The election of Valérie Plant, it is the fault of Luc Ferrandez

News 22 December, 2017
  • Photo archive, JOEL LEMAY/QMI AGENCY
    Luc Ferrandez and Valerie Plante.

    Maxime Pelletier (special Collaboration)

    Friday, 22 December 2017 13:06

    Friday, 22 December 2017 13:14

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    Since the election’s surprise Valerie Plant, most of the analyses the post-election have insisted, not without reason, on the warm personality of the candidate and on the effectiveness of the advertising campaign conducted by projet Montréal. There is, however, another important factor of this victory, more distant, but equally essential, that one seems to have forgotten : the decision of Luc Ferrandez not to run for the leadership of projet Montréal.

    Flash-back, in January 2016. A little less than two years of elections, the prospects are not radiant for the party. After you have finished a good third in the 2013 elections, Richard Bergeron, left projet Montréal to join the executive board of Coderre. No known candidate is expressed to replace it. Behind the scenes, activists trust me that they believe Denis Coderre entrenched, and instead concentrate on the battles to come in the boroughs central, where they hope to make gains.

    It is in this context that Luc Ferrandez, mayor of Plateau Mont-Royal and interim leader of projet Montréal, will present at the podium to deliver the closing speech of the congress of his party. Experienced and charismatic, he is the elected representative of the training the more known to the public, and the logical candidate to be the successor to Bergeron. Ferrandez is very popular with members of Project Montreal, and there is no doubt in my mind that if he had chosen to stand as a candidate, he would have easily won.

    Ferrandez makes a speech which, retrospectively, appears strangely prophetic. It notes, firstly, that the honeymoon between the Montréal and Denis Coderre is coming to its end. The style of governance of the mayor, which has the tendency, according to him, lack transparency and do not consult with anyone before making decisions, is increasingly unpopular. It seems clear today, especially after the episode a disaster to the Formula E, Ferrandez was right on this point.

    At the end of his speech, yet strong flavor electioneering, Ferrandez announced that it has decided not to run for the leadership of the party. “We cannot leave in place a bad leader under the pretext that we’re not able to join a part of the population, scared by an image it is more radical than we are really” sets out there. In fading, giving way to a figure less polarizing, Ferrandez wants to prevent Coderre of playing what he considers to be his last card : present himself as the candidate of reason in the face of opposition described as radical and disconnected from the concerns of the ” real world “. “To win, you must get rid of this image “, concluded the mayor of the Plateau.

    It is evident today that his wish has been granted. During that projet Montréal was conducting an electoral campaign strongly populist, focusing on concrete problems such as the confusion surrounding the road works, Luc Ferrandez was discreet and left Valerie Plant shine. The strategy worked perfectly, allowing not only to Project Montreal to win the council, but especially to make gains in the outlying districts of the City, where its image as a radical and anti-car had previously prevented it from making a significant breakthrough. One can easily imagine a duel Ferrandez-Coderre would indeed have given to the campaign turn out to be completely different, in which the message of Project Montreal could hardly have resonated outside of the central districts.

    There are few things less natural for a politician that slip away when the opportunity to shine under the spotlights presents itself, that of shirk when an important item is at hand. In this sense, the decision of Ferrandez shows a lucidity and a political sense that it is observed less frequently among elected officials. The supporters of projet Montréal, that they are aware of it or not, owe a debt of gratitude.

    About the author : formerly a journalist for The daily la Tribune, Sherbrooke, Maxime Pelletier is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Montreal. His research focuses on political financing in Canada and on the corruption in municipal governments.