Ville-Marie borough mayor Benoit Labonté has announced his intent to run for mayor next November and promises voters audacity. Perhaps the slogan has a better connotation in French but my dictionary suggests “recklessly bold”, “arrogant disregard for normal constraints” and “impudent” among definitions for the term.
Which may be appropriate for a guy who was elected as a member of Tremblay’s party in 2005 only to split two years later
and start his own to take the reins of the opposition party, Vision Montréal. As leader of the opposition, Labonté has bashed the current administration for everything from their lack of financial transparency, to their failure to bow to Devimco‘s demands for assistance on the Griffintown project, to their inability to find $175 million to save the F1.
I have delayed writing about this because I felt I didn’t know enough about Labonté to present a founded opinion. I probably should have taken a tip from Fagstein who pointed out that Labonté really doesn’t seem to stand for much at this point. (I also apologize for using the same Atwater metro ad as Fagstein to illustrate this post. That poster is what tipped me off.)
That said, here are a few things I associate him with:
He’s contributed to the MSO and Equiterre, and he launched the Société de développement social de Ville-Marie, to tackle social issues including homelessness, poverty, and drug and alcohol addiction. However, his cleanliness policy has displaced the homeless out of the downtown centre where most of the resources for homeless and marginalized people are located.
He has promised to cover the Ville Marie expressway, without mentioning that the projected cost is over $100 million. Yet, as far as I can tell, he hasn’t voiced an opinion the controversial Notre-Dame and Turcot highway projects.
The Gazette published his Manifesto for Montreal last month and he as also launched a blog, www.benoitlanbonte.com, on which he posts rather vague, sugar-coated articles relating to his vision for the city (green, culturally vibrant, diverse, well-governed). So far theyhave been met so far with a smattering of flattering comments.
His one concrete proposal so far is to organize an Expo-67 style world fair in 2020 in order to catalyze development projects and fuzzy feelings within the city. The current administration has dismissed the idea in favour of focusing on more immediate priorities. I won’t be surprised if this becomes a pivotal election issue with Labonté accusing Tremblay and Co. of willfully preventing the city from recapturing its 1960s glory days.