D'Arcy McGee will have excellent representation in Elisabeth Prass

As expected, the Coalition Avenir Québec swept back to power with a huge majority in the October 3 provincial election. That was a foregone conclusion.

In my riding of D’Arcy McGee, it looked like  we might have had a race on our hands when the campaign began. There was so much anger over how the Quebec Liberal Party handled Bill 96. How many people did I run into who told me they would be voting for either the Canadian Party of Quebec, the Conservative Party or Bloc Montréal?

Elisabeth Prass, with her son, at the voting station.


In the end, the Liberals’ Elisabeth Prass won with more than 52 percent of the vote. Unquestionably, the constituents of D’Arcy McGee  are in good hands. I worked closely with Prass during the time she ran the riding constituency office. She left that post a year ago for the corporate sector so she was not on the job when her predecessor David Birnbaum committed a career ending move by proposing inexplicable amendments to Bill 96 which infuriated the anglophone community.  David is a wonderful human being; someone I consider a friend. He loved his role as an MNA and had no intention of retiring. Unfortunately he had to walk the plank for his misdeed.

The Liberals did not get shellacked as badly as I anticipated in this election. Frankly, I did not  expect them to get more than 20 seats. Instead of focusing on how the party handled Bill 96 in the past year, what will be their position in the next mandate?  The CAQ may have a massive majority, but they could be looking at losses at the court level for Bill 40 (abolishing school boards), Bill 21 (secularism) and yes even Bill 96. Should that occur, the Liberals will benefit as the CAQ licks its wounds.

In this election, the Liberals kept all of their anglo strongholds. If Dominique Anglade keeps her job as leader, she will need to find a way to  bring the francophone population back to the fold. It is safe to say that no matter what position she takes, anglos will not walk away from the brand.

What will become of the Canadian Party of Quebec, Bloc Montréal and the Conservatives? If ever there was an opportunity for anglo rights parties to win a riding, this was their moment. Yet the CAPQ and Bloc Montréal did not get any support at all. Four years from now, with the CAQ completing a second mandate, anglos will not want to roll a dice on any party other than the Liberals. 

The Conservatives opposed Bill 96, but they did not oppose Bill 21 - a big mistake.

As a member of Côte Saint-Luc City Council, I was happy to sit on an ad hoc committee with Councillors Dida Berku, Andee Shuster and Steven Erdelyi. We met with four candidates - Prass, Bonnie Feigenbaum of the Conservatives and Marc Perez of the CAPQ, Joel DeBellefeuille of Bloc Montréal. I did podcast interviews with each of them as well, in addition to the Québec Solidaire candidate. We were engaged. There was one Zoom debate with the candidates, but it did not have a large audience nor an impact on the vote.

D’Arcy McGee has excellent representation in Elisabeth Prass and I look forward to working with her.

You can see the election results here and follow the instructions to get to D'Arcy McGee.



UPDATE: An analysis of the race for the D'Arcy McGee riding in the upcoming Quebec election

With the nnouncement by Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade in Côte Saint-Luc that Elisabeth Prass will be her candidate in D’Arcy McGee, the stage is now set for one of the most interesting riding races in the province.

I was among Anglade’s biggest critics for the exceedingly long delay in selecting a candidate. Incumbent Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum announced in April that he will not seek another mandate. Anglade’s team either turned good candidates down or had others of quality simply decline the invitation. But good things often come to people who wait and Prass is beyond an excellent choice. In fact she checks off all of the boxes for the party in this constitituency, which covers Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and part of Snowdon.

Elisabeth Prass is introduced as the Liberal candidate at a press conference at Trudeau Park.

Prass is Jewish (a large proportion of the voters are), knows the riding intimately (she ran the D’Arcy McGee office  but stepped away months before Birnbaum’s ill-fated amendment to Bill 96 as it relates to CEGEP French courses), is a mom (one of her boys is special needs, which will translate into empathy and understanding for parents in the same boat) and is impeccably bilingual. She also grew up in Côte Saint-Luc. Over the years she’s worked for provincial ministers in Quebec city and knows the game. Full disclosure: she was always a big help to me wearing my hats as city councillor and via my school board post, so I can vouch for her worthiness of this opportunity.

For the first time since Robert Libman won D’Arcy McGee for the then Equality Party in 1989, this riding is by no means an easy mark for the Liberals.

The Canadian Party of Quebec, The Conservative Party of Quebec and Bloc Montréal will all gain the attention of voters looking to switch allegiances over the Liberals’ handling of Bill 96.

Marc Perez
Marc Perez

Marc Perez is the flag bearer for The Canadian Party of Quebec, with political veteran Bonnie Feigenbaum representing the Conservatives and Joel DeBellefeuille for Bloc Montréal. There are reasons too to vote for each of them.

Bonnie Feigenbaum

The Canadian Party of Quebec, headed by Colin Standish, has been front and center as a defender of anglo rights for more than a year now and would be a real thorn in the side of  Premier Francois Legault and the CAQ. There are many people who have told me they will park their vote there.

Under the leadership of Eric Duhaime, the Conservatives will win some seats in this election and Legault fears them. That is a good thing. Duhaime has come out strongly against Bill 96, but not so on Bill 21- the obscene religious symbols  law. The good news is that he will let his candidates take whatever position they want. So Feigenbaum plans to campaign against Bill 21 and get other candidates from the party to follow her. But that policy of Duhaime is also the bad news, for some of his candidates have some pretty wacky views.

Joel BlocMTl
Joel DeBellefeuille

As for the Bloc Montréal, represented by Joel DeBellefeuille, of course we must admire the perseverance of leader Balarama Holness. He ran on an anglo rights plank for mayor of Montreal and is doing the same here. However, by not signing a non-agression pact (something Balarama told me he would pursue) it is likely the Canadian Party of Quebec and the Bloc will cancel each other out. And that is the best news Prass could ask for. By vying for the same vote to oust the Liberals, these two parties stand to do the exact opposite.

DEBATE: Calvin Finkelstein, Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, Québec Domain, and Marvin Rotrand, National Director of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada, have announced the two organizations will host a joint candidate debate for D’Arcy-McGee riding, It will be held on Thursday, September 22 at 7 P.M, by ZOOM. The agreed upon format will see candidates briefly speak about themselves and their party platform and then take questions from the audience.

Confirmed participants are: De Bellefeuille, Feigenbaum, Perez, Prass and  Hilal Pilavic (Québec Solidaire). 

During the campaign I have been filing podcast interviews with these candidates so stay tuned.

Here is my first one with Bonnie Feigenbaum 

Here is my podcast with Elisabeth Prass

Here is my podcast with Marc Perez

Here is my podcast with Joel DeBellefeuille



Reflecting on what life is like as city councillor on the eve of a fifth mandate

For the past 16 years I have measured my life in elections. Wow, how quickly a four-year mandate comes and goes.

I was first elected in 2005 as the city councillor for District 2. Twice I faced opponents and three times I was acclaimed, most recently on October 1. A huge thanks to my father-in-law Reuben Spector, who has served as my campaign manager for all five elections. Without the support of my wife, daughter and mother-in-law none of this would have been possible.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 and simply did not go away, I wondered how we would even manage to hold an election.  But life has gone on with new precautions. I personally started my re-election efforts in the summer of 2020 when I decided to walk the entire district at least five days a week with business cards and a pen and paper in hand. This included regular stops at the well-utilized Rembrandt Park and engaging in dialogue with every person I met, be it someone walking by or sitting on their balcony. I took note of potholes, damaged sidewalks, lights that did not work and speeding vehicles.

My opponent from 2017, Melodie Cohn, supported my re-election bid.


I also turned to Zoom, creating my own District Advisory Council with reps from all buildings and streets. It proved to be an excellent exchange of information. I write this blog, host a podcast and have multiple Facebook pages.

Council meetings and committees moved to Zoom and while we will go back in public soon, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and our council led the way in COVID-19 safeguards. Our online meetings resulted in more citizens following our activities.

 I formally launched my 2021 re-election campaign last June, with a committee in place. While I stepped up my walkabouts, door to door began after Labour Day with visits to homes and some meet and greets at apartment and condo buildings.  The message was loud and clear: please do not come walking down our hallways during a pandemic.

It has  been my adage that a city councillor should always be in election mode, responding to every inquiry regardless of when the next vote may be. When I got calls at midnight on a freezing winter night that a new high rise had its generator making so much noise people could not sleep I got dressed, drove over and recorded a YouTube video. That was sent to the building owners and our inspectors at City Hall. Action was taken.

I am honoured to have been acclaimed again this year. It is my sincere hope that the efforts I make during my 48 months in office contribute to that.

Chatting with constituents like prominent oncologist Dr. Nathanial Bouganim, make my walkabouts that much more pleasant


This election campaign began in September 2020 when Councillor David Tordjman met a Global TV reporter at a park and announced he would run for Mayor. Incumbent Mayor Brownstein waited a full year, until September 17, 2021, to declare his re-election plans.

There were races for mayor and in seven out of eight districts. Tordjman had a team of five candidates. One dropped out two weeks before the vote. That meant Councillor Steven Erdelyi was acclaimed in District 4, he too having now served for 16 years.

You can see the results here 

When all was said and done, just less than 9,000 residents voted out of about the 24,000 eligible.

Returned to office was Mayor Brownstein and Councillors Oren Sebag, Dida Berku, Mitch Kujavsky, Sidney Benizri, as well as myself and Erdelyi.  Our two newcomers are Lior Azerad and Andee Shuster.

Congratulations to all of the candidates. Some people wonder why candidates get acclaimed. Ask anyone who runs for public office. This is no simple task. You must be able to finance your campaign to print posters and literature; open a  bank account; get the posters affixed to poles; go door to door at least five days a week, followed by hours at home reviewing your lists; volunteers need to be enlisted to accompany you; after the campaign detailed financial reports need to be filed; and on advance poll and election day, you are on the clock for a good 16 hours.

You need a good team to get those posters up.


If you get elected, being a councillor is no easy task. The phone calls and emails roll in non-stop. There are multiple meetings and commitments to attend. You are a moving target for complaints wherever you go and in this day in age, there is consistent abuse via social media. Family time is constantly disrupted. It is all enough for some people to say, “this is not for me.”

I have been a community activist all  ofmy life and I am proud to serve in this position. Indeed, I take pride knowing how many initiatives I have been able to push through these past 16 years,.

The next mandate will be busy, starting with proposals to redevelop our three major malls – Quartier Cavendish, Decarie Square and the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre. There is major work coming from Hydro Québec and much more. Our online portals will this easier to communicate, especially in the cold winter and for Snowbirds who can remain in the loop.

The first meeting of our new council will take place next Monday night, November 15 at 8 pm. Stay tuned to www.cotesaintluc.org for the live YouTube link.

Mike Cohen 2021 Re-election Page/Réélire Mike Cohen - District 2


Please click on the links below to follow my re-election campaign

I have been re-elected by acclamation/Je suis ravi de vous annoncer que j’ai été élu par acclamation 

Seeking my fifth mandate on city council/Je solliciterai un cinquième mandat en tant que conseiller municipal

We need a crossing guard so I gave it a try/ Nous avons besoin d'un garde-barrière. See video.

Those aged 70 plus can vote by mail/le vote par correspondance pour l’élection municipale de 2021

Scenes from the campaign trail

Listen to my special podcast series



Proud to Declare My Candidacy For a  Fifth Mandate on City Council/Je solliciterai un cinquième mandat en tant que conseiller municipal de Côte Saint-Luc

I am pleased to announce officially that I will be seeking my fifth mandate as the Côte Saint-Luc City Councillor for District 2 in the November 7, 2021 Municipal Election. It has been my honour to serve the area in which I reside since 2005. My campaign team is already in place, with representation from every building, town house complex and street in the district. Thanks to everyone for their support over the years.  

I grew up in Côte Saint-Luc and have lived in District 2 for over 24 years,  first winning election to council with 92 percent of the vote. I have a long record of extensive involvement in setting up municipal programs as a volunteer, as a journalist and communications specialist, as well as a city councillor.

District 2 encompasses Merrimac, Rembrandt., Kildare  (between Marc Chagall and Honoré Balzac), Sir Walter Scott,  Ilan Ramon, Marc Chagall, Mackle  (between Cavendish and Brandeis),  Quartier Cavendish Mall, Cavendish (Le Montefiore, Manoir Camelia, L’Excelsior), The Avenue,  Jubilee, Park Place, Honoré-de-Balzac..

See my video announcement here


Je suis heureux d'annoncer officiellement que je solliciterai un cinquième mandat en tant que conseiller municipal de Côte Saint-Luc pour le district 2 lors de l'élection municipale du 7 novembre 2021. C'est un honneur pour moi de servir le quartier dans lequel je réside depuis 2005. Mon équipe de campagne est déjà en place, avec des représentants de chaque immeuble, complexe de maisons de ville et rue du district. Merci à tous pour leur soutien au fil des ans

J’ai grandi à Côte-Saint-Luc, habité dans le district 2 pendant plus de 24 ans et été élu au conseil municipal en 2005 avec 92 % des voix. J’ai participé activement à la mise en place de programmes municipaux en tant que bénévole, en tant que journaliste et spécialiste en relation publiques et en tant que conseiller municipal.

Le district 2 comprend Merrimac, Rembrandt, Kildare (entre Rembrandt et Marc Chagall), Sir Walter Scott, Ilan Ramon, Marc Chagall, Mackle (entre Cavendish et Brandeis), le Quartier Cavendish, Cavendish (Le Montefiore, Manoir Camelia, L’Excelsior), ch. du Jubilé, Place Park Place, L’avenue et Honoré-de-Balzac.

Voir mon annonce vidéo ici


Electors 70 years of age and older will be able to vote by mail in November municipal elections

At last week's monthly public council meeting, we unanimously adopted a resolution which will permit electors aged 70 and over to vote by mail in the November 7, 2021 municipal election.

I worked diligently with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and our Assistant City Clerk Jason Prevost to lobby the provincial government to allow this, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must thank  our Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, who worked with his party's Municipal Affairs Critic Marie-Claude Nichols, to push this through. It was a compromise. We felt that everyone should have this right.  Regrettably, the Union of Quebec Municipalities failed us miserably. Initially,  the CAQ government was only going to permit vote by mail for seniors living in CHSLDs or private nursing homes and people with reduced mobility who can’t travel.


During hearings for the bill, the UMQ merely accepted that option and ignored communications from people like me to take a more aggressive stance. Shame on them! You can read their pitiful response below. Essentially it says they accepted that compromise and that there were too many obstacles to go any further. Well lucky we had David Birnbaum to turn to. In Montreal, Mayor Valerie Plante is resisting requests for vote by mail for 70 plus from the opposition.

Here is the UMQ  response to the initial CAQ plan: "This piece of legislation allows the most vulnerable people to exercise their right to vote by absentee ballot while remaining in their homes. This is very good news. In an ideal world, it would have been desirable for this measure to be extended to the entire population. However, there are a number of logistical and organizational constraints that we believe may affect the integrity of the vote, especially with the limited timeframe we have before us. We do not want municipalities to be used as a pilot project for large-scale absentee voting. For the Union, it was essential that the expansion of absentee voting be allowed to occur while ensuring the integrity of the vote. It is this balance that Bill 85 has managed to achieve." 

Clearly, according to the UMQ, a global pandemic is not the time to enact a vote by mail system.

During the electoral period beginning in September, electors will have to request to get a ballot they can mail in. The number of advance polling days will also be expanded.

You can watch our commentaries on the resolution at the 1:15 mark of this video from our council meeting.

Below are the complete resolutions


WHEREAS the National Assembly of Quebec passed Bill 85 on March 25, 2021 entitled An Act to facilitate the conduct of the 7 November 2021 municipal general election in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;

WHEREAS the Act to facilitate the conduct of the 7 November 2021 municipal general election in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to modify, by regulation, a provision of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (C.Q.L.R., chapter E-2.2.) (“Act”) including voting by mail for electors 70 years of age and older;

WHEREAS on April 30, 2021, the Regulation amending certain municipal provisions to facilitate the conduct of the municipal general election of November 7, 2021, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (“Regulation”) was published on the Gazette officielle du Québec;

WHEREAS the Regulation modifies the Act to include the possibility to allow, by request, voting by mail for electors 70 years of age and older where a resolution of a municipality is passed by virtue of par. 2 of section 659.4 of the Act;

WHEREAS the adoption of this resolution by the Côte Saint-Luc City Council will satisfy the requirement of the Act to allow voting by mail, by request, for Côte Saint-Luc electors 70 years of age and over;

WHEREAS it is in the interest of Côte Saint-Luc's democracy that electors have more alternatives to exercise their right to vote given the City’s high population density and high population of senior citizens;

WHEREAS allowing voting by mail is a safe way for electors to exercise their right to vote in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and will increase voter turnout;

It was



"THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council adopts the present resolution to allow any elector 70 years of age or older to vote by mail by request as it is permitted by the Regulation and the Act."


ATTENDU QUE l’Assemblée nationale du Québec a adopté le projet de loi 85 le 25 mars 2021 intitulé la Loi visant à faciliter le déroulement de l’élection générale municipale du 7 novembre 2021 dans le contexte de la pandémie de la COVID-19;

ATTENDU QUE la Loi visant à faciliter le déroulement de l’élection générale municipale du 7 novembre 2021 dans le contexte de la pandémie de la COVID-19 autorise le Directeur Général des Élections à modifier par règlement une disposition de la Loi sur les élections et les référendums dans les municipalités (R.L.R.Q., chapitre E-2.2) (« Loi ») dont notamment afin de permettre le vote par correspondance pour les électeurs âgés de 70 ans;

ATTENDU QUE le 30 avril 2021, le Règlement modifiant certaines dispositions en matière municipale afin de faciliter le déroulement de l’élection générale municipale du 7 novembre dans le contexte de la pandémie de la COVID-19 (« Règlement ») a été publié à la Gazette officielle du Québec;

ATTENDU QUE le Règlement modifie la Loi afin d’inclure la possibilité pour les électeurs âgés de 70 ans et plus de voter, sur demande, par correspondance lorsqu’une résolution est prise par la municipalité en vertu de l’alinéa 2 de l’article 659-.4 de la Loi;

ATTENDU QUE l’adoption de la présente résolution par le conseil municipal de Côte Saint-Luc permettra de satisfaire l’exigence prévue dans la Loi permettant le vote par correspondance sur demande aux électeurs de Côte Saint-Luc âgés de 70 ans et plus;

ATTENDU QU’il est dans l’intérêt de la démocratie de la Ville de Côte Saint-Luc que les électeurs disposent de plus d’alternatives pour exercer leur droit de vote compte tenu de la forte densité de population de la Ville et du nombre élevé de personnes âgées dans la Ville dans le contexte de la pandémie de la COVID-19;

ATTENDU QUE le fait de permettre le vote par correspondance est un moyen sécuritaire pour les électeurs d'exercer leur droit de vote dans le contexte de la pandémie de COVID-19 et qu'il augmentera le taux de participation des électeurs;

   Il fut


                           APPUYÉ PAR LE CONSEILLER MIKE COHEN

               ET RÉSOLU :

« QUE le conseil municipal de Côte Saint-Luc adopte la présente résolution afin que la Ville de Côte Saint-Luc permette à tout électeur de 70 ans et plus de voter, sur demande, par correspondance, tel que lui permet la Loi et le Règlement. »




Great news for democracy: vote by mail approved for those 70 and over in municipal elections

Score a victory for democracy-- well partial democracy.

Côte Saint-Luc assumed a leadership role in calling for the Quebec government to allow voting by mail in our November municipal elections for everyone who wishes, given the uncertainty of where we will be with the COVID-19 pandemic next fall. Thanks to the opposition Quebec Liberals, a compromise was reached. It is far from perfect, but it will help many of our electorate.

Here is a story in The Montreal Gazette that summarizes the decision.

Should the COVID-19 pandemic drag on even longer, Quebec wants cities and towns to be ready to hold their Nov. 7 elections anyway. This week the National Assembly passed a bill making the campaign rules more flexible.



QUEBEC — With the COVID-19 pandemic lingering, the Legault government has given cities more flexibility in the organization of the November municipal elections, including the authority to allow citizens over the age of 70 to vote by mail.

MNAs this week adopted Bill 85 which, among things, gives municipalities the option of offering the mail-in ballot option to older citizens. Municipalities have to pass a council resolution opting for mail-in balloting by July 1 to make it happen.

The expanded mail-in option was added at the last minute in the form of an amendment, which passed Wednesday in a vote. The score was 118 MNAs for, zero against.

The bill’s passage was overshadowed this week by the presentation of the Quebec budget.

“It is difficult to know what the public health situation will be for the next general municipal election,” Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest said in a statement to the Montreal Gazette.


“As minister, I had to put in place the conditions to ensure this major event happens. Regardless of what happens, thanks to our Bill 85, Quebecers will be able to participate in the municipal democratic process in safety and knowing the integrity of the vote is assured.”

The amendment to the bill was proposed by the Liberal MNA for Vaudreuil, Marie-Claude Nichols, the critic for municipal affairs. The government accepted the amendment.

It expands the scope of the mail-in ballot option. The initial bill, tabled in February, had the option but only for seniors living in CHSLDs or private nursing homes and people with reduced mobility who can’t travel.

In the debate over the bill, Nichols said her own 76-year-old mother would be afraid to go to a polling station if the pandemic was still happening. Nichols wanted the amendment to including to anyone over 65.

Elections Quebec indicated it would not have time to organize such a system for this election. The compromise was age 70. Elections Quebec had the same view on the issue of electronic or internet voting, which the minister Laforest also favours. There would not be enough time to put the system in place.

Elections Quebec polling shows about 50 per cent of Quebecers support the idea of electronic voting. In the 18-to-34 year-old category, the number is 76 per cent. The tool is seen as a way to boost low participation rates.

Bill 85, however, includes other clauses to ease voting in a pandemic.

To take into consideration voting by mail, the election period is expanded from 44 days in total to 51. Additional voting days will be added to avoid crowding at polling stations.

To avoid contact, fewer election workers will be on site and it will require fewer signatures to become a candidate to avoid door-to-door contact.

Finally, voters will be allowed to use their own pencils to vote.

“The last year has taught us the importance of being able to rapidly adapt to any scenario, even those which seemed impossible,” Quebec’s chief electoral officer, Pierre Reid, said in a statement.

Voters in 1,100 municipalities including Montreal go to the polls Nov. 7 to fill 8,000 elected posts.

[email protected]

Quebec's vote by mail plan does not go far enough as Newfoundland situation shows us

Only days after I moved a resolution for Côte Saint-Luc City Council to support mail-in ballots for the November 7, 2021 municipal elections, the Quebec government did introduce legislation that definitely goes in the right direction,

Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest tabled Bill 85, which expands the list of people eligible to vote by mail and gives Quebec’s chief electoral officer more leeway to adapt the process to the new reality. As reported in The Gazette by Phil Authier,  Bill 85 proposes to add to the list of people eligible to vote by correspondence. Under the current law, the only people who can vote by mail are those who have temporarily left their home base to work or study elsewhere, or who live in CHSLDs, physical rehabilitation centres or hospitals. Under the new bill, the list would include people living in private seniors’ residences, those unable to move because of health reasons and their caregivers, and people who have to self-isolate because of COVID-19 under public health regulations. The bill also allows the chief electoral officer the option of adding polling days and days for advance polls, and allows them to pick larger voting locations to allow for social distancing and to adjust polling stations’ hours in order to avoid crowds.



Let's be honest here.  Who would have thought nearly one year ago when the pandemic changed our lives forever that we would still be dealing with this virus. Sure, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promises us that everyone will be vaccinated by the end of  September. That could very well change to the end of December and impact election turnout significantly.

Bill 85 needs to be expanded in order to allow anyone who requests the right to vote by mail to do so.

Look no further than what is happening now in Newfoundland and Labrador where election officials have cancelled in-person voting a day before many polling stations were set to open, in response to an alarming rise of COVID-19 cases in the province. Elections Newfoundland and Labrador said Friday evening that the provincial election will now shift entirely to mail-in voting, with ballots being accepted until March 1. Voters have until Monday at 8 p.m. to apply for voting packages, according to a statement from chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk, extending a deadline originally set for Saturday night.

With all of the new variants surfacing, who is to say that the vaccines will even be completely effective. There has already been talk that we might require an annual COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

The Quebec government has a chance now to avoid having to enact last minute changes to voting like Newfoundland and ensure that everyone has access to vote by mail next November. It is the prudent measure to take!

I have shared these comments with our D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum and I hope he can make the point as Bill 85 will only be adopted in the spring.

See this article in La Presse, where Councillors Marvin Rotrand and Lionel Perez agree it does not go far enough. The president of the Union of Quebec Municipalities, Suzanne Roy, needs to speak out louder and not give the government any excuses.


Marvin Rotrand


Councillor Rotrand has written this letter to  the Premier. Bravo Marvin!


15 fevrier 2021


François Legault

Député de L’Assomption

Premier ministre du Québéc

Conseil exécutif

Édifice Honoré-Mercier

835, boulevard René-Lévesque Est

3e étage

Québec (Quebec)  G1A 1B4


Monsieur le Premier ministre,


I am writing to you on behalf of many colleagues to ask for your personal intervention to assure the health and safety of Quebecers for this autumn’s municipal elections.


You are undoubtedly aware of the dire situation in Newfoundland and Labrador that caused the Chief Electoral Officer to abruptly cancel the provincial election 12 hours before polls were to open. 


Elections Newfoundland and Labrador feared that the risk of a spread of a variant of COVID was so high that it cancelled all in person voting, and decreed that the election would operate via voting by mail only with ballots to be returned by March 1.


However, that province does not have a legislative framework to cover an election only by mail and already there are serious concerns from the candidates as to how the process will work. The lack of preparedness may comprmise the results.

Recently your Government introduced Bill 85. Rather than allowing voting by mail for all voters, the bill proposes to allow it as an option for those residing in CHLSDs, other private seniors' residents, some health care workers and those who must quarantine because they have COVID - in other words a truly tiny percentage of the entire population.


It is truly optimistic to think COVID will be totally banished by November. The possibility that vaccinations proceed more slowly than anticipated and of new variants that complicate the public health response are real. 


Moreover, a lack of public confidence in voting in person even after a successful effort to vaccinate could depress turnout in the municipal elections.


While voting by mail is proven to increase voter participation, I believe your intervention should be on the basis of prudence - that Quebec be ready for any eventuality and that a voting by mail be available to Quebecers that would provide a safe way to cast votes. Preparing now for voting by mail would be an insurance policy against an unanticipated future wave of COVID.


Voting by mail has increased everywhere in the past years as it has proven not only safe but secure as well- except Quebec. In the United States we saw a record turnout in the November 2020 elections largely due to voting by mail. We saw the same in the British Columbia election last October and now Newfoundland will reschedule its vote and have it only by mail.


Five Canadian provinces allow municipalities to decide on their own whether to allow voting by mail. Five United States jurisdictions allow only voting by mail and have done so since 2020. 


Montreal Council has twice expressed its openness to voting by mail and in the circumstances of a pandemic that lingers and has caused never before seen hardships for the population, it is time to have a second look at Bill 85.


I urge you to consult the Directeur General des Elections du Quebec and the leaders of the opposition parties. I believe Quebecers will agree that the prudent measure is to enlarge voting by mail for the November 7 municipal elections.


Veuillez agreer, Monsieur le Premier ministre, mes sentiments les plus distinguees.




Marvin Rotrand

Conseil municipal - Snowdon

Ville de Montreal



Laval Resolution

In Laval City Councillor David De Cotis has a resolution  set to go before the next meeting.

The link is below.







Côte Saint-Luc supports vote by mail system for next municipal elections

The City of Côte Saint-Luc was the first municipality in the country to implement mandatory mask wearing.

As Mayor Mitchell Brownstein stated, “we are leaders when it comes to measures regarding COVID-19.”


Municipal Elections are scheduled to be held in Quebec municipalities on November 7, 2021. On Monday night we  adopted a resolution calling upon the Quebec government to permit voting by mail upon request.

Yes, the elections are  10 months away,  but does anyone really believe that we will be pandemic-free by then?  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promises us that every Canadian wlllbe vaccinated by the end of September. I do not believe him. The Quebec government has decided not to give people who had their first shot  the booster that Pfizer and Moderna recommended. Then there are the new variants.

“We have no guarantee we won’t be in a red zone next November,” St Laurent Borough Mayor  Alan DeSousa said recently.. “But you need to do the planning ahead.” 

Trudeau might call a snap election. Federally voting by mail is permitted. We saw it done successfully in British Columbia and the United States.  So why can’t Quebec allow this too?

The Union des municipalités du Québec is pushing very hard on the issue. Montreal, Laval, Longueil, St. Laurent and others support this. So what is the problem? If Quebec cannot get its act together on this dossier then perhaps they should consider delaying the vote until the fall of 2022.

Côte Saint Luc has a senior population of over 10,000  who are at greater risk to the effects of COVID-19.  Even if they are all vaccinated, what happens if the new variant still makes them vulnerable to catch the virus? How will we conduct door to door campaigns? Will people be willing to work at polling stations and serve as scrutineers?

Our city council  wishes to ensure a safe electoral process and  promote democracy with the maximum possible participation.  In  order to allow for mail in ballots, the Quebec government must modify the applicable law pertaining to elections for all municipalities. 

We can only hope that the Quebec government consults with the UMQ and concerned municipalities without delay!

We should all be concerned about Quebec's lack of a response regarding votes by mail for next election

Note: This article in The Gazette by Linda Gyulai should have us all concerned about why the province is dropping the ball to ensure that municipal elections allow for mail-in ballots. Failing that, perhaps they should be postponed to the spring of 2022. Will door to door campaigning be possible next fall? Will people even want to work at the polls? The way the vaccine rollout has started, I am not completely confident that everyone will be given the jab by next November.


Elections in Quebec’s 1,100 municipalities are still 10 months away, but time is running out if the province plans to offer mail-in voting as an option for anyone who doesn’t feel safe voting in person.

The United States and British Columbia, which held elections in the fall, saw record numbers of voters cast their ballots by mail because of the pandemic. But those jurisdictions already had a system of mail-in balloting in place. Quebec legislation doesn’t currently allow residents to vote by mail in a local election in their municipality.

Voting by mail is crucial in a pandemic. Why is Quebec not ready?

“The deadline is starting to be tight,” Suzanne Roy, president of the Union des municipalités du Québec, told the Montreal Gazette after her association’s board decided in December to support mail-in voting among a host of measures to encourage turnout in the Nov. 7, 2021 municipal elections.

The UMQ, which represents 85 per cent of the population of Quebec through its member municipalities, passed a resolution that month formally calling on the provincial government to enact legislation that would permit voting by correspondence.

The UMQ resolution also calls for government support on six other measures to facilitate voting. They include studying the possibility of electronic voting from home, opening polling centres in seniors’ homes, adding more advance polling days and extending voting hours at polling centres. The resolution also appeals for any other safety measures that would eliminate lineups and make people feel more at ease, such as by offering more places to vote. And it calls on the government to allow municipalities to use a portion of the $100 million set aside for pandemic response in 2021 to help finance the voting measures proposed by the UMQ.

Roy, who is mayor of Ste-Julie, said public safety is one reason the association’s board, which includes the mayors of Montreal, Laval, Quebec City and Longueuil, supports mail-in voting and the other measures. But another consideration is pragmatic, she said: less than one out of every two eligible voters in Quebec, on average, casts a ballot in a municipal election, and the pandemic will likely only dampen enthusiasm.

“We don’t know what state we’ll be in with the pandemic, so we have to avoid people gathering when they vote,” Roy said.

At the same time, she said, “we have to make sure the vote is as accessible as possible. That’s why we’re suggesting that we promote voting by correspondence. Even if it’s expensive to set up, we think it could offer a solution for people who are afraid.”

The Quebec municipal elections law offers people who own property in a municipality but don’t reside there the chance to vote by mail. But the option is only available if the municipality opts in to allow out-of-towners a vote by post.

The city of Montreal tried mail-in voting for non-residents in the 2009 election, and abandoned it after only 1,215 voters out of 33,021 eligible non-resident voters sent in ballots.

In B.C., 662,000 votes were cast by mail in the provincial election in October — 100 times the 6,500 mail-in ballots that were cast in the province’s 2017 election. PHOTO BY DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS
The UMQ’s suggestions require provincial approval. And Roy said her organization plans to follow up with the government.

For example, municipalities can’t unilaterally decide to extend advance polling by, say, a week or a month. A Quebec decree passed in October and applicable only to municipal elections during the pandemic allows for up to five days of advancing polling between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2. The decree also allows a municipality to add one additional election day, on Nov. 6. So a municipality must offer a minimum of two days to vote in 2021 — the Nov. 7 election and an advance polling day — and a maximum of seven voting days that include two election days and five advance polling days.

The government’s October decree opens the window slightly to voting by mail during the pandemic, but only for people in hospitals and nursing homes and those ordered into self-isolation, and only applying to byelections so far.

Mail-in balloting temporarily replaces bedside voting normally available in seniors’ residences and hospitals, according to a 41-page guide the municipal affairs department issued in the fall with recommended safe distancing measures for elections during the pandemic.

On Thursday, Quebec’s director general of elections announced byelections in two municipalities, in Saint-Calixte and Beauharnois, to be held on Feb. 21. Anyone qualified to vote by mail in those byelections must make the request to their local chief returning officer no later than Feb. 11.

However, even if the government allows the stopgap measure to be applied in the November general elections, Montreal city councillor Alan DeSousa said the impact of offering mail-in voting only to people in nursing homes and hospitals or in mandatory isolation “would be extremely limited.”

“It doesn’t help senior citizens at large,” he said. “Clearly, it doesn’t deal with the concerns of seniors living in the broader community and people with pre-existing medical conditions.”

Moreover, the decree doesn’t amend the municipal elections law, DeSousa noted. So once the emergency health crisis ends and the decree is no longer in effect, Quebec municipalities will go back to holding elections on a single voting day plus one or two advance polling days. Mail-in voting will once again only be available to non-residents, and only in municipalities that opt in, he added.

DeSousa said the popularity of mail-in ballots in the U.S. and B.C. elections ought to convince the authorities in Quebec to make it available to all municipal voters this November and beyond.

An unprecedented number of Americans voted by mail in the U.S. elections and contributed to one of the country’s highest election turnouts since 1900.



In B.C., 662,000 votes were cast by mail in the provincial election in October — 100 times the 6,500 mail-in ballots that were cast in the province’s 2017 election.

By DeSousa’s reckoning, time is running out. Municipal chief returning officers need time to organize, recruit staff and inform voters about the process, he said. Canada Post also needs time to prepare to deliver masses of ballots, he said. The city of Montreal alone has 1.1 million eligible voters.

“We have no guarantee we won’t be in a red zone next November,” says Montreal city councillor Alan DeSousa. “But you need to do the planning ahead.” 

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout may well move smoothly between now and September, DeSousa said. But Quebec can’t afford to wait and see before it decides whether to allow mail-in voting, he said. As well, it might be a long time before people feel safe to line up in a polling station again, he said.

“We have no guarantee we won’t be in a red zone next November,” DeSousa said. “But you need to do the planning ahead.”

The province might want to consider moving the deadlines for candidates to file their nomination papers and for voter list revisions to be made, he suggested. Currently, nominations close a month before the election, but the city then needs time to print ballots with the candidates’ names, mail them to voters and allow voters some time to mark their choices and mail back the ballots, he said.

DeSousa began phoning and writing to Montreal officials and the UMQ early last autumn to urge them to support mail-in voting and an extended voting period for the 2021 elections. He also got a resolution passed by city council in October that calls for the city to ask Quebec to introduce whatever legislative changes are needed for alternative methods to vote in the next election. The resolution also calls on the city’s election office to prepare for voting by correspondence, even if it’s not currently authorized.

DeSousa’s resolution followed after another opposition councillor, Marvin Rotrand, got city council to agree to examine mail-in voting for the 2021 election this summer.

However, the council speaker’s committee, which includes representatives of Montreal’s different political parties, dismissed the proposal in August, calling mail-in ballots “interesting” but complicated to implement. The panel concluded that mail-in ballots likely wouldn’t get the people who are the most vulnerable in the pandemic to vote. The committee recommended instead that Montreal “continue the reflection” as part of a provincial committee that includes representatives of the government, Quebec’s director general of elections and the UMQ, and that is working to identify alternatives to traditional voting.

Coincidentally, the director general of elections says it’s studying the possibility of expanding the use of mail-in ballots at the provincial level – permanently – starting in the 2022 general election. Spokesperson Julie St-Arnaud Drolet said the measure would require a legislative amendment. Currently, mail-in voting in provincial elections is available to Quebecers who reside temporarily or permanently in certain remote regions of the province, people who have lived outside of Quebec for less than two years but intend to return, and people in provincial and federal detention centres and youth centres.

Setting up a mail-in ballot system is no small task, the office of Montreal city clerk Yves Saindon, who is also the city’s chief returning officer, says. Saindon’s office gave an exhaustive presentation to the council speaker’s committee in August to show what a pandemic election and a vote by mail would entail.

The city clerk’s office, which said it’s open to mail-in voting if council supports it, worries the pandemic will keep seniors from voting in 2021 but also about its ability to staff the election, the presentation said. Seniors make up a large proportion of the personnel who work on any city election, it said. About one out of seven people who filled 13,000 temporary positions in the 2017 Montreal election was over 70 years old. And if mail-in ballots are added in 2021, Montreal will need to recruit at least another 500 temporary election workers, the presentation said.

The Montreal election would also cost more than the usual $14 million to hold a pandemic election, it said, notably to acquire personal protective equipment for all election personnel. The city’s 2021 operating budget, tabled in November, only specified an additional $450,000 to set up a “student voting office.”

If anything, the city clerk’s presentation shows that Montreal is ill-prepared to hold a pandemic election, DeSousa said.

“Clearly, in these circumstances, more needs to be done,” he said. “It’s important for democracy that these elections be held.”

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