Félix-Antoine Joli-Coeur is the first contender to openly challenge Mayor Valérie Plante for her seat and he says he plans to bring with him a diverse range of candidates in the next municipal election, Nov. 7.
"We have to find new ways to attract diversity in a short period of time," said Joli-Coeur, who has founded the Ralliement pour Montréal party.
"The city council should be and has to be as diverse as possible to actually represent the diversity of Montreal."
His team is still developing a plan on how to attract candidates of all genders, races and ethnicities to join, but one thing is certain, the current council cannot remain as is, with only a handful of visible minorities holding elected office, Joli-Coeur said.
The call for a more diverse council is nothing new to Montreal, but that call is louder than ever before as large-scale protests have been marching through downtown streets — demanding an end to societal inequalities and systemic racism.
The current party in power, Projet Montréal, has been heavily criticized for the lack of diversity among its elected representatives, but Plante said last November that she intends to bring more diversity to council.
And although Ensemble Montréal already has visible minorities in office, party members like Saint-Laurent borough Mayor Alan DeSousa have said the current situation must change.
"Other parties have quite a bit of catching up to do," DeSousa has said.
Looking to improve how city is managed
Joli-Coeur is also promising to improve the way the city is managed. It's a city that is in dire need of improvement, he told CBC Montreal's Debra Arbec this week.
"I love Montreal, but I think we are going under our potential," he said. "The city should be way more cleaner, the snow-removal operation could be swifter."
He threw his hat into the ring with the intention of using his skills and expertise to change the way the municipality is run.
Joli-Coeur is pushing for a stronger partnership with the provincial government to improve the city, including developing the downtown core with larger investments that will help draw people to the area.
Joli-Coeur, a management consultant, has worked with cultural organizations and startup businesses.
While the 42-year-old may not be well known to the public, he's no stranger to politics. He served as an advisor to former Mayor Gérald Tremblay and former Premier Pauline Marois.
Candidate says he's 'outraged' by current situation
Joli-Coeur said he wants to bring a new way of getting the job done to the mayor's office.
"I really bring a pragmatic way of fixing things and bringing innovation and new solutions," Joli-Coeur said.
"I think we bring a new option. We bring fresh air."
In an interview with Radio-Canada, he said he wants to develop a "diverse coalition, a rainbow coalition, to really bring Montreal somewhere else."
He had been interested in taking over as head of Mélanie Joly's former party, Vrai changement pour Montréal, but ultimately changed his mind.
All the old parties are more of a liability than an asset, he said.
"I am outraged by the trajectory that Montreal has taken," he said. "The streets, alleys and parks are extremely dirty."