Valérie Plante, vying to be Montreal's 1st female mayor, talks transport, families, city spending

Leader of Projet Montréal launched her official campaign platform this week. The municipal election in Montreal and other Quebec municipalities is Nov. 5.

Leader of Projet Montréal launched her official campaign platform this week

Valérie Plante launched her campaign earlier this week with a party rally at the Lion D'Or. (Jonathan Montpetit/CBC)

Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante launched her official platform this week, in preparation for the start of the official campaign period, which kicks off Friday. Municipal elections across the province are set for Nov. 5.

Plante was first elected in 2013 as city councillor for the Ville-Marie borough's Sainte-Marie district.

After being chosen to lead Montreal's opposition party in 2016, she now has her sights set on becoming the city's first female mayor.

She came by CBC Montreal's Daybreak studio Wednesday to talk to host Mike Finnerty about her key platform points.

Mike Finnerty: Your platform is transport-heavy — free Metro for students and seniors. How is that going to work?

Valérie Plante: It's going to work really easily, because if we really want to support families, elders and our kids, then we need to make transit accessible and available.

Right now, I'm a mom with two kids that take the Metro to go to school, and it gets very expensive very fast, every month.

Because Projet Montréal wants to put a lot of energy on keeping the families in Montreal, we need to put measures like that.

MF: You're also talking about the Pink line once again; we're still trying to get the Blue Line sorted out. And we have the $6-billion electric train: we'll have groundbreaking in the next year. Isn't that enough to grapple with without another Metro line?

Projet Montréal has said it will move forward on construction of the Metro's Pink line. (Projet Montréal)

VP: We haven't had any major investment in transport in the last 25 years. I truly think that we need to invest massively and that Montrealers are hungry for options. This is how we will keep our families and our Montrealers on the island so they don't have to go elsewhere.

We talk about transit, but let's not forget about housing because the two are connected.

If there's more Metros then there's also more new neighbourhoods we can build for different kinds of people. I am tired of seeing people when they are having their first or second kids having to leave the island because there [are] no options for them.

MF: One of the things that comes up about Denis Coderre over and over again is people now see him as a big spending mayor. But listening to you, you sound like even a bigger spender.

VP: Actually, I think I'm not a big spender because it will [be] worth it and it will actually benefit Montrealers.

I think people are unhappy with how the mayor is spending money on his own private projects. He didn't ask anyone about Formula E. He didn't ask anyone before building another Place des Spectacles on Notre-Dame Island.

This is why people are upset. They are seeing all the potholes; they are seeing people leaving the island because they cannot afford it.

This is what people are telling me. It's not about not spending money. It's about spending it the right way for them.

MF: You mentioned all the construction — that drives people crazy. Is there anything that can be done to make that work less painful?

VP: Work needs to be done on so many levels, but it's about having a better communication, co-ordination. Right now we feel the city and the boroughs don't talk to each other. We have a very clear plan, and we've been starting already to make proposals about this. It's about having experts that check all the roadwork as it's happening.

One of the things that people [ask] me a lot is, 'Why are we doing all the roadwork, and then after we hear that it is not properly done and we have to do it again?' So Montrealers are willing to deal with the negative impact of all this roadwork, but they want to make sure it's being done properly.

Valérie Plante put up posters in August using the slogan that read: 'L'Homme de la situation.' That translates, in English, to 'The right man for the job.' (Radio-Canada)

MF: You have some posters up that read: The right man for the job. Why man?

VP: Because it's a well-known expression. Today, unfortunately, we don't say "the right woman for the job" or "We'll put our best woman on it." We still continue to use the male expression, and I wanted to play with that.

MF: Do you think that people have trouble seeing a woman as a mayor?

VP: Nope. And I think it's good to remind them, even today, there's never been a woman mayor of Montreal. There's never been a woman in that leadership seat and I'm willing to take it. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

With files from CBC Daybreak