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Louise Harel, Madame La Mairesse


August1991

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Former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister Louise Harel says she will run for mayor in Montreal's municipal election this fall.

She plans to run for the Vision Montreal party.

Harel, 63, would be a high-profile opponent for Mayor Gerald Tremblay, who is a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister.

Harel served as interim leader of the PQ in 2005.

CP

My first guess is that she'll win despite the baggage of her past. (Tremblay's scandals are too much and Harel has name recognition.)

Second, she's "new Montreal politician": French-speaking, not bilingual.

Third (for American listeners), Harel's another Nancy Pelosi. Or, why do large North American cities tend to choose radical leftist mayors until they don't?

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I'm no conspiracy theorist but the source of Tremblay's possible demise deserves attention: an investigation of the federal CRA into municipal contracts.

Harper may not agree with Harel but he probably would welcome her victory. It's a signal to local politicians elsewhere in Quebec.

Edited by August1991
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  • 3 months later...

This has turned out to be a bad campaign for Tremblay. Recent allegations about the FTQ will not help him.

Watching Tremblay, I am reminded of Martin in 2006. An experienced politician, ambitious, big ego, love the limelight/action, struggling to deal with a scandal and ultimately a new world of communication.

I would feel pity except that both were up to their armpits in the scandals. Politicians by nature are gossip/info fanatics. They both knew but pretended otherwise.

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Unlike too many federal candidates, Louise Harel - to her credit - declined to participate in an English language debate. Harel understood that she doesn't speak English well enough to debate. (Elizabeth May please take note. For language skills, a good criteria is to ask whether the politician can tell a joke. That criteria has the advantage of applying to any language. IMHO, by that standard, only Duceppe and Ignatieff pass in a language other than their mother's tongue. Harper and Layton can joke in English.)

I don't think Harel's language skills will hurt her. It is her "separatist" baggage that will hurt. Many anglophones/allophones will vote Tremblay, or cross their ballot. But all things considered, I'd say that she will be mayor - likely for one term only.

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There is a good piece in English in The Gazette about Louise Harel. It contains this curious quote:

"I have an ambition - and it is to reconcile the regions of Quebec with Montreal," Harel said. "The different regions of Quebec feel estranged from Montreal. I think Montreal is a city that is foreign to their reality. And, me personally, I've always been very favourable to cultural diversity, extremely so."

The problem is that Louise Harel is running for mayor of Montreal, not PM of Quebec. Successful mayors are typically obsessive self-promoters of their cities.

Increasingly, I think that she will win but I also think that she'll be a one term mayor. She's too opiniated, too left wing and too close to city unions.

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For anyone who wants to learn English, here's some good advice (assuming someone else picks up the tab):

Like a lot of anglophone students in French immersion, she has been learning the language of a people she never gets to meet.

That changed on June 3, when a retired anglophone woman named Eileen Royal was recruited to become Harel's chauffeur. Royal is a good friend of Harel's cousin. The two women have gotten into a routine of talking English between campaign appearances.

"Before I get out of the car and the camera lights turn on and the microphones appear," Harel said, "I test out a few words with Eileen first."

Harper would be wise to have the RCMP put only francophones in his bodyguard detail.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Montreal's election is on Sunday 1 November. It has turned into a very, very ugly mess.

Le maire de Ville-Marie, Benoît Labonté, aurait reçu en 2008, après qu’il eut sollicité son aide, plus d’une centaine de milliers de dollars de Tony Accurso, et ce au moment où il entamait sa course à la direction de Vision Montréal.
rue Frontenac

Louise Harel, the challenger, leads Vision Montreal. Gerald Tremblay, the sitting mayor, leads Union Montreal. Tremblay is accused of corruption. Now, Vision Montreal is accused of corruption.

In English Canadian terms, Louise Harel is a separatist and Gerald Tremblay is a federalist. Both are corrupt.

In Quebec French terms, Tony Accurso is Italian.

In Quebec outside of Montreal terms, Montreal is a corrupt place.

-----

I don't know if Harper has played these cards, but if he has - he has played them very well.

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Benoît Labonté has quit his job as leader of the opposition in Montreal city council and has resigned as lieutenant – or right-hand man – to Louise Harel, the mayoral candidate for Vision Montreal.

The news comes after days of allegations swirling around Labonté, the borough mayor for Ville Marie, that he solicited and/or accepted huge sums of money from companies involved in the controversial water-meter contract to fund his leadership race for the party in the spring of 2008.

The Gazette

"I'm not guilty but I resign."

IMV, Harel did the only thing that she could do.

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At this point, I don't know who will be mayor of Montreal after the 1 November. I would be very, very surprised if it is Tremblay. It could be Harel, or even Bergeron.

In the broader sense, this municipal election in Montreal matters in Canadian federal politics. There has been an earthquake in Quebec. I am surprised (and then again, not) that the English Canadian media has been so silent. Paul Wells and Chantal Hébert usually weigh in. So far, they haven't.

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On the weekend, Benoît Labonté was forced to resign from his party and drop out of the campaign for the city’s Nov. 1 election over allegations he met with, and accepted donations from, a controversial construction entrepreneur.

Labonté initially denied the allegations.

Now, in an interview with Radio-Canada, Labonté has admitted he lied.

CBC

[You can practice your French listening to excerpts from the original interview here.]

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Gerald Tremblay has chosen, in Richard Nixon style, to stonewall this. (He was uncustomarily angry in his response today. I think the "faux naif" accusation hit his vanity.) Louise Harel, apparently, is still weighing her options. Her stand-in and new lieutenant, the academic Pierre Zampron, played the expected card that Harel is the new girl in town. Well, she's not.

That leaves Richard Bergeron. Bergeron hates cars, is convinced of his infallibility and believes that the US government was behind 9/11. He's a bureaucrat's bureaucrats. He loves committees, commissions, pilot projects, meetings, agendas. (Bergeron is now around 20% in polls.)

There's also Louise O'Sullivan, a one time municipal counsellor (in Tremblay's party) and losing federal Conservative candidate in Montreal. The last time I checked, she was at 2% in the polls.

At this point, I'd predict that Montreal will have the equivalent of a minority government. Tremblay may squeak through because of the non-crazy, anglo-federalist vote. He'll likely face a council (103 members, ugh) with an opposition majority.

Whatever happens on 1 November, this election is only the first stage in the upcoming fireworks.

Edited by August1991
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I think that Montreal is about to elect Richard Bergeron as mayor.

If Louise Harel is the Nancy Pelosi of Montreal politics, Bergeron is a left wing Garth Turner.

Let me try to put this Montreal municipal election into English-Canadian perspective as best I can. I once met Toronto's John Sewell, and his assistant Karl Jaffery. (I think Sewell was a Toronto alderman at the time - I'm good with faces, not bad with names but terrible with positions). Richard Bergeron is John Sewell on acid.

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Bergeron will be a one-term mayor but IMV, his election would be a good thing. It sends a message to Tremblay and Harel and people like them.

Last point/anecdote.

I was afraid that I may be travelling on the weekend Sunday 1 November so I decided to vote par anticipation last weekend. When I showed up at the local community hall, there was a queue in front of my polling section. I waited and watched people mark the ballots. (I had five ballots since where I live, we elect five representatives.) The woman in the queue beside me turned and said in French, "There are a lot of people. It would be better if we could vote like in the US." I answered and motioned, "Yes, pull a lever." Then I added, "Many people? This time, the election is different. Many people are here because they want to vote." She looked aside and responded, "Par vengeance."

Edited by August1991
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There was a poll in La Presse this morning. Here's an English version:

Vision Montreal mayoral candidate Louise Harel has the support of 34% of decided voters, followed by Project Montreal leader Richard Bergeron, with 32 per cent.

Mayor Gerald Tremblay, who won 2005's mayoral election by a 25 point margin, falls slightly behind his opponents, with 30 per cent.

CTV

In one month, Bergeron has risen from about 20% to 32%, taking about 6% from each Harel and Tremblay. Bergeron has the advantage that he is not Tremblay, and Harel is unpalatable to anglophones.

Since Montreal municipal politics have political parties, and since we vote for mayor and then for council representatives (as well as borough mayors and borough reps), it is quite possible that Bergeron will be mayor but his party will not have a majority on the council.

Whatever. Montreal seems likely to elect Oleg as its next mayor. Too bad that Kimmy doesn't live in Montreal to blog about the ensuing antics.

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My first guess is that she'll win despite the baggage of her past. (Tremblay's scandals are too much and Harel has name recognition.)

Nope.

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2170911

Montreal's incumbent mayor, Gerald Tremblay, whose administration has been dogged by corruption investigations and allegations of unethical behaviour for much of the past year, won a third term running Canada's second-largest city after a hotly contested election on Sunday night. Main rival Louise Harel said shortly before 11:30 p.m. she congratulated Mr. Tremblay on his win but urged his administration to make sure "Montreal reclaimed the place it must have in the world."
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Since Montreal municipal politics have political parties, and since we vote for mayor and then for council representatives (as well as borough mayors and borough reps), it is quite possible that Bergeron will be mayor but his party will not have a majority on the council.

Nope again.

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Nope again.
I wuz wrong, once again.

Then again, Tremblay went from 60% to 35% - but he's still mayor, and he still has a majority on council.

Why? IMV, Harel and Bergeron were bad candidates. Harel is divisive. Bergeron is a kook.

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Some Francophones in Montreal are accusing Anglophones in Montreal of racism because the anglophones didn't vote for Harel. According to the francophones, the anglophones chose corruption over separation and a unilinigual mayor.

Ugh.

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I wuz wrong, once again.

Then again, Tremblay went from 60% to 35% - but he's still mayor, and he still has a majority on council.

I certainly didn't know in great detail the local people involved although we have talked before about the corruption in things like construction before. That conversation was in regard to our talk on price fixing and gas and I remarked about how corruption in construction prices had historically plagued Quebec.

I don't think I ever imagined it was rife even now.

I looked at the election percentages and the record of ousting a sitting mayor. It is a pretty dismal record in Quebec and for the whole country.

Mayors die in office if that is their wish.

Some Francophones in Montreal are accusing Anglophones in Montreal of racism because the anglophones didn't vote for Harel. According to the francophones, the anglophones chose corruption over separation and a unilinigual mayor.

Ugh.

I have seen some of the bitterness afterwards. It seems to be the fallback measure.

Quebec probably requires a bilingual mayor given its population. That alone would be an issue for people who wanted that connection to their mayor.

Edited by jdobbin
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