I hope the mainstays of Projet Montréal made the most of the holiday break to recharge their batteries. The next few months will be very demanding for them. We should not forget that the coming year is one of municipal elections across Quebec.
While waiting to see how this vast operation will be organized in a context of a pandemic and who will be the opponents who will compete with the team in place, we must come back to the major challenge that awaits Valérie Plante: to curb the crisis as quickly as possible. internal that affects his party.
PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, PRESS ARCHIVES
The Mayor of Montreal Valérie Plante
The departures and transitions of the past few months have weakened the image of Projet Montréal. They also diminished his power. Valérie Plante’s party is now one seat away from losing a majority on the municipal council.
If we withdraw the vote of the president, Suzie Miron (called to vote in the event of a tie), and that of a vacant position, this gives 32 seats to Projet Montréal and 31 to the opposition formed by Ensemble Montreal (18), Team Anjou (2), Team Barbe (3) and eight independent advisers.
It would therefore suffice for a single elected representative from Projet Montréal to leave the party and sit as an independent to upset the fragile balance that currently exists.
It is the recent departures of Christine Gosselin and Christian Arseneault, who now sit as independents, that created this precarious situation. In total, four elected from Projet Montréal left the party or were excluded from it in 2020.
In end of year interview with the newspaper Metro, Valérie Plante replied by recalling that it was also necessary to look at Ensemble Montreal, which has lost nine elected over the past three years. The latter preferred to go into politics in Ottawa or Quebec, a few wished to join the ranks of Projet Montreal.
One factor could have an influence on the division of power at the municipal council and this is the position that is still to be filled in Saint-Léonard-Est. Vacant since the resignation of Patricia Lattanzio, elected to the House of Commons in October 2019, this position was to be filled in a by-election in March 2020. But now, the pandemic has come to slow down this democratic exercise.
Together Montreal, the official opposition, is calling for a ballot as soon as possible in this district of 30,000 inhabitants. A motion was tabled to that effect last fall. It didn’t work.
For the elected officials of Saint-Léonard, it is obvious that the Plante administration has no desire at all to trigger an electoral process in this bastion held mainly by Ensemble Montreal. For its part, the mayor’s office defends itself by saying that it would be irresponsible to hold this election while the pandemic is experiencing a new outbreak. It should be noted that our American neighbors held elections across the country in the context of a pandemic.
This precarious situation does not bode well for the months to come. Valérie Plante needs to have free rein to get her ideas across. Above all, it needs latitude to properly manage the health and economic crisis that is hitting the metropolis hard.
The other not insignificant aspect of this crisis affecting Projet Montréal is the erosion of its membership. Last October, Radio-Canada reported worrying data. Of the 5,000 members that the party had just before the November 2017 elections, only 2,000 remain. Among the deserters, we find disillusioned young activists who had great hopes in this party.
In this context, the coming months are likely to be very eventful. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Project Montreal departures. But I would not be surprised, either, to attend negotiations to avoid a minority situation for the party of Valérie Plante.
Could Projet Montréal seek independent elected representatives or other parties? It is in the order of the possible. The months leading up to an election often show their warrior spirit.
Valérie Plante will have to prevent the boat from taking on water, while managing the crisis linked to the pandemic, a task she is doing quite well, moreover, by promptly making appropriate requests in Quebec and Ottawa.
She will also have to rebuild her team for the next elections. This operation, already initiated, seems to displease certain elected officials, who note that they are on an ejection seat. Remember the words of Cathy Wong who, to express her desire to see a certain renewal among elected officials, had slipped on a banana peel.
“How can we leave a place for candidates of diversity when elected officials cling to their positions mandate after mandate? », Declared the elected representative of Projet Montreal, referring to the independent advisor Marvin Rotrand, dean of the town hall.
These words went very badly. The person in charge of the fight against racism on the executive committee who shows… ageism. It looks bad. The Ville-Marie councilor had also perhaps forgotten that Marvin Rotrand is part of a minority group and that he is of Jewish faith.
Keep the strong links of the party, put aside those who are weak, seek new faces that will reflect greater cultural diversity (a great concern for the leaders of Projet Montréal) and win back disappointed voters while remaining faithful to ideas and the values of her party, this is the enormous challenge that awaits Valérie Plante this year.