Gender parity but little diversity in Valérie Plante's executive committee

During the election campaign, Valérie Plante promised her executive committee would feature gender parity, diversity and even a place for some members of the opposition. But Montreal's newly elected mayor did not hit all those targets.

Interim opposition leader Lionel Perez says partisanship prevailed, calling it broken electoral promise

Mayor Valérie Plante stands with the 12 members of her executive committee Monday morning. All but one are members of her party, Projet Montréal. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

During the election campaign, Valérie Plante promised her executive committee would feature gender parity, diversity, and even a place for some members of the opposition.

But Montreal's newly elected mayor did not hit all those targets in revealing members her 13-person executive committee this morning.

There are seven men and six women, including Plante. There are not, however, any visible minorities. 

"It's a shortcoming, clearly, the [lack] of cultural diversity, in the city council in general," Plante said, pointing out that while visible minorities make up 30 per cent of the Montreal population, that number is not reflected in the city council.

Of the 65 members, only four are members of visible minority communities. Plante said while there are people on the council who come from diverse backgrounds, racialized communities are not represented.

"My commitment is to make sure that in the coming years, within the structures that I have some power over, my own party, our staff, and even the city, we need to do better."

Plante had already indicated that Southwest borough mayor Benoit Dorais will chair the committee.
Southwest borough mayor Benoit Dorais is the president of the executive committe. (Pascale Fontaine/Radio-Canada)

Only one member of the opposition was named — Verdun borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau, who is responsible for the citizen services file.

Parenteau ran with Équipe Denis Coderre. According to Radio-Canada, he was told he had to leave the party and sit as independent in order to obtain a position on the committee.

Plante denied those were conditions for getting a place on the committee, saying opposition members were given the choice to either recuse themselves from their party's caucus or sit as an independent.

Parenteau wasn't the only member of the opposition who was approached to join the committee. Plante said some people didn't want to leave their party caucus or sit as independents, and others didn't want the positions they were offered.

The team also includes five associate councillors who will assist the members of the committee in various files. Plante said it is possible there will be more people named to those positions in the future.

Here's the full list of the executive committee members and the associates:

  • Valérie Plante, mayor.
  • Benoit Dorais, chair.
  • Magda Popeanu, vice-chair responsible for housing, real estate planning and management and diversity.
  • Sylvain Ouellet, vice-chair responsible for water and water infrastructure management, infrastructure and electrical services.
  • Éric Alan Caldwell, responsible for urban planning, transit and files related to the Office de consultation publique de Montréal.
  • Christine Gosselin, responsible for heritage, culture and design.
  • Luc Ferrandez, responsible for large parks, sustainable development and green space.
  • Nathalie Goulet, responsible for public security.
  • Robert Beaudry, responsible for economic and commercial development and intergovernmental affairs.
  • Rosannie Filato, responsible for social and community development, homeless, youth, sports and leisure.
  • François William Croteau, responsible for smart city, information technology and innovation.
  • Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, responsible for transparency, democracy, governance, citizen life and Espace pour la vie.
  • Jean-François Parenteau, responsible for environment and citizen services.

The five associate councillors are:

  • Sophie Mauzerolle, who will assist Plante directly.
  • Alex Norris, who will assist with the public security file.
  • Marianne Giguère, who will assist with the active transit file.
  • Craig Sauvé, who will assist with the mobility and citizen services files.
  • Suzie Miron, who will assist with the infrastructure file.

Opposition unimpressed

Plante said in choosing her executive committee, she tried to strike a balance between choosing people with experience and making sure the different boroughs are well-represented.

Plante and Dorais say they are trying to change the way the executive committee works.

Various files will be grouped into trios, meaning three members will work together with the goals of being better organized, making sure more information is shared among them and having elected councillors with experience offer support to rookies.

Équipe Denis Coderre interim leader Lionel Perez criticized the idea of having the members work in threes, saying that, for example, if three people are attending meetings regarding three different files, they will end up being in meetings all the time and will never get anything done.

He said six members of his party, including two who are visible minorities, were approached with an offer to sit on the executive committee but refused because they were told they would have to eventually leave their party.
Opposition leader Lionel Perez said by placing conditions on joining her executive committee, Plante missed an opportunity to have more experienced people working with her. (Radio-Canada)

The fact that there are so few opposition councillors on the committee, Perez said, amounts to a missed opportunity and a broken promise to electors.

"She said she wanted to reduce and put aside partisanship. She failed from the get-go," he said.

Perez said the result is that people who have never been in politics have important files, and those who have knowledge about important files are being relegated to lesser roles.

No new borough mayors

There are no newly elected borough mayors on the committee. Plante said she wanted to make sure those 11 people could focus on their responsibilities at the borough level.

Some new mayors said they didn't want an executive committee position, such as the mayor of Côte-des-NeigesNotre-Dame-de-Grâce, Sue Montgomery. 

"It interests me but not right now," Montgomery said last Thursday.

​The committee is expected to have its first meeting Wednesday morning.