Yesterday, newly christened mayor Valérie Plante took her chair as the head of city council for the very first time since the Nov. 5 election.
Obviously, this was a moment of celebration for Plante and her administration. The council meeting also marked several momentous firsts for Montreal municipal politics.
Monday’s city council meeting was the first to have a woman acting in the role of mayor, the first to have a female council speaker leading the meeting, and the first time women outnumbered the men on city council.
Plante took some time to acknowledge and celebrate these firsts, noting how the gender-parity now seen at city hall is a major point of inspiration for other municipalities in Quebec and Canada.
City council meetings will also begin with a statement acknowledging that the city of Montreal rests on unceded Indigenous territory, said Plante. This is already done in other Canadian cities, like Toronto.
But the happy vibes wouldn’t last forever, as the opposition party, Équipe Denis Coderre (a new name hasn’t been announced yet), didn’t waste much time in hurling tough questions at the new mayor and her administration.
Transit served as a major point of discussion, with the opposition party asking whether or not Plante planned to increase STM fares to cover the costs of purchasing 300 new hybrid buses.
The cost of the hybrid buses, not including the salaries of drivers, would be $225 million.
Not really committing to anything, Plante said “things look very good for the future,” reports The Gazette.
Plante then assured those present at the meeting that “Montrealers will see a difference in the streets of Montreal in the weeks and months to come.”
Whether or not Plante supported the proposed electric train line in Montreal also came up. News has circulated that Plante is against the project, but the mayor clarified that, rather, her party simply has some skepticisms.
The issue of diversity also came up.
One councillor asked Plante point-blank to explain why there is next to no representation of visible minority communities on the mayor’s executive committee.
Plante said she takes the lack of diversity at city hall quite seriously, adding that she will “do everything possible to better value all diversities in the city of Montreal."
Linguistic diversity also came up, with Plante being chided for not having any native English-speakers on her team.
Plante responded, saying that her team is comprised of bilingual individuals and “can communicate with all Montrealers and represent all Montrealers.”
Equipe Coderre, however, didn’t let their chance to show up Plante and Projet Montreal pass.
Dimitrios Beis, newly appointed councillor of anglophone community relations on the opposition party’s “shadow council” (it’s like the executive committee, but for the opposition party) said Equipe Coderre better represents the diverse nature of Montreal’s population, reports CBC.
In truth, Beis isn’t wrong, as the shadow council actually has some level of diversity.