By Tracey Arial
All three advance polling stations in Verdun were packed last Sunday.
The heavier than usual crowds were in part due to the time it took for each voter to fill out five different ballets-for the mayors of Montreal and Verdun, for a city councillor and for two borough councillors. All five ballots were put in the same ballot box to be later divided by colour for the official count.
“I have to vote five times,” exclaimed one voter. “How am I supposed to figure out who to vote for?”
She did attend last week’s debate between the candidates for mayor of Verdun, but that only covered one of the ballots. That event too was packed, although many of the audience members included people running for other positions in the election. The master of ceremonies had to specifically request that these candidates refrain from asking questions to leave the floor open for citizens who were trying to decide how to vote.
Prior to the question period, each mayoralty candidate had an opportunity to comment briefly about five different themes-cultural communities, the status of women, housing and living environment, poverty and democratic life.
Each of these themes is important to the community groups who organized the event: the Centre des femmes de Verdun, the Table de concertation en relations interculturelles de Verdun, the Comité d’action des citoyennes et citoyens de Verdun, Project PAL and the immigrant family aid centre known as Casa C.A.F.I.
The crowd was polite for most of the presentations, even when candidates made comments that didn’t seem to fit the themes. Applause was loudest for candidates whose remarks did not use up their entire allotted times, which happened three times.
Other than that, only two moments defined the mood of the crowd. The first occurred when a candidate mentioned her concern over the loss of Verdun’s rooming houses and got lots of applause. The second moment was a hail of oohs and aahs that greeted a candidate who introduced his baby grandson and claimed he would be brought up as a feminist.
Last week’s debate was the second and last of the campaign.
All eight teams in the borough have pledged to continue door-to-door campaigning daily until the election next Sunday.
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