How the Projet Montréal 'wave' spread across the city

What happened in Montreal's 2017 municipal election? Support for Denis Coderre stagnated as Projet Montréal extended its reach and leader Valérie Plante charmed the city.

Support for Denis Coderre stagnated — most painfully — in his home borough

What happened in Montreal's 2017 municipal election? Support for Denis Coderre stagnated as Projet Montréal extended its reach and leader Valérie Plante charmed the city. (Radio-Canada)

At 9:14 p.m. Sunday, when CBC projected Valérie Plante to be the winner of Montreal's municipal election — the city's new mayor and the first woman elected to the post — members of her party called it "the wave."

"We had two scenarios in mind," Plateau-Mont-Royal borough mayor Luc Ferrandez told Radio-Canada from the party's rowdy headquarters 20 minutes later.

"Either a Mr. Coderre win, which we hoped would be a minority … or the wave. And it's the wave, so we're extremely happy."

Whether Plante's victory could really be qualified as a wave is up for debate. It's unclear whether the win was a full endorsement of her and her platform, or simply a rejection of Denis Coderre.

What is clear is that Projet Montréal chipped away at Coderre's base across Montreal's 19 boroughs over the last year.

It ran a relentless public relations campaign targeting Coderre's policies, latching onto public criticism of 375th anniversary spending, the pit bull ban and the lack of transparency resulting from the Formula E race.

Coderre lost steam in key boroughs

CBC News has tracked, borough by borough, how Montrealers voted compared to the 2013 municipal election.

The result shows a serious weakening in support for Coderre in the parts of the city that had overwhelmingly backed him when he was elected four years ago.

It also depicts the progress Projet Montréal has made since, especially in those communities previously warm to Coderre.

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A look at how the votes for Équipe Denis Coderre and Projet Montréal compare in Montreal's last two municipal elections. (Roberto Rocha and CBC News Graphics)

Both Équipe Denis Coderre and Projet Montréal votes show an increase in the charts because they were the two main competitors this time around. Last election, there were four.

Backing for Coderre faltered, notably in Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, Saint-Léonard and Verdun, but also in Montreal North, where he's from.

Projet Montréal seized on an opportunity to build its brand there during a 2016 byelection it lost.

Équipe Denis Coderre's Christine Black was elected, replacing disgraced former Montreal North borough mayor Gilles Deguire, but Projet threw its efforts into the borough. 

Plante has visited it at least 10 times since she became the party leader last December, and she picked a charismatic candidate dedicated to the community, former CFL player Balarama Holness.

Sunday, Black won again with 66 per cent of the vote, but Projet went from almost no votes in 2013 to 34 per cent in 2017.

Projet won in boroughs where mayors switched over

Projet Montréal carved more inroads in the West Island and southern parts of the city by winning over borough mayors in those areas where it lacked reach — a move that paid off.

Southwest borough mayor Benoit Dorais left Coalition Montréal for Projet Montréal at the end of May.

Days later, Projet recruited former journalist Sue Montgomery to run for the top spot in Côte-des-Neiges—​Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

And later that month, L'Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève borough mayor Normand Marinacci switched to the party from Vrai changement pour Montréal, the party launched by the runner-up in the 2013 election, now federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.

All three won their posts Sunday night.

with data compiled by CBC Montreal's Roberto Rocha