Is this former PQ MLA about to become Montreal's new mayor?
On November 1st Montrealers will be heading to the polls and will have the choice of electing Gerard Tremblay to a third term or putting Louise Harel, a former separatist MLA into office. We are now in the dying days of a campaign which seems to have lasted almost a year.
Tremblay has been mired in a scandal related to some of his associates who were awarded a contract to put a new roof on city hall as well as install water metres. It has dogged him over the last year and well into this campaign. As a result, the polls are beginning show he is vulnerable.
According to Angus Reid Strategies, Harel has a significant lead over Tremblay in public opinion. Of those Montrealers who said they were definitely going to vote, Harel garnered 46% support compared to Tremblay's 32%.
The pollster also reports that over 50% of Montrealers who voted Liberal in the last Federal election were dissatisfied with Tremblay's leadership. Considering that the island of Montreal is a Liberal stronghold, this does not bode well for his electoral prospects.
Language is also playing a very large role in this campaign with French speaking Montrealers overwhelmingly supporting Harel, the Vision Montreal candidate, while Anglophones are in Tremblay's camp. Allophones (people whose mother tongue is neither English or French) are also said to be supporting Tremblay, but only by a slight margin.
The issues of transportation (27%) and aging infrastructure (15%) have been top of mind for Montrealers according to Angus Reid Strategies. However, the issue of corruption and transparency (12%) was in a close third place.
Some pundits say the election is closer than it looks with the incumbent having the advantage, while pollsters indicate that it's Harel's to lose.
As part of their election platform, Vision Montreal decided in June that they would continously disclose all campaign donors leading up to November 1st. Anyone wanted to see the full list of contributors can click here. It will be interesting to see if other major political parties also take this position heading into their respective campaigns across Canada.
With Vancouver's Mayor Sullivan leaving politics in 2008 and Toronto's Mayor Miller announcing his retirement, the loss of Tremblay could result in a complete change of leadership in Canada's three biggest cities in a little over two years. If Harel is victorious, she will join Mayor Dianne Watts and Mayor Hazel McCallion as one of only three female mayors in the Big City Mayor's Caucus.