MONTREAL- Louise Harel is again vying to become mayor of Montreal.
Harel, leader of the Official Opposition, followed up a long-term promise to declare for the Nov. 3, 2013, election with the announcement of her Vision Montreal campaign on Wednesday.
“I have a firm desire to restore Montrealers’ confidence in their elected officials and municipal institutions,” Harel said. “Motivated by the challenges this election represents, Vision Montreal is on the starting line with me as candidate for mayor of Montreal.”
Harel lost to Gerald Tremblay in the last municipal election race in 2009.
The city has been steeped in corruption scandals since Tremblay resigned in November. Interim mayor Michael Applebaum has said he will not run on Nov. 3.
“I have more ambition for our city than for myself because during this period we need someone with experience and someone with a team," Harel said on Wednesday. "Montrealers can count on my team."
The 66-year-old Harel, of Blainville, has longed voiced Montreal’s need to centralize power as leader of Vision Montreal, and wants the city to reduce its number of councilors.
Harel said Vision Montreal will run a modest campaign - budgeted at $750,000 - as she addressed her party’s finances, which have been a constant target for opponents with the party in debt “to the tune of half a million dollars.” Harel said that figure is down from $1.6 million in 2009.
One pundit pointed out that Harel appears to have taken control of her debt.
“It's considerably less. In the past it's been well over a million. But I think her party can do it quite easily. You can still run a good campaign with that amount of money,” said Gazette municipal affairs columnist Henry Aubin.
Aside from numbers, Harel talked about why she feels qualified to run for mayor, and why she has a better chance this time around.
“I have more ambition for our city than for myself because during this period we need someone with experience and someone with a team,” said Harel, a one-time Municipal Affairs Minister for the Parti Quebecois. “Montrealers can count on my team.”
Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron is also expected to vie for the job, while Liberal MP Denis Corderre is also reported to be interested in the role.
Aubin also expressed some skepticism that Denis Coderre would be swept to power.
“He's been saying he wants to be a candidate for half a year and we don't know what he stands for. I think Harel has a good point when she says that he may have more ambition for himself than for his city.”
Harel made some statements that appeared to criticize Coderre.
Later that evening Coderre tweeted in reply: “Rather than attack me personally, Madame Harel should concentrate on paying her party’s $575,000 debt."