And they’re off!

Who’s who in the race for Laval mayor

By Robert Frank

With just one month left of campaigning before Laval citizens go to the polls, Nov. 3, a record number of candidates are running for municipal office.

Barring any last-minute surprise candidates between now and close of business on Friday, Oct. 4—the deadline for candidates to register with Elections Quebec—the stage is set for the electorate to select whom they want to represent them as mayor for the next four years.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a roundup of the choices on offer:

Robert Bordeleau • Parti au Service du Citoyen

Strengths: Perseverance. The only candidate who has run for mayor before, Bordeleau earned 14.9 per cent of the vote in 2009, campaigning against former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt’s lavishly funded political juggernaut. Bordeleau’s comprehensive platform includes detailed plans for a transit network crisscrossing Laval that could help catapult the city from being a satellite of Montreal to becoming an economic powerhouse in its own right. A tax dispute over money his business owes to Revenu Québec has, for the most part, failed to slow Bordeleau down. More telling have been some defections that his party has suffered, losing disgruntled candidates who have instead opted to run as independents or for another party.
Marc Demers • Mouvement Lavallois

Demers went after his boss, former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, for corruption when he was a senior Laval police officer. Mouvement Lavallois placed second to Vaillancourt with 22.6 per cent of the vote in 2009. Demers prefers democracy to strong-man, top-down rule. He has assembled an impressive range of candidates reflecting the diversity of Laval’s viewpoints. Demers has run for the PQ several times but has vowed “to respect English rights.” This has riven Mouvement Lavallois and prompted the defection of several candidates, most prominently Emilio Migliozzi, who jumped to Action Laval. It will be a challenge to hold together the remaining candidates who range from purs-et-durs French-only militants to English rights advocates.

Jacques Foucher • Independent

Foucher presents himself as a thrifty technocrat. He has run cities all his adult life as a career municipal senior civil servant for a number of Quebec municipalities. He deplores political parties for putting partisan affiliation ahead of good ideas. Running the most austere campaign for office, he is unlikely to squander taxpayers’ money if elected. Foucher has struggled to gain media attention until the Laval Chamber of Commerce inadvertently shone a bright light on him by summarily excluding the independent candidate from its upcoming debate between mayoral candidates.

Jean-Claude Gobé • Action Laval

Gobé certainly has the experience. Until Claire Le Bel threw her hat in the ring, he was only candidate to have been elected to office. An intelligent, seasoned politician who can charm the paint off the wall, his methodical approach to building a team has lost only one candidate, Julius Bute , who couldn’t do the arduous fundraising needed to campaign. As a former Quebec Liberal MNA who flirted for a while with the Coalition pour l’Avenir du Québec party, many partisans—rightly or wrongly—see him as the Liberals’ frontrunner against the Parti québécois‘ man, Demers.

Claire Le Bel • Option Laval

Le Bel has a deep record of grassroots engagement. Former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt recruited Le Bel because of the social worker’s success at founding a thriving community centre that she built from nothing, two decades ago. She has helped a generation of immigrants integrate into Laval’s French reality. Le Bel has acknowledged participating in Vaillancourt party’s fundraising. She ditched Vaillancourt and vowed not to form a political party or run for mayor, then did the opposite. Le Bel has manifested an equivocal, wait-and-see response to the Quebec values charter.

Guy Landry • Nouveau Parti des lavallois

Landry has been hovering around the periphery of Laval politics for decades. His party came late to the fold and, this past Monday, ten of its candidates quit his party to run as independents, after Landry acknowledged last week that Quebec is pursuing him to repay $40,000 in welfare benefits. He told a television news reporter that a recent illness entitled him to the payments, but immediately afterward cameramen caught him driving off in his expensive Porsche Boxster convertible sports car.

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