With only days until the official vote on November 3, the city of Gatineau’s municipal election is proving to be a tighter race than previous years.

For the first time, Gatineau is seeing a political party compete for municipal seats.

Action Gatineau has ensured there will be a candidate in each of the 18 districts.

Gatineau election candidates debate

Three of Gatineau's mayoral candidates debate municipal issues ahead of Nov. 3 election. (CBC)

A local political expert says the introduction of party politics is a force that can potentially influence voters.

“It was a way where you could have more of a vision about what the city should do and what municipal politics should be about,” says Guy Chiasson, a political science professor at the Université du Québec en Outaouais.

That’s compared to the last two elections when at least a couple of councillors won uncontested.

Action Gatineau party leader, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, is running for the mayor’s seat against incumbent Marc Bureau. The other two candidates running for top job are François P. D'Aoust and Jacques Lemay.

Not a good time to start a new party, says professor

However, Chiasson says the idea of party politics raises some concerns in the context of the ongoing Charbonneau Commission, a public inquiry into the corruption of Montreal’s construction industry. It led to last year’s resignation of Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay after allegations of illegal financing to his political party emerged.  

“It’s not a good time to start a new party in municipal politics or elsewhere,” says Chiasson. “There is a bit of skepticism about or the idea that they are kind of vehicles for corruption.”

This election has mostly revolved around commitments to re-develop the local economy. However, mayoral candidates were quick to include transit as part of their campaign promises in reaction to a recent controversy.

In the past week, some residents, especially in the east, became upset with the new Rapibus Transit System, some demanding the return of the now-defunct express routes which they say were faster.