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Victory of populist Médéric Martin

Ironically, the limited statutory powers of the mayor, as set out in the charter of 1921, did not prevent incumbents from playing a major role in local political life.  The mayors elected during that period made their mark.

Médéric Martin, who was elected mayor for the first time in 1914, is a good example of that type of charismatic politician.  He was born in Montréal in 1869.  In 1906, he was elected federal member of Sainte-Marie.  He became involved in municipal politics at the end of 1900 and was elected alderman.  The former cigar manufacturer spared no effort to capture the sympathy of electors.  He was elected mayor five times between 1914 and 1928, except for a term between 1924 and 1926.

His first election in 1914 was major turning point in the political history of Montréal.  His victory marked the end of the tradition whereby an anglophone mayor alternated with a francophone mayor.  It also marked the withdrawal of the anglophone business community from the local political scene.  Since 1914, Montréal had been governed only by francophones.

In 1921, Médéric Martin prepared his next re-election by staging a vast banquet attended by over 9000 at the Mont-Royal Arena.  He scored a resounding victory in the October election, but his popularity gradually declined in the 1920s.  He drew away from his electors and was no longer able to kindle the same enthusiasm.

 


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