Montreal

Luc Ferrandez says Projet Montréal isn't 'radical' enough to fight climate change

Luc Ferrandez is stepping down from his role as mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal because he feels he can do more to promote his environmental goals outside municipal government, he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Mayor Plante is 'a balanced person, and she is thinking in terms of balance — but not me,' Ferrandez says

Luc Ferrandez has served as the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough mayor since 2009. He was the interim leader of Projet Montréal in 2014. (Radio-Canada / Laurence Dompierre-Major)

Luc Ferrandez says the time for taking a balanced approach to politics is over.

In an interview Wednesday, Ferrandez said he decided to step down as mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal because he can accomplish more in the fight against climate change outside Mayor Valérie Plante's administration.

"We had many occasions where I found out that I was much more radical than she was," Ferrandez told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"She is a balanced person, and she is thinking in terms of balance, but not me. I am thinking in terms of crisis. We should not be balanced anymore."

Ferrandez, a divisive and prominent figure in municipal politics, has served as the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough mayor since 2009. He was also interim leader of Projet Montréal. 

Ferrandez said he has no intention to run for provincial or federal office, though he didn't rule out an eventual return politics.

"I want to do conferences. I want to write a book. There's a lot of things I can do from the outside," he said.

Plateau Mont-Royal borough mayor, Luc Ferrandez, has quit political life. He served as borough mayor since 2009, and made the announcement on Facebook. He joined us on Daybreak to explain why he chose to step away now. 10:10

Ferrandez said his party has done more for the environment than the previous administration, but its policies don't go far enough. 

Since Projet Montréal took power in November 2017, Ferrandez said he has been pushing for stronger measures, including buying up green space in the city and turning all non-residential parking spots into paid spots.

According to Radio-Canada sources, the parking plan was a subject of concern for members of Plante's executive committee, who felt that his desire to eliminate free parking spots downtown would spark a public backlash.

Ferrandez said he felt his own reputation was being used to boost the party's reputation on the environment.

"I don't want to be used this way," he said.

'I was a very poor politician'

Ferrandez, who was re-elected twice as borough mayor, was a controversial figure for policies aimed at making the Plateau more livable and more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

He narrowed more streets to a single lane, introduced traffic calming measures and added parking meters that angered local merchants and commuters.

As far back as 2011, Ferrandez was ranked the most frequently absent mayor at municipal council meetings. 

On Daybreak, he admitted he didn't like attending the meetings and preferred to get ahead on his work at his office.

Luc Ferrandez said that he hopes Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante will be re-elected in 2021. (CBC)

Ferrandez said he was "a very poor politician," explaining that didn't like long discussions in council or policy-making, saying instead that he was a "man of action."

He hasn't, however, ruled out the possibility of returning to politics.

"It's the era of Valérie Plante. She will be re-elected in 2021, and I want her to be," he said.

Montreal doing its part, says Plante

Plante reacted publicly to the news of Ferrandez's departure Wednesday morning, telling reporters she respects her former colleague's commitment to fighting climate change. 

"There is a climate crisis, and we need to act — but what needs to be understood is that there is the City of Montreal, but we can't act alone."

She said the city needs, first and foremost, to work with the provincial and federal governments and take steps to encourage public transport and green initiatives.

"For me, I really have the impression that we're doing our part," she said.

In recent weeks, Plante has made a series of announcements aimed at reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions, including a commitment to banning heating oil on the island. 

Ferrandez argued those initiatives don't go far enough. In his resignation letter, he proposed what he described as environmental "war measures."

They include taxing meat, lobbying to block an airport expansion and planting half a million trees.

His call to action was well received by at least one environmentally minded politician.

Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Quebec Green Party, said on social media Ferrandez's resignation "should be the beginning of a major debate within the Projet Montréal."

Alex Norris was named interim mayor on Wednesday. 

A byelection to replace Ferrandez will be held in October.

With files from CBC's Daybreak and Radio-Canada's Thomas Gerbet

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