Montreal

Here are the 5 main candidates vying to replace Quebec City's long-time mayor

With Mayor Régis Labeaume retiring, the province's capital will be getting a new leader at city hall for the first time in 14 years.

For the first time in 14 years, the province’s capital will be getting a new mayor Nov. 7

For the first time in years, Quebec City residents will have someone other than Régis Labeaume to elect as mayor. (Radio-Canada)

With Mayor Régis Labeaume retiring, Quebec City will soon have a new leader at city hall for the first time in more than a decade. 

Labeaume, known for his iron-clad hold on the city, has served as mayor since 2007, and was awarded the French Legion of Honour in a ceremony at city hall last week. 

Five major candidates are now running for mayor. Here is a closer look at them — and their platforms. 

Marie-Josée Savard, Équipe Marie-Josée Savard

Marie-Josée Savard has been the vice-president of the city's executive committee since 2017. (Louise Boisvert/Radio-Canada)

Marie-Josée Savard worked with Labeaume for eight years. 

First elected to city council in 2009, Savard opted to take a break to raise her family four years later. 

Since 2017, she has served as vice-president of the city's executive committee and councillor for the Cap-Rouge-Laurentien district. 

Savard is vowing continuity, picking up where Labeaume left off on building a proposed tramway, and promising to get started on the second phase of the city's public transit network and bike paths. 

She will maintain the city's plan to start a composting program once a biomethanization plant is up and running in 2022. 

Savard is promising 2,600 affordable and social housing units by 2025, 20 per cent of which would be dedicated to marginalized groups and people without homes. 

She has found herself having to defend Labeaume's record throughout her campaign. 

Her opponents say she allowed city hall to be a "toxic" workplace and did nothing about the over-taxing of residents. They also say she passed the buck when it came to protecting heritage buildings — a file she was in charge of. 

"I knew I would be a bit of a target," Savard said in a news conference following Radio-Canada's mayoral debate last week. "I have to defend my record, and at the same time it's like I have to defend the current mayor, so it's definitely a major challenge." 

But Savard maintains things have improved under Labeaume, and says things will get even better if she is elected. 

Jean-François Gosselin, Québec 21 

This is Jean-François Gosselin's second time running for mayor. He has served as the official opposition at city hall since 2017. (Radio-Canada)

This is Jean-Francois Gosselin's second crack at running for mayor.

Since 2017, Gosselin has served as the official opposition leader, and councillor for Sainte-Thérèse-de-Lisieux at city hall. 

He was also a member of the National Assembly from 2007 to 2008, with the now defunct Action démocratique du Québec. 

This time around, Gosselin has based much of his campaign on his proposal to replace the city's plans for a tramway with a 13.5-kilometre light-rail subway system and an electric trambus to d'Estimauville. 

Gosselin claims his project would be faster, better for the environment, and would cost the same. 

"It's what we need for Quebec City. We have the perfect configuration for it with the hills," Gosselin told reporters last week. 

"We can build it together — build a project that we'll be proud of, that our children and our grandchildren will be proud of." 

Gosselin is the only mayoral candidate who is against the city's $3.3-billion tramway, pointing to the provincial environmental review board's report last November that found major flaws with the city's proposal

The city has made a few adjustments since then, allowing for more room for urban parks and larger sidewalks, while preserving car lanes.

But all four of his opponents maintain it would be impossible to build his light-rail subway within the same budget as the tramway. 

Quebec City is going to see a change on November 7th, now that mayor Regis Labeaume is stepping down after 14 years in power. For the second of our interviews with the five candidates who want to be mayor of the capital, guest host Kim Garritty speaks to Jean-François Gosselin, from Québec 21.

The Québec 21 candidate is also the only candidate to fully support the province's third link tunnel from Quebec City to Lévis, though he hoped for a slight modification to the project — that it be rerouted further east in Quebec City, so as to avoid traffic downtown. 

On Tuesday, the province announced it would be changing its plans for the tunnel, so that only public transit would be able to arrive directly in downtown Quebec City. 

To help with post-pandemic recovery, Gosselin is promising to freeze business and residential taxes for the next two years.

He is also committing to build 6,000 affordable and social housing units, and will earmark $10 million for community groups. 

Jean Rousseau, Démocratie Québec

Jean Rousseau, with Démocratie Québec, has been the city councillor for the Cap-aux-Diamants district since 2017. (Steve Breton, Radio-Canada )

Jean Rousseau, head of Démocratie Québec, has been a city councillor for the Cap-aux-Diamants district since 2017. 

Before then, Rousseau was president of the Old Quebec citizen's committee for four years. 

Rousseau is calling for a complete overhaul of the Legault government's third-link project, suggesting that it be turned into an underwater metro system instead. 

"I'm opposed to the portion that will be a highway: 55,000 cars that are coming in downtown Quebec is totally unacceptable," Rousseau said following the debate last week. 

"What I'm putting on the table is the equivalent of the yellow line between Longueuil and Montreal." 

Rousseau is also promising dedicated public transit lanes on the Pont de Québec and better snow and ice removal on sidewalks across the city. 

He promises to spend $40 million a year on land to build social and affordable housing, and to creating more affordable housing units along the route of the upcoming tramway.

Rousseau is also promising more community police stations in the suburbs to "avoid a climate of insecurity, like that of Montreal," along with an additional $5 million per year for the hiring of intervention workers. 

Resident tax increases would be tied to the inflation rate, Rousseau promises, rising no more than 2.5 per cent.

Bruno Marchand, Québec Forte et Fière

Bruno Marchand is the former president of the Quebec City, Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent branch of Centraide. (Guillaume Croteau-Langevin/Radio-Canada)

Bruno Marchand, with Québec Forte et Fière, is a relative newcomer to municipal politics. 

Born and raised in Quebec City's Limoilou neighborhood, Marchand was president of the Quebec City, Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent branch of Centraide from 2014 until he launched his campaign this year. 

His goal is to reach "zero homelessness." 

"How is it that other cities can get there but we are too stupid to do it?" Marchand asked at the debate. "We can work with community groups, demonstrate compassion, and work with these people." 

Marchand says he would also help local businesses by lowering taxes, and would create more pedestrian streets to put local merchants on display. 

He is promising to study the possibility of charging a fee for real-estate projects that are built around the tramway network. 

"This would avoid overcharging residents and is an innovative idea," Marchand said last week. "This would make it so that it's not just the residents that pay and not just the businesses that pay in the city." 

But some of his opponents say the plan would just lead to further gentrification of the areas. 

Jackie Smith, Transition Québec

Jackie Smith, with Transition Quebec, is the only anglophone candidate in the city. Her entire platform focuses on tackling climate change. (Steve Breton/Radio-Canada )

Transition Quebec's Jackie Smith says she is the only mayoral candidate ready to crack down on climate change. She is also the only anglophone candidate running. 

Smith failed to win a city council seat in Limoilou in 2017 but she has sat on several citizen's committees since she settled in Quebec City 15 years ago. 

Throughout her campaign, she has repeatedly criticized the province's proposed third-link tunnel between Quebec City and Lévis, citing environmental concerns. 

She has vowed to make buses free for all, and to put pressure on the federal government to transform the Pont de Québec into a car-free zone. 

Quebec City is going to see a change on November 7th, now that mayor Regis Labeaume is stepping down after 14 years in power. For the first of our interviews with the five candidates who want to be mayor of the capital, guest host Peter Tardif speaks to Jackie Smith of Transition Quebec.

To achieve this, Smith plans on implementing a model of ecological taxation. This would include adding a toll on Quebec City's highways, charging those who come into the city more than twice a week, in order to prevent urban sprawl. 

Smith is also vowing to tax big box stores for the construction of large parking lots, and to add a tax of three cents per litre on gasoline. 

"I'm the only person who has enough courage to actually get things done and go in the right direction that will not cause a huge climate change disaster," Smith told Quebec AM. "I'm the only person who has, who really has, my heart in social movements."

To tackle the housing shortage, Smith says she would require 20 per cent of all new housing buildings to be dedicated to social housing or family units. She would also like to ban Airbnb in all non-touristic buildings.

With files from Radio-Canada's Louise Boisvert and Quebec AM

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