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A debate worth watching

The CBC-McGill mayoral debate was by far the most dynamic and engaging of the all the face-offs in this campaign.
Senior political correspondent Bernard St-Laurent on the mayoral candidates debate. 2:59

The CBC- McGill mayoral debate was by far the most dynamic and engaging of the all the face-offs in this campaign.

After a few flat performances earlier in the campaign season, candidate Marcel Côté finally showed up to Tuesday's debate. He was able to stay on message, highlighting what Montreal needs more than anything — a manager like him.

But he didn't escape the debate unscathed. Both Denis Coderre and Richard Bergeron criticized Côté for his alliance with former Parti Québécois minister Louise Harel.

Earlier this week, Harel said she would like to create a new position on the city's executive committee to promote the French language. But her idea isn't going over well with Montreal's English-speaking community, and Coderre and Bergeron were quick to point that out. 

Senior political correspondant Bernard St-Laurent says front-runner Denis Coderre appeared off his game during Tuesday evening's English debate. (CBC)

Mélanie Joly also came out strong, despite last week's controversy surrounding former candidateBibianeBovet. Joly stuck to her stand as the real alternative to old parties with old habits which will lead to old problems.

Richard Bergeron was even more blunt than usual in Tuesday's debate as he attacked Côté and Coderre.

At one point Bergeron insinuated that Côté's teammates Marvin Rotrand —​ the majority leader at city hall — and Bernard Blanchet— the head of the Union Montréal caucus — turned a blind eye to corruption while they were in office. Rotrand will no doubt fight back in the coming days. 

In the end, the surprise of the evening was Coderre.

The front-runner appeared off his game and did not look at the camera during his opening remarks — a big mistake in TV land. Coderre's best moments came when he attacked the PQ government's proposed charter of Quebec values.

Considering that Coderre seems to be so far ahead in the polls, his weak performance may not be as big a problem as it could have been.

You may be tired of debates by now. But this one is worth your time. Plus it's in English.

About the Author

Bernard St-Laurent

Bernard St-Laurent is the host of Radio Noon Montreal and C'est la Vie. He is CBC's senior political editor in Quebec, having covered all the major political events in the province from the election of the Parti Québecois in 1976 on.

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