Mayoral candidate Jean Fortier explains why he's returning to municipal politics

Jean Fortier is going up against the sitting mayor, Denis Coderre, and Projet Montréal Leader Valérie Plante in the Nov. 5 mayoralty contest.

Fortier to go up against Denis Coderre and Valérie Plante in race for mayor's seat

Jean Fortier is joining the race for mayor of Montreal. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Jean Fortier, Coalition Montréal's candidate for mayor in the Nov. 5 municipal election, said if he is elected, he'd put together a non-partisan executive committee and make sure councillors were named to committees based on their expertise, not on their party allegiance.

Coalition Montréal, the second opposition party at city hall, announced last week Fortier would run against sitting mayor Denis Coderre and Projet Montréal Leader Valérie Plante.

As one-time executive committee chair, Fortier held the second-most-powerful political job in the city from 1998 to 2001, during the Pierre Bourque administration. 

The former Vision Montréal councillor spoke to CBC Daybreak's Mike Finnerty about his return to municipal politics, corruption and why he believes Montreal needs to move back in the right direction.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Mike Finnerty: Why did you want to get involved with municipal politics once again?

Jean Fortier: I would say that I was moved and I was motivated by a sense of urgency. I'm a little disappointed with the impact of the Charbonneau commission [into corruption in the construction industry] on the city of Montreal.

Quite frankly, there's a lot to be done still, and a lot to be desired in terms of services and the way people are being treated [by] the City of Montreal.

MF: So you don't think the city has come to terms with corruption yet?

JF: I cannot outright say corruption, but everything is in place for things to continue to happen. It's a matter of transparency in the processes, of serving these contracts.

Altogether there's a culture of secrecy with the City of Montreal that really could be very dangerous in terms of what it would lead to.

MF: What is Denis Coderre doing wrong, in your opinion?

JF: I think he puts too much attention on political issues — on power and symbolic power, like [the city] being a metropolis, and not paying enough attention to processes.

MF: What should be done about taxes in Montreal?

JF: To start with, it's a matter of figuring out who does what better, and secondly, to figure out if we have the tax basis. There are parties that are asking for more taxes in different areas, like taxing pot for instance.

Basically, I think the tax basis that Montrealers have access to is enough to provide the services, and it's a matter of first figuring out how to make the city more efficient.

MF: In your statement of principles, you state that Coalition Montreal believes there should be a better representation of minorities in municipal jobs. How should that be done?

JF: We believe that, there's no doubt about that — not only in terms of visible minorities, but in terms of language.

I was surprised at city hall when I was there, to see how many people don't even speak English in the administration. People who live outside of Montreal, and don't have a feel for what the real life of Montreal is. So of course, representation is very important for us.

MF: You also pointed out in your statement of principles that road maintenance has been not good enough, and it needs to be improved. How do you do that?

JF: I'm a cyclist. What I've witnessed is that over the last four years — there wasn't much done. And all of a sudden, by miracle, everything is done.

It's good for this year, but the way it's being maintained is not proper.

We have a tendency to throw money at the problem at the last minute when it's so obvious and politically rewarding to do those things. There's a constant attention that should be paid to that.

MF: What is this election all about?

JF: According to me and the way things are beginning to take shape, the most important issue is that of integrity, and directly that of the character of the contender and his opponents.

With files from CBC Daybreak