Editorials

Editorial: May the best women win in Montreal, CDN–NDG & Westmount

On our cover, we feature Sue Montgomery, the former Gazette reporter, who is seeking to replace Russell Copeman as mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, the city’s largest borough. Montgomery is running under the Projet Montréal banner, whose leader, Valérie Plante, was featured in our cover story in May.

We believe that the time has come to give these qualified and committed women an opportunity to manage the affairs of our city and the boroughs. The main difference we see is one of approaches: incumbent Denis Coderre, who has been in politics for most of his adult life, first as an MP and cabinet minister, now as mayor, is a virtual one-man show, who has centralized power in his office.

Copeman is qualified and dedicated, but after he was first elected under the Coalition Montreal banner, joined the Coderre team and as such shares responsibility for that record including $1 billion spent on the 375th anniversary of Montreal celebrations, those ugly tree-stump “sculptures” on Mount Royal, and the ill-conceived Pit-Bull restrictions.

Plante, a former community organizer, and Montgomery, with her record as a social-justice advocate, represent something different. Coming from outside formal politics, they are eager to consult before making executive decisions. Both are committed to viable, vibrant, and green neighbourhoods with improved public transit. They deserve a chance to do better.

In Westmount, only two candidates – Mayor Christina Smith and challenger Beryl Wajsman – appear in contention for a possible win.

Smith hopes to parlay her experience on council under Peter Trent, whom she replaced, and continue along the same path. Wajsman, editor of The Suburban weekly, has distanced himself from Trent’s record, alleging that Trent “doesn’t feel that a municipality should be involved with anything beyond his municipality. I think he’s dead wrong.” Trent refutes his statement in a letter on these pages.

Wajsman says that if elected he will be “a strong and passionate advocate for the protection of constitutional rights.” If he were elected, Wajsman would be wearing two hats, that of mayor and activist editor. In advocating as a journalist, the public might be hard-pressed to distinguish between the two roles. Would he be acting on his own initiative or for Westmount?

A good number of prominent Westmount voters including former mayors, Trent, Karin Marks, and Brian Gallery, and most council members, in endorsing Smith, appear to disagree.

Smith’s supporters include lawyer Eric Maldoff, who has been at the forefront of most campaigns to maintain and enhance the rights of Quebec’s English speaking minority since the mid-1970s.

Wajsman is offering leadership on language and minority rights, but from the way some of Westmount’s most publicly active residents have endorsed Smith and her promise to continue along the path followed by Trent, she is best positioned to represent the city as mayor.

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