking to supporters after losing the race for Montreal mayor, Denis Coderre says he believes Montrealers must come together and leave the acrimony behind, especially for the sake of anglophones in the city who “feel alone” right now. 0:47

Coderre congratulated Plante, and gave a nod to Balarama Holness, the third-place candidate, congratulating both him and his candidates for running.

“We need to bring back those bridge builders,” to the English community, Coderre said, alluding to Holness’s vow to have the city designated bilingual.

Newcomer Holness, who ran with his new party, Mouvement Montréal, trailed behind with seven per cent of the vote.

Holness offered an alternative to the two leading candidates, promising to fight the province’s new proposed language law, Bill 96, on behalf of English-speaking Montrealers. He also proposed reallocating money from the police toward community and social services.

Quebec City elects new mayor

In Quebec City, Bruno Marchand has been elected, in a come-from-behind victory over Marie-Josée Savard, who had been endorsed by former mayor Régis Labeaume, who led the city for 14 years. 

CBC/Radio-Canada had projected Savard to win, but the vote results appeared to flip late Sunday night. With all the votes counted, Marchand has 32.3 per cent and Savard 31.9 per cent. Marchand won by 834 votes.

Races in other major cities are shaping up. In Laval, north of Montreal, CBC/Radio-Canada projects Stéphane Boyer winning against Michel Trottier.

CBC/Radio-Canada has also projected former Parti Québécois MNA Catherine Fournier as Longueuil’s new mayor.

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