With the Quebec Elections coming on October 3rd, this week’s Riding to Watch is one I’ve lived in more or less my whole life: Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG).

NDG is one of the larger ridings in Montreal and has been a Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) stronghold for decades. However, as in many other ridings, the PLQ MNA, Kathleen Weil, has decided not to run again, creating an opening for new blood in the seat.

Why is NDG a riding to watch?

Here’s why:

Riding Breakdown

  • Location and Boundaries: Notre-Dame-de-Grace is comprised of Montreal West and part of the NDG/Côte-des-Neiges borough of Montreal.
  • Population: 72 520 with 46 268 electors
  • Language: 48.3% Anglophone, 24.2% Francophone, and 19.5% Allophone
  • Age: The two largest groups are the 30-39 (15.6%) and 20-29 (14.6%)
  • Average Income: With 17.7 % of the population in the >$9,999 and $19,999 annual household income range, NDG is one of the poorest districts on the Island of Montreal.

This is a borough to watch because it contains 34.2 percent visible minorities, compared to just 13 percent in all of Quebec. It is one to watch as the PLQ’s Kathleen Weil has been in power since 2008 and is choosing not to run again.

The PLQ’s replacement candidate, Désirée McGraw, was former Federal Prime Minister Paul Martin’s senior policy advisor from 2003 to 2006. She also has lots of experience fighting for environmental causes and is clearly one of the more experienced candidates.

In the 2018 provincial election, Québec solidaire (QS) came in second in NDG. While much of Québec solidaire’s platform, such as opposition to Bill 21 and fighting climate change, is ideologically in line with the values of the people of Notre-Dame-de-Grace, their refusal to oppose the aggressive language law, Bill 96, has left a sour note in the mouths of the district’s majority Anglophone population. It is no help to their cause that their candidate, Élisabeth Labelle is fresh out of university and has little to no political experience.

Photo by Samantha Gold

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) candidate is Geneviève Lemay, who has a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. The party clearly chose her for her bilingualism and education in an attempt to mollify the riding’s Anglophone and ethnically diverse population. She unlikely to win because despite the deep-seated cynicism of much of the riding’s population, Notre-Dame-de-Grace embraces ethnic and linguistic diversity and social justice in a way wholly incompatible with CAQ’s assimilationist xenophobic rhetoric.

The Conservative Party of Quebec (CPQ) candidate is Dr. Roy Eappen, an endocrinologist. Much like his party, he believes the solution to Quebec’s ailing public healthcare system is to lean more heavily on privatization, a solution that would likely create two-tier system in which the super-rich get better quality healthcare than most Quebeckers. Though Eappen himself immigrated to Canada from Kerala, India, he seems to take no issue with his party’s determination to slash immigration to Quebec.

There are two party leaders running for a seat in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. The first is the Green Party of Quebec (PVQ) Leader Alex Tyrrell, who has led the party since 2013. In the 2018 elections Green Party candidate Chad Walcott came in fourth after the Coalition Avenir Québec candidate in the riding. As it stands, the Green Party has yet to win a seat in the National Assembly and is unlikely to do so this time around.

Former Canadian Football League player Balarama Holness is the other party leader running in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. His party is one of his own creation, called Bloc Montreal. His party is all about ensuring that Montreal’s interests are properly represented in the National Assembly and their platforms begin with a recognition that Montreal represents fifty percent of the Quebec population and fifty percent of the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The party opposes Bills 21 (the secularism law) and 96 as being harmful to Montrealers. Though much of the party’s platform is meant for all of Quebec, the perception that they stand for Montreal and only Montreal will likely cost the party in this election.

No word on how this could play out locally for Holness, so NDG remains a riding to watch.

Map and stats from Elections Quebec

As Montrealers head to the polls for the second day in a row (and the fourth nonconsecutive day if you count the advanced voting last weekend) to choose their next mayor, city council, borough councils and borough mayors, we’re announcing the results of our poll. FTB readers have, once again, chosen Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal as the next Mayor of Montreal.

The Results

The incumbent mayor handily won the poll with 313 votes, beating former mayor Denis Coderre’s 194 votes, which landed the Ensemble Montréal leader in second place. First-time contender Balarama Holness, who entered both the mayoral race and our poll later than the other two, finished third with 30 votes.

The other candidates for Mayor of Montreal barely registered, if they did at all. None of the Above and Undecided got 24 and 22 votes respectively.

These results are close, proportionally at least, to the most recent actual election polls. Also, FTB readers endorsed Plante in 2017 as well, making it the first time our largely progressive readership aligned with the actual results of an election (federal, provincial or municipal).

Will that be the case again tonight after all the votes have been counted? We’ll have to wait and see.

Why Plante?

While I don’t pretend to know why people responding to our poll voted the way they did, I also voted for Plante and Projet Montréal and personally endorse both her and them. So I can at least offer a few reasons why, which could align with the thinking of FTB readers:

  • With better environmental planning (including newer parks and green spaces which also facilitate walking around town), improved access to public transit and eliminating roadblocks to a happy society like police quotas, Plante and Projet had quite a few positive accomplishments over the past four years.
  • Plante and Projet handled the COVID-19 pandemic response as well as any municipal government in Quebec could. While relief benefits to individuals and lockdowns were in the hands of the Federal and Provincial governments respectively, the city’s public health department’s contract tracing efforts helped curve the third wave and Montreal had lower numbers proportionally than other parts of Quebec. Plante also made a number of major streets pedestrian-only during the summer to help local restaurants and bars attract more local business with terrasses.
  • While her administration had its flaws, which many people, including myself, have pointed out over the past four years, overall, they are headed in a more forward-thinking and progressive direction.
  • Denis Coderre, the principal opponent, was (and would be) a disaster. Just remember the Formula-e, the pit bull ban and all that spending for the 375eme (tree stumps, etc.). Now factor in his work, when not in power, for a reno-viction giant and you know where his priorities will lie. While many have criticized (and rightly so) Plante’s approach to homelessness, a Coderre administration promises to create more homeless through reno-victions.
  • While Balarama Holness has some good progressive ideas and wants to go further than Plante on some of what Projet has done and is proposing (his main criticism of the Mayor isn’t her ideas, but that she hasn’t made them all happen), he doesn’t seem to have the ground game to come close to winning and the prospect of four more years of Coderre is just too great a risk.

Well, that’s how I see it and how the majority of our readers responding to our poll voted, the real choice is up to Montrealers tonight. We’ll announce the winner and provide analysis in the next few days.

Featured Image via ProjetMontreal.org

If you haven’t already voted in the actual 2021 Montreal Municipal Election, you have until 8pm tonight. Find out where on the Elections Montreal website

Gracia Kasoki Katahwa will run for Borough Mayor of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce under the Projet Montréal banner. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante made the announcement earlier today at a press conference in the borough alongside Katahwa and seven other first-time candidates whom Plante referred to as the future of her party.

Katahwa joins an arguably crowded field which includes incumbent Borough Mayor Sue Montgomery, originally elected as a Projet candidate and now running with her own borough-specific party Courage – Équipe Sue Montgomery. Longtime City Councilor for the Darlington district Lionel Perez is running for the post as the candidate for Denis Coderre’s Ensemble Montréal, a party of which Perez was recently the Interim Leader.

Matthew Kerr is running under the banner of Mouvement Montréal, the party started and led by Balarama Holness. Meanwhile, Alex Montagano promises a “back to basics” approach as he runs with his borough-specific party Team/Equipe CDN NDG.

Katahwa has a background in healthcare and is the only black woman on the Administration Council of the Ordre des infirmières du Québec. While this is her first foray into politics, she has a long history with the borough.

CDN/NDG is shaping up to be one of the races to pay close attention to this November.

Featured Image via Projet Montréal on Facebook