Countdown to victory: 72 hours with Valérie Plante
“Can you f–king believe it?”
Valérie Plante is backstage at the Corona Theatre. A few minutes earlier, Denis Coderre called her to concede victory. She is now Montreal’s mayor-elect.
The transition of power is already underway. As Plante hugs members of her team, her new security detail looks on.
When she is sworn in later this month, Plante will become Montreal’s first female mayor, in charge of Canada’s second-largest city and responsible for $5.2 billion worth of spending.
But at 9:45 p.m. on Sunday, the enormity of what she’s just accomplished has yet to sink in.
“I don’t even know—,” she stammers. “I think I’ll get emotional later on. I’m just shocked right now.”
CBC’s Sarah Leavitt spent the final 72 hours of the Montreal municipal campaign following Plante. She was given exclusive access to Plante’s campaign events, her campaign headquarters and her home.
Coderre’s campaign declined to accommodate a similar request for access.
This is what the final days of the winning campaign looked like from the inside.
Friday, Saturday on the hustings
With polls suggesting a close race, the home stretch of the campaign involves what Plante’s team says she does best: speaking to citizens.
On Friday and Saturday, she rides the Metro, and visits businesses along Monkland Avenue in N.D.G. and Wellington Avenue in Verdun — two boroughs where she needs to pick up votes if she’s going to win.
She also tours the city’s major markets.
As the campaign wound down, Le Devoir, La Presse and the Montreal Gazette all published editorials endorsing her opponent. Driving from Jean Talon to Maisonneuve market on Saturday, I ask her about the endorsements.
“I don’t think it really matters,” she says from the backseat of the small red Yaris her campaign rented to help the cycling enthusiast get around.
“The endorsements come from the owners of those newspapers and I think they have their interests and they aren’t necessarily the interests of the population.”
- For Valérie Plante, pulling off the greatest political upset in 50 years was easy. Now comes the hard part
Plante’s popularity is based less on establishment support, and more on her charm, and a soon-to-be trademarked laugh.
Before she arrives at the market, a six-year-old boy says he’d vote for Coderre. Ten minutes and one conversation with Plante later, he says he’s changed his mind.
If Coderre is ‘Kid Kodak,’ then he’s in competition with Polaroid Plante, who is stopped almost every minute so people can take a photo with her.