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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — 2021 Quebec Municipal Elections

December 16, 2021

Honourable senators, I would like to take a moment to talk about the Quebec municipal elections that took place in November.

We can certainly say that the winds of change were blowing in Quebec municipal politics, since many women and young people won seats in many of Quebec’s big cities.

With regard to women, 5 of the 10 largest cities in Quebec now have a woman as mayor. In the 22 cities in Quebec that have a population of over 50,000, 10 women were elected mayor. That is 45%, which is very encouraging.

If we look at how things have changed in Quebec since 2005, we see that the number of women on municipal councils has risen from 2,000 to 2,909, which represents a 46% increase.

Although we are far from achieving gender parity in mayoral positions in Quebec, given that only 23% of these positions have been filled by women this year and that 52% of municipal councils do not meet the minimum threshold for parity, the November 2021 municipal elections represent a significant step forward toward gender parity, particularly in the big cities.

With regard to young people, I am also encouraged by the fact that these municipal elections brought in a blast of youthful energy. Three of the ten largest cities in Quebec — Laval, Longueuil and Sherbrooke — are now led by an elected official who is under the age of 35. That sends a very strong message.

It’s worth noting that this year, by electing Isabelle Lessard, who is only 21, the town of Chapais in northern Quebec voted in the youngest mayor in the history of the province. Bravo, Isabelle.

Even though progress is being made mostly in the mid-sized and large cities, we can expect that these powerful images will have an impact and we will do even better next time. The more visible women and young people are in positions of power, the more this will fuel the aspirations of these demographic groups.

The election of Valérie Plante to lead our city in 2017, at the age of 43, certainly has a lot to do with the sense of renewal we felt in November 2021.

In closing, I would like to commend the organizations that work to improve the representation of women and young people in municipal politics. I am thinking about the Union des municipalités du Québec where, as president, I created the Francine-Ruest-Jutras award to recognize exceptional contributions made by women in politics. I am also thinking about the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commission Femmes et gouvernance, which developed a mentorship program and launched various initiatives to encourage young people and women.

I also commend the associations that actively work on improving representation on municipal councils, especially the Groupe Femmes, Politique et Démocratie, led by Thérèse Mailloux and Pascale Navarro.

Thank you.

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