MONTREAL — Quebec's municipal elections are more than a month away, but already hundreds of mayors have been declared winners after nobody emerged to oppose their bids for office.
Preliminary data published on the Quebec government's municipal election page suggested that as of Saturday afternoon, 572 mayoral candidates had been declared elected unopposed, representing over half of the total posts.
A number of municipalities won't have to hold elections at all, since the mayor and entire city council have been elected without challengers.
While many of the re-elected mayors represent small towns, some larger communities also found themselves in uncontested elections.
Those include the Montreal suburbs of Boucherville, Westmount and Montreal West, as well as the city of Joliette, some 50 kilometres northeast of the city.
Alex Bottausci, the incumbent mayor of Dollard-des-Ormaux west of Montreal, wrote on Facebook Friday night that he'd learned he'd been acclaimed for another term.
"I am honoured to have the privilege of serving the residents of Dollard-des-Ormeaux for another four years and look forward to continue working on ambitious projects for our city," he wrote.
Pierre-Luc Bellerose, who won in Joliette, wrote that he was "very proud and honoured" to become the city's youngest mayor.
While the nomination period ended Friday, 11 communities didn't yet have a candidate for mayor as of noon Saturday, while 112 councillor positions across the province had yet to find a taker.
The communities without a candidate for mayor, according to the election website, include Blanc-Sablon in the Côte-Nord region, whose mayor died earlier this year. Lotbinière in the Chaudière-Appalaches region south of Quebec City and Latulipe-et-Gaboury, a 300-person village in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region in the province's northwest, had also yet to find a candidate.
Montreal, on the other hand, has a crowded race for mayor with 10 candidates. They include incumbent Valérie Plante, the first woman to be elected to the post, as well as former legislator and city mayor Denis Coderre.
Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest congratulated the more than 12,000 candidates who chose to run across the province, and encouraged citizens to vote on Nov. 7.
"I am delighted that again this year so many citizens have decided to take this big step towards becoming involved in municipal politics by applying for an elective position," she said in a statement.
She noted that the proportion of women running in the elections has increased to 35.5 per cent of candidates as of Saturday, up from 31.3 per cent four years ago.
Women represent nearly half of the candidates in the 18-to-34 age range, at 49.6 per cent. That representation declines with each subsequent age group, down to 23.3 per cent of candidates aged 65 and over.
Data showed women were more likely to run for council seats than for mayor, although the percentage of mayoral candidates who are women rose to 24.3 per cent this year compared to 19.8 per cent in 2017.
Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible for women, said in the same statement that women's participation in decision-making is "essential for an equitable society."
"Bravo to all those who made the decision to participate in the development of our municipalities for the benefit of citizens," she wrote.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2021
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press