End of an era for Pointe Claire politics

After 23 years as councilor and mayor, Bill McMurchie will not seek re-election

By Kevin Woodhouse

Like his political career, Pointe Claire Mayor Bill McMurchie entered the council chambers this past Monday afternoon at exactly two when his scheduled press conference was supposed to start. After lauding councilors past and present as well as the city’s administration, McMurchie told assembled media that he would not be seeking re-election in November and will retire once the new Pointe Claire mayor is officially sworn in.

McMurchie grew up on a farm in Saskchachewan and worked his professional life as a city assessor for Pointe Claire and then as deputy director for the Montreal Urban Community’s Assessment Department before becoming a councilor for the Cedar Park district in 1990. After serving a councilor for eight years, McMurchie served as mayor for four terms, the last two he was acclaimed.

“Pointe Claire has always been governed by a council and not a party in order to independently represent the eight districts,” said McMurchie. “While each councilor had an independent voice, we would vote in consensus and never fought in public.”

McMurchie stated that he found that “the job of a mayor was simple: create, within council, ways to freely express opinions based on the best overall interest for the city and its residents. We were not politicians but your neighbours, chosen by the citizens to handle and administer the $135 million budget for the city.”

When noting his career highlights, the longtime mayor said that winning his first election against two opponents but “seeing the chair that had Ville de Pointe Claire at the city of Montreal’s agglomeration council made up of 29 municipalities. I woiuld never have traded places with any other municipality.”

McMurchie also spoke about the 2004 referendum where citizens voted by an 11:1 margin to return to being a city and not a borough of Montreal.

“This decision has proven to be a wise one,” McMurchie said.

He also credited his wife Laura Denise for 54 years of marriage, three children and five grand-children and for “possessing a phenomenal memory with the capacity for instant recall that helped with names and phone numbers and agendas over the years as I would always draw a blank,” quipped McMurchie.

As a way to describe his wife’s influence, McMurchie spoke about meeting a constituent after an election and he was quite sure the gentleman had voted for him.

Shyly, McMurchie thanked the resident, who told him that “I didn’t vote for you, I voted for Denise.”

McMurchie did not cite health reasons or wanting to spend mor etime with family as to why he is not seeking re-election but after 56 years of professional and municipal life, “I have never experienced retirement and I look forward to meeting that challenge,” McMurchie said.

When asked if he would be supporting any candidate for mayor, McMurchie told The Suburban that to date, no one has presented themselves and that he had “no intention of getting involved in the next campaign as the citizens are more than capable of electing representatives.”

McMurchie also thanked the media for their balanced coverage as he took on the role of city spokesperson for the last 15 years since he began as mayor.

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