Laval’s Official Opposition leader Michel Trottier edged out Mouvement Lavallois (ML) star candidate Bruny Surin to take the Marc-Aurèle-Fortin seat in a by-election last Sunday.
Trottier was Parti Laval’s city councillor for Fabreville before a losing mayoralty bid in 2017, and takes the seat vacated by the death last summer of ML incumbent Gilbert Dumas. The former school principal won with 1501 votes (or 35.28%) versus Surin’s 1419 ballots cast. Action Laval’s Francine Leblanc came in third with 1251 votes while Gabriel Vellone of Progrès Laval garnered a paltry 83 votes.
With 16,501 registered electors, the 4254 ballots cast represents approximately 26% turnout in the district, which runs west from Highway 15 to Highway 13, and north from Edith to the Mille Îles river.
An ebullient Trottier says his victory, “Was evident,” he told The Suburban. “We saw it, we felt it with the population, and the message was clear. Whether it’s by one vote or 82. It’s a municipal game-changer.”
He says the message at the doors was one he’s repeated for years: proximity services. “People here want maintained roads, infrastructure, services close to home; not some complex off the highway.” He says Marc-Aurèle-Fortin does not have a proper community center and there are major traffic issues for those trying to reach the 440, despite a decades-old plan on the books for new egress without a 40-minute crawl through Fabreville. “Stop investing in cement and start investing in quality of life.”
Since 2017, Parti Laval’s lone representative on council Claude Larochelle did his best to present non-partisan and sober legislative proposals on a wide array of issues, most often geared towards improved governance and services, with limited success. Trottier says two councillors mean a lot more interesting debates. “Until now we were promoting great ideas but without anyone to second them, they could never move forward in council… We will now be autonomous and bring discussions to council and see how other parties position themselves.”
The result is surely a disappointment for the Demers team, which banked heavily on Surin’s star power to take the seat. But the Olympic gold medalist has only lived in Laval for five years and many observers agree that it was a lacklustre effort on the campaign trail. The ML team now has 14 of 22 seats on council down from 19 after the last election.
Trottier’s victory also means the end of a two-thirds majority for ML, which is required, among other things, to steer council powers into the hands of the executive committee, something Trottier has fought for years, and the naming and dismissal of a director-general.
“We are convinced that Bruny Surin would have made a very interesting contribution to the city council through his experiences, values and beliefs” said Demers. “He has been a champion of healthy lifestyles for a long time. His rigour, his influence and his perseverance would have been assets for his fellow citizens. That said, we respect the choice of the people of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin and wish Michel Trottier a good mandate.”
Trottier will be sworn in December 2 and take his seat at the following day’s council meeting.