With just a day to go before Montrealers choose whether to stick with incumbent Mayor Denis Coderre or go in a new direction with challenger Valerie Plante, both candidates were out for the final chance to spread their message on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters outside city hall, Coderre touted his long career in politics, stretching back to his 16 years as a federal member of parliament, as valuable experience necessary to do the job.
“There will be a lot of challenges and it’s not just about the capacity to make a phone call to the premier or prime minister,” he said. “You need to understand what the bureaucracy is all about.”
Coderre also addressed one of the most frequent criticisms thrown at him.
“People talk about arrogance, I call that determination,” he said. “Sometimes we have to show more humility, maybe. But authenticity provides you the right to make mistakes. With me, what you see is what you get.”
Plante, who started the race as an underdog but quickly climbed to tie or even slightly lead Coderre in later polls, struck an equally optimistic tone as she toured several of the city’s outdoor markets to make her final pitch to voters.
She contrasted her relative newness to politics to Coderre, saying she wouldn’t be the first less experienced candidate to triumph over a more politically established candidate in recent history.
“This is exactly what the Conservatives said to Justin Trudeau and now he’s prime minister of Canada,” she said. “The population right now is answering very positively to the fact that I’m not a… politician.”
Coderre compared the current state of the city to the corruption that riddled the municipal government during the reigns of previous leaders.
“We’ve done our homework. We have the credibility,” he said. “Of course we can make mistakes. Today, the reality is we delivered the goods, the pride is back.”
Plante said that Coderre comparing himself favourably to the Tremblay and Applebaum administrations was a low bar.
“Denis Coderre likes to say he did not end up in jail. I’m sorry, but I have more ambition for Montreal,” she said. “I’m sorry, but I have more ambition for Montreal.”
Throughout the campaign, both candidates have illustrated very different visions of what their administrations would look like and the style of leadership they would use to get there but on the last day, both could agree on one thing – the importance of Montrealers voting.
“Democracy is always fragile,” said Coderre. “The most important thing for us is to make sure at every level, people should vote.”