Montreal’s mayoral candidates, incumbent Denis Coderre and Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante, went head-to-head in an English-language debate Monday night at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall at Concordia University’s Loyola campus.
The candidates delivered their opening statements and started going back and forth on the first issue: construction across the city.
Coderre insisted it is “short-term pain for long-term gain,” while Plante argued Montrealers are paying a high price every day when they are stuck in traffic.
When asked about public transport, Plante didn’t waste any time bringing up her proposal of the pink line on Montreal’s Metro, which would connect Montreal North to Lachine.
The third issue was a controversial one: Montreal’s pit bull ban.
Coderre explained the ban was needed to prioritize public safety, especially after the death of Christine Vadnais.
“The administration completely dropped the ball,” said Plante, adding that targeting a certain breed is wrong.
“Mr. Coderre decided to be stubborn on this issue.”
Plante then argued about the need for tax breaks for local businesses, especially during extensive construction.
“We want to keep our families in Montreal, it’s very important to us,” she said, noting that she would want to reimburse the city’s welcome tax for families.
Coderre insisted he would not abolish the welcome tax, and talked about the city’s strong credit report.
When it comes to receiving services in both English and French, Plante argued she wants to give more resources to the boroughs, while Coderre pointed out Montreal is a French metropolis.
The two agreed pictograms are a good way to avoid language confusion and increase safety on the roads.
Coderre then defended the city’s 375th celebrations.
Plante argued there was a lack of transparency, with many Montrealers wondering “what’s in it for them.”
The incumbent mayor shot back, saying there will be a report to explain all the finances.
Next: do the candidates support the return of baseball to Montreal?
READ MORE: Baseball exhibit opens in Montreal City Hall
Plante said she won’t spend Montrealers’ money to bring a team back without a referendum.
On the other hand, Coderre has never shied away from promoting the sport’s return to Montreal.
WATCH BELOW: Montreal municipal elections underway
On the topic of the provincial government’s controversial religious neutrality bill, both came out against.
Coderre said Bill 62 will only work to stigmatize people and that his “employees are not burqa police.”
Plante called the bill “ill-conceived.”
With foreign home buyers driving housing prices up, Coderre argued there is no “housing bubble” and therefore, an additional tax will not be necessary in Montreal.
Yet, Plante insisted officials in Toronto and Vancouver have said they “acted too late” and she would impose a foreign buyers’ tax.
The candidates were then given the opportunity to ask each other a question.
WATCH BELOW: In-depth interviews with the mayor players
Coderre quizzed Plante about BDS (boycott, divest and sanctions) of Israel, of which she did not clearly respond yes or no.
Plante asked Coderre if he would lead the opposition if she was elected mayor, and the incumbent laughed, responding: “I’m going to be the mayor.”
READ MORE: Mayoral candidates debate on Focus Montreal
The two candidates then moved to their closing arguments.
Coderre spoke of his accomplishments over the last four years.
“Moreover, the number of new projects, programs and policies developed by my administration during our first term is simply impressive.”
During her closing speech, Plante asked Montrealers to “make history together.”
“You can choose a positive vision for the future of your city, which will focus on investing in public transit and housing. A vision of the future that will focus on creating family-friendly neighbourhoods in Montreal,” she said.
He is looking for a second term in municipal politics after spending 16 years as a member of parliament.
“We are not talking about corruption anymore,” said Coderre.
“We have integrity, we’re very fiscally responsible, the team did a tremendous job and now people are happy.”
Valérie Plante is a working mother and says, when it comes time for voters to cast a ballot, there will be no confusing her with Coderre.
“Everything about him and I are different. How we came into politics, how we approach politics. He’s been doing politics for 30 years, it’s kind of the old-school way of doing politics,” she said.
Some of the issues Plante wants to address include improving public transport to curb congestion and traffic while keeping taxes down.
There are eight candidates in the running for the city’s top job.
READ MORE: Understanding Montreal’s municipal elections
On election night, Sun., Nov. 5., Global News will have live coverage and up-to-the-minute results for the municipal elections taking place in Greater Montreal.