Martin C. Barry
Action Laval, the political party which finished second in the municipal election three years ago and has been the official opposition at Laval city hall ever since, launched its campaign for next year’s election with a meet-and-greet brunch at The Palace on Nov. 13, drawing up to 800 supporters.
Although Jean-Claude Gobé, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013, previously stated his intention to again seek the mayoralty in November 2017, he has now made it official.
Gobé running again
“Alone before you, with Aglaia at my sides since exactly three years and ten days, it is with great humility that I thank you for your support,” he said, referring to the party’s only current city councillor. “This support strengthens my resolve to represent you once again as candidate for the mayoralty in the election next Nov. 5.”
Gobé also introduced 10 new representatives who will be running in the election, as well as Action Laval incumbent Aglaia Revelakis, who currently is the city councillor for Chomedey where she will be seeking another four-year term.
Revelakis praised her leader for the support she said he provided her in the last few years. “When I joined the team in 2013, he encouraged me and gave me the possibility to realize my dreams and political objectives,” she said.
Kept the party alive
Although Gobé has maintained a low profile since the last election, often sitting quietly in the public seats in the Laval city council chamber during meetings, he has also been a fairly constant presence at a good number of public events, keeping the party in the limelight. While Action Laval succeeded in winning just two seats in 2013, the party took in more than 24 per cent of the popular vote.
Action Laval’s seat count was reduced by half when St-Vincent de Paul city councillor Paolo Galati decided to leave the party and join the Mouvement Lavallois which has the majority of seats on city council. At one point formerly independent city councillor for Fabreville Michel Trottier also joined Action Laval, although he later withdrew and eventually formed the Parti Laval.
Laval’s first opposition
While virtually all the other mayoralty candidates in 2013 dropped out of sight following the election, Gobé points out that he never disappeared completely. “Contrary to others who had run for mayor, I did not resign,” he said in a statement issued to journalists at the launch. “Rather, I chose to support with all my experience Mrs. Revelakis in her remarkable work. With our considerable score, we formed an efficient and constructive opposition, a first in Laval.”
Shortly after the last election when Action Laval was recognized as the official opposition, the party began receiving an annual allotment of more than $600,000 from the city’s budget to pay the salaries of a half-dozen researchers, advisors and political assistants. While Revelakis’s annual salary as a city councillor was around $30,000, documents furnished by the city show Gobé was receiving $42,700 as a “special advisor” to the opposition.
Silent during council debates
In an address, Gobé noted that over the past three years he had little choice but to remain silent during the debates in city council since he had no right to intervene. “During these three years, I’ve had all the necessary time to take stock of the distance separating the bureaucratic preoccupations of the Demers administration and those of Laval residents,” he said, while adding that “the distance is enormous.”
Gobé said regarding Action Laval’s time on the sidelines to the more than 700 supporters gathered before him that “your journey in the desert is over. During this journey, we not only survived. We also knew how to reorganize, become prepared and, most of all, grow in numbers thanks to the dedicated and committed citizens of Laval who believe in our city. Your presence here is the best testimony in this regard.”
The list of new representatives
The 10 new representatives chosen to run for Action Laval are: Vittornio Di Genova (St-Vincent-de-Paul), Achille T. Cifelli (Val-des-Arbres), Stéphane Bacon (Duvernay/Pont-Viau), Julius Buté (Concorde/Bois-de-Boulogne), Elie Sader (Renaud), Sayed Malhem (L’Abord-à-Plouffe), Benjamin Romano (Ste-Dorothée), Kathy Barrette (L’Orée-des-Bois), Micheline Barbar (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin) and Benoit Gauthier (Sainte-Rose). The party says more candidates will be announced in the near future.