Martin C. Barry
With more than two years to go before the next municipal elections, Action Laval – which lost its Official Opposition status in the last election – is claiming the title once again following the arrival of five former Mouvement Lavallois councillors in the Action Laval caucus – raising the total to six.
The five new Action Laval councillors, Paolo Galati (Saint-Vincent-de-Paul), Daniel Hébert (Marigot), Michel Poissant (Vimont), David De Cotis (Saint-Bruno) and Isabella Tassoni (Laval-des-Rapides), are joining Aglaia Revelakis (Chomedey), who was elected under the banner of Action Laval in 2013 and re-elected in 2017.
Strength in numbers
The additions represent a major change in the composition of city council, effectively making Action Laval’s six elected representatives the main opposition group to Mayor Marc Demers’ administration – at least in terms of numerical superiority.
“We never made a secret of our intention to rally all the oppositions in Laval and to create a single large team for the next election,” Action Laval interim leader Achille Cifelli said during a press conference held last week at the Embassy Plaza. “It was part of our plan. Now, we will move forward and offer real listening to all Laval residents and, and most importantly, we will make sure the administration acts in their interests.”
New leadership next year
The plan calls for Cifelli to remain Action Laval’s interim-leader and president until a new leader is chosen by the membership sometime next year. “With six municipal councillors, Action Laval now becomes the main opposition force in Laval,” he said. “The role of our party in the municipal council will change, just as it will with the management of the city and various organizations.”
Chomedey councillor Revelakis, who succeeded in keeping her head high while bearing the Action Laval banner as the party’s only council member these past few years, welcomed the rallying of her five colleagues to the party, as well as the accession of the new caucus as the main opposition to the Demers administration.
‘New chapter begins’
“Today a new chapter begins for Action Laval,” she said. “We will be forming the biggest opposition ever at city hall. United, we will be there to care for the interests of our citizens and make sure that the present administration is accountable for their actions. We will be building the party that will defeat Marc Demers in 2021.”
Speaking on behalf of the five new members of the caucus, David De Cotis (a founding member of the Mouvement Lavallois and former vice-president of the Demers executive-committee) said he and his colleagues considered it was the right time to “turn the page” on their past political allegiances.
A fact-based opposition
“We are now joining an organized and trusted team, with whom we share the values of service to citizens, integrity and transparency,” he said. “We will continue to defend the interests of all Laval residents. But we will be doing it in an objective and responsible fashion by relying on facts.
“We will be rigorous in our criticisms, but respectful in our approach,” added De Cotis. “But mostly we will continue to listen to everyone in Laval. My colleagues Isabella, Daniel, Michel, Paolo and myself we are turning the page on the old political accusations. We are now members entirely of the Action Laval party and its caucus.”
De Cotis won’t run for mayor
Answering journalists’ questions, De Cotis maintained steadfastly that he was not interested in running for mayor in 2021. “It’s something I thought about long and hard,” he said. “When I entered politics it was really to serve the citizens. I feel just fine as the district councillor for Saint-Bruno and I will continue to serve my citizens well.”
While four of the other Action Laval councillors also claimed they weren’t interested in running for mayor, Michel Poissant responded “we will see” when prompted to state whether he’d consider seeking the mayoralty.
Not ‘official’ opposition
Although Action Laval has now become the largest block of city councillors who are unaffiliated with the Demers administration, the Parti Laval (which has only one elected councillor) will continue to be designated as the “official opposition,” since they won that privilege in the 2017 election when they were the second-place party with the largest share of votes.
While the title also allows the Parti Laval to receive a budget of more than $600,000 annually to conduct research and to hire support staff, De Cotis said Action Laval will be conducting research of its own using a team of dedicated volunteers instead of salaried staff.