Politics
Montreal mayoral candidates pledge to rid city of corruption

Melanie Joly, left, and Denis Coderre are currently the top two candidates vying to be Montreal's new mayor. Polls close Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Credits: Screengrab/TVA NOUVELLES/QMI Agency

GIUSEPPE VALIANTE | QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL -The Toronto police's claim they possess the infamous Mayor Rob Ford crack video has garnered attention around the world. But Toronto's crack scandal is relatively tame compared with the series of unfortunate events bestowed upon Montreal's voters over the past several years.

The mayor that will be elected on Sunday will be the city's fourth in less than 12 months.

Mayor Gerald Tremblay resigned last November due to corruption allegations, and the man who replaced him, Michael Applebaum, was later arrested and charged with 14 criminal counts relating to alleged fraudulent land deals.

Even City Hall's roof couldn't escape being connected with bribes and organized crime. The entrepreneur who was awarded the right to rebuild the roof recently said a Mafia don demanded $40,000 for the contract -- money that was allegedly destined to pay off two city councillors.

It was therefore not surprising that polls indicated municipal integrity was the top issue for the electorate leading up to Sunday's election.

All four main mayoral candidates have pledged to rid the city of corrupt bureaucrats as well as politicians who have helped make the city synonymous with graft and sleaze.

However, a public poll hasn't been released since mid-October, and it's unclear if the surging second-place candidate, the politically untested Melanie Joly, has been able to pose a serious threat to front-runner Denis Coderre.

The lasted poll placed Joly, a 34-year-old lawyer and media relations specialist, 17 points behind Coderre, a former Liberal Party of Canada cabinet minister.

The other two candidates are Richard Bergeron, leader of the centre-left party Project Montreal, and economist Marcel Cote, who parachuted into the campaign to lead the heavily indebted Vision party, formerly headed by the ex-interim leader of the Parti Quebecois, Louise Harel.

Pollsters told QMI Agency that Coderre's name recognition helped the former federal politician's poll numbers, particularly considering Quebec's controversial secularism charter and rumours of a provincial election overshadowed coverage of the municipal campaign.

But it is also unclear is if the recent string of embarrassing headlines for Coderre will affect his chances on Sunday.

One of his north-end candidates, Robert Zambito was kicked out of the party several days ago after a rival council candidate accused Zambito of offering bribes.

A local paper revealed Thursday that another one of Coderre's candidates, Michel Bissonnet, partied at the house of an infamous businessman often mentioned at the province's corruption inquiry.

Polls close Sunday at 8 p.m. eastern time.

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