The underdogs: Meet the independent candidates running for Montreal mayor

It may seem like a Denis Coderre versus Valérie Plante race — with Jean Fortier in the mix as well — but there are also a slew of independent candidates running to become Montreal's next mayor.

The race isn’t only for those with party backings, some are hoping to do it on their own

There are five candidates running for mayor of Montreal as independents. We take a look at who they are. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

It may seem like a Denis Coderre versus Valérie Plante race — with Jean Fortier in the mix as well — but there are also a slew of independent candidates running to become Montreal's next mayor.

There's the Dollar Cinema king, a former YouTube star, a self-described champion of small business, the communist and a well-known member of Montreal's Congolese community.

Bernie Gurberg ​

Many know Bernie Gurberg as the face of Dollar Cinema. For the past 13 years, he's been welcoming movie-goers and handing out popcorn at the cinema in the Décarie Square mall.

Gurberg says he was inspired to run after hearing many of his clients complain about the current state of the city.

"I've had a pretty decent run of my life and I think it's time that I give back a little," he says.

"I meet thousands of people, ten of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people and every single person that comes here, I make sure they are happy."

Gurberg has never been involved in politics and says he will continue to work at the cinema if elected mayor.

Among his campaign promises: tackling poverty in the city.

Gurberg is new to Twitter but says he plans to post updates and events for his campaign.

Gilbert Thibodeau ​

Gilbert Thibodeau is no stranger to politics, but what remains elusive for him is the win.

In the last municipal election, Thibodeau ran for mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough under the Équipe Denis Coderre banner, losing to Projet Montréal's Luc Ferrandez.

This time around, he says he's fed up with the state of small businesses under the Coderre administration and thinks he can do a better job.

"Everybody makes mistakes," Thibodeau says of his running with Coderre's team in 2013.

"I think it's about time we change things. Montrealers deserve a lot more."

Among his campaign promises: compensating business owners who lose profits due to major construction on their street.

Thibodeau is sharing news of his campaign as well as his platform on Facebook.

Fabrice Ntompa Ilunga ​

Originally from Congo, Fabrice Ntompa Ilunga moved to Montreal with his family when he was 13 years old.

Since then, he has been heavily involved in the Montreal-Congolese community. He currently sits as vice-president of the Communauté Congolaise de Montréal.

Ilunga's big objective is to bring more diversity to City Hall.

"We have a problem of underrepresentation [of diversity] in Montreal," he says.

"I think Montreal, which welcomes more immigrants than anywhere else in Quebec, needs to be a city that reflects that diversity in the population."

You can follow him on Facebook.

Tyler Lemco 

If you happen to be a fan of overindulging on bacon or artery-clogging meals, you may recognize Tyler Lemco as a member of YouTube cooking show Epic Meal Time.

Now he's back, running for mayor, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way.

"I'm nobody and I'm running for mayor," he says.

"I'm trying to use this as a platform to motivate to people to speak up and use their own voice ... I'm not a politician, nor do I really know what I'm doing, but I would do my best."

Lemco has been chronicling his campaign on a Facebook page, complete with a vlog of his adventures. 

Philippe Tessier​

The youngest of the candidates running for mayor, 24-year-old Philippe Tessier is not your average millenial. 

He is running as an independent but aligns himself with the Communist League. 

In various news releases sent to CBC, Tessier blames the flooding in Quebec this year on the "Capitalist governments" currently in power and he is asking for a halt on court proceedings against rail workers Thomas Harding and Richard Labrie, currently charged with criminal negligence in the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster.

More election coverage:


Sarah Leavitt


Sarah Leavitt is a multimedia journalist with CBC who loves hearing people's stories. Tell her yours: or on Twitter @SarahLeavittCBC.