Mayoral candidate Melanie Joly basking in rising fortunes
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 5:26PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 21, 2013 8:16AM EDT
MONTREAL - Melanie Joly and her staffers were in a jubilant mood Wednesday as the fast-rising mayoral candidate repeated her mantra for change.
"We don't want seasoned politicians, we don't need them and that's what people will have to choose. Really, it's not as if experience has done great things for Montreal," she told CTV Montreal.
Joly, 34, has - according to Tuesday's CROP poll - rocketed into second place in the race for mayor, leapfrogging over Projet Montreal candidate Richard Bergeron and Marcel Côté of Coalition Montreal.
Joly still lags well behind leader Denis Coderre, as her 24 percent is 17 points back of the lead but she received the highest favourable opinion rating of all in the poll, scoring an impressive 70 percent of voter approval.
According to the CROP poll, Joly – who was fourth among the major candidates in the previous survey and is only running candidates in 58 of 103 seats - has leapfrogged Projet Montreal candidate Richard Bergeron, who scored 21 percent in the recent CROP poll as well as Marcel Côté, who has slipped to just 11 percent.
Joly’s campaign hasn’t been without its difficult moments, however. Her only high-profile candidate, former Bourque administration Executive Committee Chairman Jean Fortier jumped ship in August.
And as recently as June, one city politics beat writer interviewed Joly for 40 minutes and sniffed about her slick sloganeering and lack of concrete proposals. "Montreal is not a brand of yogurt," wrote François Cardinal dismissively.
And although Joly has never previously run for office and presents herself as the candidate of change, she has close ties with many seasoned political veterans.
Joly, a lawyer by training who now works in public relations, is a longtime friend of former premier Lucien Bouchard and considers him her mentor. Bouchard introduced her to her current campaign director Frederic Lepage, who worked for Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe for 12 years.
She also has federalist ties, as she was the chief organizer of Justin Trudeau’s 2013 Liberal Party leadership campaign and was also named by Premier Jean Charest to an important council on the French language.
Joly, according to an online biography, also sits on the board of directors of the Quebec Pension Plan, the Laval Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the CHUM Foundation (the French superhospital).
One of her candidates in the CDN-NDG borough, Marie-Claude Johnson, has an impressive political lineage, as her father Premier Pierre-Marc Johnson, as well as her uncle Daniel and grandfather Daniel all served briefly as Quebec premier.
Joly told CTV Montreal Wednesday that the choice is now between her and Coderre.
“Now voters know that they have a choice between us and the Tremblay-Zampino administration, which is under the umbrella of Denis Coderre,” she said.
Marcel Côté, when interviewed Wednesday, was not waving the white flag.
“Anything can happen and I have my own beliefs. I'm quite confident and I'm pursuing my strategy and I believe that people at the end of the day will vote on substance,” said Marcel Côté of Coalition Montreal.
Côté's precipitous drop is seen partially as the result of an incident last week in which his party blundered by failing to identify themselves in some aggressively-worded robocalls. Nonetheless the Coalition party still maintains the support of such diverse political veterans as Louise Harel and candidates Russell Copeman and Marvin Rotrand.
Richard Bergeron of Projet Montreal also said that he was unbothered by his drop in the polls.
“We still have 18 days before November third. A municipal campaign is so long,” said Bergeron.
Frontrunner Denis Coderre, who looks like a safe bet to win the mayoralty as things stand, said that he’s not taking anything for granted.
“We stay the course, we stick to the plan. I respect everyone who's running. They have their strategy, I have mine. I stick to the plan,” said Denis Coderre.