Marc-Antoine Desjardins bows out of municipal election, cuts ties with Balarama Holness
MONTREAL -- The merger of two Montreal political parties has fallen apart after Marc-Antoine Desjardins is bowing out of the race and cutting ties with Balarama Holness.
He also says he is disassociating himself from Holness and remarks he made at a joint press conference.
The ties that bind were clearly not steadfast even that day at the press conference stressing their united front. The pair were routinely at odds over their thoughts on language and the place of French and English in Montreal.
Standing next to each other, there were moments when Desjardins appeared disapproving and uncomfortable as Holness pledged a public consultation on declaring Montreal a bilingual city through a referendum.
Desjardins’s party, Ralliement pour Montreal, had prioritized protecting French in its platform. As the parties merged less than three weeks ago, both leaders spoke that day on the importance of finding common ground.
But it appears that whatever they did find has eroded.
“We tried to reconcile these two differences but unfortunately for him the pressure was too much and there was too much attacks, not enough chance of winning and he left. Politics isn’t for everybody,” said Holness.
In a statement issued Tuesday evening that Desjardins sent to a select number of French media, Desjardins said he was withdrawing as candidate for Outremont mayor and disassociating himself totally with Mouvement Montreal and its leader "on principle."
CTV News has reached out to his team for comment, and to obtain the original statement, but not hear back.
On Tuesday evening, Holness told CTV he was expecting this outcome. He said Desjardins had no chance to win in Outremont and that before they joined forces, Desjardins was originally approached by Denis Coderre's team and Ensemble Montreal.
Holness said the alternative would have been much more damaging to his campaign.
Before the parties merged, Mouvement Montreal had 44 candidates whereas now on paper they have 70.
“It changes nothing for Mouvement Montreal. The candidates are very happy with our platform, with the way the campaign is going,” said Holness.
Asked if he expects anyone from the Ralliement camp to leave, Holness said he doesn't expect many because "they want to win."
The issue of pursuing bilingual status for Montreal may be popular with English speakers, but political analyst Daniel Beland said in the French media, the idea has been harshly criticized – and many Francophones also don’t like it.
“This idea is not really well-received to say the least, and yes many people recognize that Montreal is de-facto is already bilingual, but even some Anglophones recognize that making it bilingual in an explicit way could hurt French,” he said.
Montrealers go to the polls to decide on a new mayor Nov. 7.