By Robert Frank
Laval citizens could have an embarrassment of choice when they cast their ballot in upcoming municipal elections this fall.
Longtime municipal administrator Jacques Foucher has already thrown his hat into the ring as independent candidate for mayor, and on Feb. 27, members of the Nouveau parti des lavalois (NPL) elected Guy Landry as their newest mayoral hopeful, polling more votes than fellow party members Sonia Barbaro and Levon Keyork.
Quebec government documents list Landry as the owner of internet service provider sabec.com, which also operates under the name international-golf.com. He previously worked as an organizer for Quebec Liberal Party candidates Lise Bacon and Tom Mulcair.
NPL has not yet selected candidates to run for the other 21 seats on city council.
Other municipal political parties vying for Lavalois’ votes include the Mouvement lavalois and the Parti au service du citoyen.
In addition a group calling itself Laval 2013 convened the various opposition parties for talks in January, aimed at exploring political alternatives. The initiative involves Vimont’s former Parti action démocratique representative in the Quebec legislature, François Gaudreau. Gaudreau also ran unsuccessfully for the Coalition pour l’avenir du Québec during the most recent provincial election in September.
Stole opposition’s thunder
Meanwhile, Mayor Alexandre Duplessis blunted his opponent’s criticisms last week, by adopting a series of reforms aimed at improving transparency. He gave the city more oversight and control over the awarding and monitoring of contracts—and provided a confidential tip line that will permit Laval citizens and city workers to report abuses.
“I want the city administration to be more efficient in its decisions such as the way it goes about selling land,” Duplessis asserted. “I have introduced a host of measures to get back our decision-making powers so that we can track all our projects effectively.”
Opposition politicians had been clamouring for just such measures to be implemented: beefing up the city’s auditor general’s office, hiring more engineers to oversee tendering and supervise projects, as well as bringing Laval’s human resources and public communication services back under the city’s direct control.
The mayor told The Suburban in an interview that he is still contemplating whether to form a new political party of his own, or campaign on his own merit in November.
“I might form a new party or might not and instead run as an independent candidate for mayor,” he concluded. “I am still reflecting as to where I will go with this, and expect to announce a decision at the end of April or in May.”
While turnout in Laval’s municipal elections has hitherto been apathetic—less than a third of eligible voters typically turn up at polling stations to vote—it remains to be seen whether the spotlight on the city’s politics during the past year will spur more Lavalois to exercise their suffrage in 2013.
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