MONTREAL - Montrealers with roots in Haiti watched on closely as millions in their homeland cast ballots for president Sunday.

Fabienne Colas, a Haitian-born actress and director now living in Montreal sees a new dawn in the vote.

"It's a new beginning for Haiti," she said. "I don't think there will be a magic wand and that everything will change after the election but I believe this is the first step towards a real democracy," she said.

The candidates are Mirlande Manigat, a 70-year-old university administrator and former First Lady and Michel Martelly, a musician, 50, who has less experience but possibility more grassroots popularity.

One Montreal Haitian says that Martelly might have the edge now.

"Voters are shifting to someone with more understanding of the people," said Jean Michel.

Robert Ismael, who broadcasts radio to the local Haitian community, also thinks Marcelly will more likely win.

"Up to now people are not too sure who will win but maybe it's Martelly because the young people came out to vote," he said.

Rebuilding is the key issue as the country has one million homeless. Universal education is also seen as a priority.

But Ismael says it's dubious that either candidate can bring these.

"They don't have a program or possibility to do what they say they'll do. The situation depends on the international community," he said.