Harel out: Vision Montreal leader abandons race for mayor
Published Tuesday, July 2, 2013 11:31AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 2, 2013 6:55PM EDT
Louise Harel is no longer in the running to be the mayor of Montreal and is throwing her support behind Marcel Coté.
The leader of Vision Montreal says after several years of struggling she realizes that unable to woo anglophones, she cannot win the broad-based support needed to become mayor.
"It's an open secret that I haven't been able to make much headway in the western half of the city," said Harel. "I believe Marcel Coté, who is making his official announcement tomorrow, has the capacity to unite west and east."
Harel, who was surrounded by the dozen Vision Montreal members sitting on city council, said her party plans to create a coalition led by economist Coté.
"I think that this possibility of a coalition... will permit Montreal to turn the page and begin a new chapter," Harel said.
The coalition could include councillors from Union Montreal, former mayor Gerald Tremblay's party.
"He's way better than the other guys who have declared themselves up to date and he seems to be able to bring people from diverse backgrounds together, so its exciting," said councillor Marvin Rotrand, who admits he's been in talks to join the coalition.
Since November, when Tremblay resigned as mayor, the city of Montreal has been run by a coalition with members of several parties, along with independents, sitting on the city's executive committee.
Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron was quick to shoot down the coalition.
"What they call a coalition is notthing more than a negociation to win the election. It's a jack in the box," he said.
Meantime former executive committee members Robert LIbman calls the coalition a wise move on Coté's part, though said Harel could prove to be a liability in some areas.
"When he's west of sSaint-Laurent St. he's probably going to try to distance himself from her, when he's in the east he'll want her to be seen on every stage," he said.
Harel puts Montreal before herself
Harel said it was a difficult decision to bow out, but said she had no real choice if she truly cared about the best interests of Montreal.
"I have more ambition for my city than for myself," Harel said.
She points to Marcel Coté as someone who has spent years thinking about Montreal's problems and ways to solve it, the highlight of which was the Coté-Seguin report created for the Board of Trade in 2010.
She also said that is is essential that more Montrealers cast ballots in November's elections -- and that they think about more than just corruption.
"It is essential that Montrealers get involved and feel concerned about the upcoming election. It is the only way we will get better," she said.
Harel will run as a councillor in the Ville-Marie borough in the November elections.
Forced the municipal mergers
Harel first ran for mayor in 2009, coming in second to the incumbent Gerald Tremblay. During that campaign Harel was criticized for saying the rise of ethnic neighbourhoods in a city was bad because it limited people's connections to the city as a whole.
Harel also recognized that her spoken English was quite poor and she has since worked hard to improve her skills. In 2013 she was congratulated for being able to confidently conduct one-on-one long-form interviews with journalists.
However Harel's past as the provincial minister responsible for implementing the municipal mergers proved to be an insurmountable obstacle.
In recent months Harel has struggled to keep Vision Montreal councillors from jumping ship, with Pointe aux Trembles/Riviere des Prairies borough Mayor Chantal Rouleau, along with councillors Suzanne Décarie and Gilles Déziel leaving to join Team Denis Coderre.