CDN-NDG mayoral candidates square off
Published Thursday, October 19, 2017 9:33AM EDT
The mayoral candidates for Cote des Neiges-Notre Dame de Grace met the public and debated each other Wednesday, but before the first question was asked the incumbent was already attacking Projet Montreal's stance over Bill 62.
The legislation, passed earlier in the day at the National Assembly, bans face coverings from a scarf, to large sunglasses, to a niqab for anyone using a government-funded service, be it hospital care or taking the bus.
Plante initially said she supported the premise of Bill 62, but later on Wednesday said she was "asking Quebec to go back to the drawing board and think of the principle behind that."
Wednesday evening, CDN-NDG borough mayor Russell Copeman said Plante was flip-flopping and that people should vote for Denis Coderre as "a candiate who doesn't flip-flop on very significant social issues such as services to people who wear niqabs."
Projet Montreal's candidate, former Gazette reporter Sue Montgomery, insisted her party opposes the legislation.
"We cannot discriminate against anyone. I have a record of standing up for human rights and I will stand up against this law," said Montgomery.
After their opening statements, candidates faced questions from residents about community centres and more.
Kadi Diop said that many organizations that help the public, such as the NDG Food Depot, the Loyola Community Centre, and the Walkley Community Centre, work out of temporary spaces, and need a permanent home.
"I hope that we find adequate space because all three of us are currently housed in temporary spaces or spaces where we can't grow," said Diop.
Retired engineer Zaki Ghavitian, running as part of the Coalition Montreal party, said he does not need political experience to do a better job than the current administration.
"My platform is better management because there is a lot of waste that actually is going on," said Ghavitian.
Montgomery, who is also a political newcomer, said her party has learned from its terms of office in the Plateau Mont Royal borough and elsewhere.
"We want to buy 300 hybrid buses immediately. We have the pink line that would help out transit in the borough," said Montgomery.
Copeman, who was elected four years ago under the Coalition Montreal banner but has since switched to Team Denis Coderre, and who was a Liberal MNA for many years before that, said he believes the city's most populous borough should not elect someone who has never run for office before.
"I don't think being the Mayor of Cote des Neiges-NDG is an entry-level political position. I think it takes someone with political experience," said Copeman.
He said the past four years of his administration demonstrate why he should be re-elected.
"We've repaved 40 percent of the streets in this borough. It's been a huge undertaking, massive investment," said Copeman.
But that record is not what all voters, such as CDN-NDG resident James Bugden, are looking for.
"I've known Sue Montgomery for years. She's been very active in social investigations and she's been very active as an investigative reporter and she's done really good work, and I think with everything that's been in the media recently we could use more women like her in positions of power," said Bugden.
Others have an open mind.
"I have understood the position of each candidate so I'm going to try and verify which candidate really responds to what are my needs in my community," said one woman.
The candidates in the westernmost district in the borough, Loyola, have the opportunity to meet their candidates this coming Friday .
Municipal elections take place Nov. 5.