The mayoral campaign’s biggest promises so far

November’s mayoral election is looming, and Richard Bergeron’s Projet Montréal party just announced 71 wide-ranging promises for the city.

City hall. Photo via Flickr

Christmas has come a little early this year, or at least the gift wishes have. Richard Bergeron’s Projet Montréal unveiled its 2013 election platform yesterday, a 31-page list containing 71 major promises that range from covering over portions of the Décarie and Ville-Marie expressways to extending the metro to Lachine and Anjou.

Indeed, how Montrealers get from A to B is a major preoccupation of the PM platform, which promises to cut the amount of car traffic by 50 per cent downtown and by 25 per cent in other neighbourhoods within 20 years. The party would also cut speed limits to 40 kilometres an hour on main arteries and 30 kilometres on smaller streets,  rip down the Bonaventure, create bicycle “highways,” plant trees and bushes in parking lots, grow more food on rooftop gardens, give the unemployed work cleaning up graffiti and delivering flyers, require obligatory sterilization of pet store cats, dogs and rabbits…

Like I said, 71 promises, most of which encompass several sub-promises. A few hundred in all, covering six major themes: democracy, economy, quality of life, transportation, health and safety, and culture.

I’ve read the whole thing on your behalf (that’s how much I love you), but you can download the entire program here (available in French only), if that’s the kind of reading that turns your crank.

 * * *

It won’t take long before the other parties start attacking the PM platform, but keep this in mind as they do:

1) Projet Montréal is the only party to even have a program at this point, less than 12 weeks before the November 3 vote.

Denis Coderre, who officially entered the race on May 16 but was standing at the starting gates for several years before that, doesn’t have a program for the party he created or the candidates he hand-picked.

Marcel Côté of the Coalition pour Montréal, who reluctantly joined the fray on July 3, doesn’t have a program for himself as the mayoralty candidate, let alone for the ad-hoc coalition he created with Louise Harel, chief of the Vision Montreal party.

Why does this matter? Aren’t they just going to break their promises anyway?

Maybe. But it’s hard to hold someone accountable for their promises when they don’t even bother to make any, or when they sprinkle them randomly on the campaign trail like some kind of magic fairy dust. Neither Coderre nor Côté have given any significant indication of what they’d do as mayor or what their parties stand for. Which brings us to the next point:

2) Even if Coderre or Côté manage to cobble a platform together, it won’t reflect the thinking or philosophy of the party’s candidates or its members. It can’t, because both men are assembling their electoral teams on the fly and the only role they have given party members involves handing over donations for a membership card.

So whether you agree or not with the Projet Montréal platform, any true democrat has to appreciate the fact that there were hundreds of local party members involved in crafting, debating, amending and adopting it.

If the PM program seems overly broad and ambitious, that’s because it represents the party members’ hopes for the future, not the party leader’s cynical assessment of what goodies will get him elected. ■

Peter Wheeland is a Montreal journalist and stand-up comic. His sardonic observations about the city and province appear every Wednesday. Follow him on Twitter, or find out about his upcoming stand-up performances here.

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