Mouvement lavallois hopeful pledges strong economy, with human approach
In the realm of politics where it’s increasingly difficult to hide the least flaw from scrutiny or Google search algorithms, it would be hard to find two words better than “squeaky clean” to describe Stéphane Boyer.
Currently Laval’s deputy-mayor and vice-president of the executive-committee, Boyer is the duly-anointed successor to Mayor Marc Demers as the Mouvement lavallois’s leader and mayoralty candidate in the City of Laval’s municipal elections on Nov. 7.
Aspiring mayor at 33
One of the things that is perhaps most notable about Boyer is his relatively young age. Currently 33 years old, he could become the youngest mayor in the city’s history.
None of the mayors in Laval’s 56 years (not counting the interim mayors who stepped in briefly after the sudden departure of Gilles Vaillancourt) was as young as Boyer when first elected. Laval’s first two mayors, Jean-Noël Lavoie and Jacques Tétreault, were 38 and 36 years old respectively.
While some members of the City of Laval’s executive-committee have managed to rock the boat politically one way or another over the past eight years, about the only thing of note that a web search for Stéphane Boyer turns up is his decision in August last year to donate nearly $29,000 in fees to Centraide, which he would otherwise have received for presiding the city employees’ retirement fund committee.
‘For the common good’
Although some cynics might interpret this action as a calculated gesture just before an election year, Boyer maintains it was in keeping with his fundamental principles.
“Everything that has guided my life up to today is the common good,” he said. While acknowledging that what he did might have looked politically opportunistic, he noted it wasn’t his first time giving for the greater good by any means.
Stéphane Boyer is part of the first generation of Laval city councillors elected in 2013 under Marc Demers and the Mouvement lavallois banner, after Gilles Vaillancourt’s 23-year mandate ended prematurely.
In 2009, Boyer walked from Percé in Gaspésie to Montreal, a distance of around 1,100 kilometres, to raise money for autism research and treatment. He also been involved in the oversight and management of food banks. “What drives me is the need to make a positive impact around me,” he said.
Roots in Saint-François
Boyer’s family roots are in Saint-François – specifically on rue Boyer where his grandfather lived for around 50 years. Stéphane Boyer himself grew up on a street in Pont-Viau somewhere around the limits of Auteuil and Vimont.
‘One of the reasons I am running is to take action’
When Marc Demers first came into office nearly eight years ago, his first point of order (and an ongoing theme throughout his two terms) was to cleanse the city administration of the corruption that the Charbonneau Commission and UPAC exposed in the more than two decades of governance by the previous administration.
The Laval News asked Stéphane Boyer whether he would be continuing this crusade to the same extent if elected mayor, or if he might be placing more emphasis on economic development and other issues.
Projects to finish
“I believe that Mayor Demers’s biggest accomplishment was dealing effectively with the history of corruption, while getting the city back on track,” Boyer said, adding that Demers brought many of the city’s practices up to modern standards.
“As for me, one of the reasons I am running is to take action,” he added. “We have several good projects underway that we’ve been working on for several years now that are on the verge of being completed and I would like to see them through.
“As I am also someone who is very innovative personally, I would like to see Laval become more innovative. At the same time, there is the economic crisis, as well as the COVID, social and environmental crises. So, I would say this is a key year in Laval not only for projects we’ve been working on for years, but also because with the pandemic many things are going to change and it’s important for Laval to make the right choices.”
‘Social divides,’ says Boyer
Besides his political experience, Boyer has a background in project management and business administration. A graduate of a political communications program at UQAM, he has also done studies in finance. In addition, he has taken part in international student exchange programs, including a stint with a United Nations delegation dealing with crime and drug trafficking in Mexico.
When asked what overall orientation he would give the city, Boyer replied, “To me, it’s a balance between having a thriving, innovative economy that attracts new businesses, balanced out with a very human approach. I think there are lots of social divides right now.”
Dufour still important
A few days before the Mouvement lavallois executive announced that Boyer had been chosen as the party’s mayoral candidate, Sainte-Rose city councillor Virginie Dufour publicly expressed an interest in seeking the nomination.
Boyer said Dufour, who is generally perceived as the third most prominent member of the executive-committee after himself and the mayor, will remain a leading influence should the ML form the next administration. “She and I talked when the race for the leadership started,” he said.
Still working as a team
“We have always worked very well together. Of course, everyone who wanted to was free to become involved in the leadership race. However, we had already come to an understanding around the beginning that as much as possible we would work together.
“Sometimes in political parties, leadership races lead to arguments and rifts. But this was not the case with us. We had already understood at the beginning of the race that we wanted to work together regardless.”