Democracy in Montreal from 1830 to the present / ExhibitDemocracy in Montreal from 1830 to the present / Exhibit

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Jean Drapeau and reforms in the sixties

Jean Drapeau took everyone by surprise in the weeks before the 1960 election.  In September, he officially withdrew from the Civic Action League and founded his own party, the Civic Party of Montréal, with 17 councillors.

He scored a resounding victory at the 1960 election.  His party won 44 seats out of 66.  Electors fully supported the abolition of Class C.  The two subsisting classes each appointed three representatives to form the executive committee.

Jean Drapeau clearly stood out from his predecessors.  His style of leadership was marked by a strong desire for efficiency and by a more professional approach to municipal life.  His charismatic personality was a contributory factor in his re-election over the next 25 years. 

As opposed to Médéric Martin or Camillien Houde, who both derived strength from their working class origin, Jean Drapeau had greater affinities with the French-Canadian intellectual elite.  Born in Montréal in 1916, Drapeau earned his Bachelor of Science degree, then was admitted to the Bar in 1944.  As a leading political figure both in Québec and in Canada, he projected an image of authority, based on prestige, respect as well as political integrity.

With the abolition of Class A at the 1962 election, city council was made up of councillors chosen by all taxpayers.  There were now 15 municipal districts, each represented by three councillors.  Electors also decided to extend the term of office of elected representatives to 4 years. 

In keeping with the new administrative changes, the mayor could now submit a list of elected representatives to make up the executive committee.  Since the Civic Party had the majority, the mayor’s choices were automatically accepted.


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