Denis Coderre is the Mayor of Montreal. Let’s all let that sink in, the man who hangs with Club Charbonneau regulars, thinks it’s cool to lock up mask-wearing protestors and once helped make a coup happen in Haiti is now our mayor.

To put it mildly, it’s not the outcome I wanted, not in the slightest. That said, all is not bad, in fact some things could end up being quite good.

We lived through Gerald Tremblay and Michael Applebaum, so we can live through Coderre. They’re really not all that different.

What is different, and this is huge, is that Coderre does not have a majority on the city council. He only has 27 of the 33 seats required for one. Projet Montreal, with 20 seats, is now a very strong opposition, much stronger than they were after the last election.

They are also stronger at the borough level, retaining their control of the Plateau and Rosemont-La Petite Patrie and picking up all the city and borough council seats in Sud Ouest except for that of borough mayor. Projet’s Jason Prince very narrowly lost to incumbent and candidate for Marcel Côté’s Coalition Montréal Benoit Dorais.

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Projet Montreal candidates, now city and borough councillors in Sud Ouest (l-r) Craig Sauvé, Sophie Thiébaut, Anne-Marie Sigouin and Alain Vaillancourt with outgoing Projet leader Richard Bergeron in the centre

Meanwhile in Côte-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Projet’s seat count went from one to two, which also is huge. As NDG councilor Peter McQueen found out last time, one councilor can propose motions, but it takes a seconder for them to be heard and debated and in a council controlled by an opposing party that doesn’t listen to outside voices, that can mean nothing gets through. Now, Magda Popeanu, who beat uber incumbent Helen Fotopulos in the Côte-des-Neiges district and McQueen can support each other.

Projet leader Richard Bergeron won his seat in Saint Jacques in the Ville Marie borough. It was a bold move for him selecting a colistière (or running mate, whose seat the party leader takes if they aren’t elected mayor but their designated co-candidate is elected to council) outside of the safety of the Plateau.

This move paid off, ensuring that he can sit on the council as leader of the opposition. Yesterday, though, Bergeron decided that three elections are enough and he would only keep his seat, and the leadership of Projet, for the next 18-24 months then resign from politics for good.

This inevitably will mean a leadership race, the first in the party’s history. Whomever that leader will be will have to figure out who on the council the — Projet councillors can count on for support, if Bergeron hasn’t already set those particular wheels in motion by the time they take over.

Marcel Côté, whose colistière finished third to Popeanu and Fotopulos, doesn’t have a seat on council himself, but six of his teammates do. Some of them are ex-Union as are many of Coderre’s councillors, so them siding with Projet on key issues is doubtful at best, though you never know.

Mélanie Joly got four city councillors elected: Steve Shanahan in Peter McGill downtown, Lorraine Pagé in the Sault-au-Récollet district of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Justine McIntyre in Pierrefonds-Roxboro’s Bois-de-Liesse district and Normand Marinacci was elected borough mayor if L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, where her party also picked up all four borough council seats. Borough councilors don’t sit on city council, despite potentially bringing some Vrai Changement to Île-Bizard.

Even though Joly finished second for mayor, just a few points ahead of Bergeron and not that far from Coderre, she failed to get a seat on council herself. She ran her colistière in NDG against McQueen, a popular incumbent.

If, instead, she had placed her running mate in Peter McGill, where she has personal political experience (in Shaughnessy Village), she’d have a seat on council today. It’s that kind of decision that led me to believe those (including FTB’s Taylor Noakes) who were and are saying that she had no intention of staying in the municipal arena if she wasn’t elected mayor and would try instead federally with the Liberals (she has worked with Trudeau before).

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Mélanie Joly (photo by Valeria Bismar)

Now, though, it looks like she wants to stick around, after all. She has pledged to run for the first seat on council that opens up and extended an olive branch to Bergeron a day before he said he was quitting.

Olive branches and parties working together are how good things can actually come out of the current city administration. True, as mayor and through mechanisms like the executive committee, Coderre wields considerable power. It’s also true that Côté councilors will probably vote with their former Union Montreal or establishment colleagues, but they are not obliged to.

The Joly councilors, Joly herself and all the independents and borough-specific candidates are wildcards. If Projet could bring enough of those wildcards into their well-stacked deck and create enough groundswell in the districts represented by Côté candidates, then they may be able to bring about positive change whether Coderre wants it or not.

I’m not saying this will be enough to, say, get rid of P6, but it might. It can’t hurt to try with that or with other issues important to Montrealers like transport or the awarding of city contracts.

I’m hopeful. Mainly because this will require a grassroots approach to politics, rather than a top-down one. And that is the type of political approach where Projet Montreal excels.

The results are in. No, not the results that will name the next mayor and city council members Montreal will have for the next four years, those come later tonight.

It’s tradition for the editorial boards of media organisations to endorse a candidate or candidates in elections. This campaign, The Gazette and La Presse endorsed Denis Coderre while Le Devoir, The Link and Le Journal de Montreal came out in favour of Richard Bergeron and Projet Montreal.

Last municipal election, we played the editorial endorsement game. This time, though, we took a broader democratic approach and  let our readers pick for us with a poll in the sidebar of every page of our site.

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Our poll results as of 3pm on November 3

With 163 votes cast a the time this is being written, our readers have endorsed Projet Montreal in the 2013 Montreal Municipal election. The party led by Richard Bergeron got 54% of the vote, followed by Melanie Joly in second place with 18%.

None of the above was third with 9% of the vote, followed by Not Sure Yet and Marcel Côté’s Coalition Montreal, tied with 6% each. There’s An Election? came in fifth with 4%, narrowly edging out Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal, which got only five votes.

It’s interesting to note that in the last two “respected” polls, which came out over three weeks ago and admittedly had a much larger reach than our own, Coderre had a solid lead. It seems that FTB readers are looking for something different in their municipal government.

I’m one of those readers and I voted in our poll (only once, in order to test it, I tried to vote a second time, but it didn’t work, so the numbers are accurate). I, like the majority of those who answered our poll, voted for Projet Montreal and, full disclosure, started volunteering for them in NDG two weeks ago, shortly after making my decision.

Rather than try and figure out why our readers voted the way they did, I’ll tell you how I came to my decision.  Since I voted the same way as the majority of poll respondents, I think it can serve as analysis. These opinions are mine and not necessarily those of everyone involved with FTB or the editorial team. In fact, there are a wide range of opinions in our group.

Our last municipal administration was a disaster and a global embarrassment and not just because our mayor resigned and his replacement was arrested (I honestly needed to use Google to find out the name of our replacement replacement mayor just the other day, I stopped paying attention after Applebaum). I think back to the sudden and unceremonious eviction of Occupons Montreal and then the crackdown on the Maple Spring a year later, including draconian changes to bylaw P6.

I don’t want anyone who was part of that administration back in office. So a good chunk of the candidates running with Corerre and Côté are a no-go for me. Coderre’s personal involvement in the coup in Haiti and his voting with Harper to imprison masked protestors (plus his recent Hasidgate scandal) rule him out as mayor, as does Côté’s politics-as-usual robocall scandal. It seems like our readers agree, as Coderre and Côté finished behind choices that amount to spoiling your ballot.

That leaves Bergeron and Joly. Melanie Joly would be my second choice and she is also the second most popular choice among our readers.

I interviewed her. She is a smart, passionate person who I believe truly does care about her city. I think her nightlife charter is a great idea and one that Projet Montreal would be wise to adopt if they come to power.

While she does support the right to wear a mask at a protest, she agrees with the part of P6 that requires protestors provide a route. Projet, on the other hand, has already tried removing the additions to the bylaw passed during the Maple Spring and originally had tried to scrap P6 entirely. For me, that is a huge plus.

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Joly is not corrupt, though she hasn’t had the chance to be and neither have her team. Projet and Bergeron on the other hand were around during the Tremblay administration and came through the experience skweaky clean with no Projet member as much as mentioned at the Charbonneau commission.

Joly has some big ideas, too, but I like Bergeron’s more. Rapid bus lines wouldn’t work in all the places she is suggesting, whereas a blue line metro extension west and a tramway would, they’re both costed and Bergeron explained to Taylor Noakes how he would push Quebec to make his plans happen.

To be honest, I wouldn’t mind Joly as mayor. If Bergeron wasn’t an option, I’d take her over Coderre any day.

The problem is she’s not running independently for mayor. Instead she’s fronting a party that seems to have been put together overnight. Some of her candidates seem solid, like Sud Ouest borough mayor candidate Cindy Filiatrault. Others less so.

While I don’t have a problem with candidates who used to work in the sex industry, in fact I think transgendered ex-erotic massage therapists running for office is a very good thing, I do have a problem when a candidate is arrested for domestic abuse. Backchecking and a nomination process can avoid problems like that.

Projet, on the other hand, has a solid team, all of them vetted and nominated by members of the party. That’s not to say they’re seasoned politicians, some of them are, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

Projet candidates have roots in their communities which they have big plans for. This is a party of big thinkers who have the means and the will to turn their ideas into reality. People like borough mayor candidates Mike Simkin, Jason Prince and Mary-Ann Davis as well as a slew of other borough mayor, city council and borough council candidates, many of whom we have profiled right here, are why I chose to support PM.

This is not to say that all is perfect. Bergeron has come under fire for comments he made about the anti-police brutality march (which he clarified on FTB) and artists have criticised the Projet team that has run the Plateau for the past four years for excessive fines and restrictions on noise.

While some progressive activists are arguing for spoiled ballots, I think, given the city-wide picture and what’s at stake, it’s best to vote for the party that aspires to make things better in the general sense and has the means and the drive to do it with integrity and transparency and then after they are elected, take advantage of that transparency to hold their feet to the fire.

It seems like those who answered our poll, for the most part, agree with me. Now we can vote (until 8pm) in the only poll that really matters, the election itself.

You can find out where you can vote on the Elections Montreal site

You’ve seen the signs up all over town. You’ve read the candidate profiles on FTB and followed the coverage elsewhere. You’ve seen the polls and hopefully voted in the poll we have in our sidebar (if you haven’t there’s still time).

Now, CBC and McGill University have hosted an English language debate with all the major party leaders. If you don’t know how you’re going to vote or you’re backing a candidate and want to see them shine, it’s worth watching. It runs about an hour.

What did you think of the debate? Who won? Did it change your opinion?