The candidate for mayor of Quebec who was mistakenly projected winner opens up on the experience


Ten days after the municipal elections in Quebec, Marie-Josée Savard revealed her experience of having been wrongly presented as the winner of the race for mayor of Quebec.

Savard lost to Bruno Marchand by only 834 votes. It was a shocking turn of events, as she ran much of the evening. CBC and other media projected a victory for Savard. She even gave a victory speech.

Then it all fell apart.

“For sure that night, when everything changed, I felt like we had taken my heart and put it on the table,” she told Louise Boisvert of Radio-Canada during an interview at her home on Wednesday.

Radio-Canada apologized for the mistake, saying the figures at the time seemed to indicate a victory for Savard.

The pain of thinking she won and then realizing she lost made her take a step back and spend time with family and friends, she said.

“It has been a very long campaign, the family has been neglected,” she said. “It wasn’t easy for me, but it wasn’t easy for them either.”

She said she and her team had spoken about the results. “As much for those who lost as for those who won, we had to do a little group therapy.”

Marie-Josée Savard gave a victory speech on election night, after the media projected that she would become mayor of Quebec. She later learned that Bruno Marchand had indeed won. (Marc-André Turgeon / Radio-Canada)

One of the difficulties Ms Savard faced during the election campaign was that she was the heir to outgoing mayor Régis Labeaume, who had ruled the city for 14 years.

“It was difficult to present ideas that were ours in a debate or to make promises because there was always this link with decisions made in the past,” she told Radio-Canada.

And, she said, it was even more difficult because Labeaume was not always there to defend his record.

However, the former city councilor told Radio-Canada that she was happy with her campaign and that she would not change anything if it had to be done again.

She said she always knew losing was a possibility.

“An electoral campaign for the role of mayor is something quite exceptional,” she said. “Quebec is a beautiful city and I feel privileged to have done this.

Next steps to be determined, says Savard

Savard spoke of her future to Louise Boisvert of Radio-Canada, in an interview she gave at her home in Quebec. (Guillaume Croteau-Langevin / Radio-Canada)

Savard told Radio-Canada that she wished the new mayor and new council the best of luck.

Marchand will lead the town hall with a minority of seats on the municipal council. Only six members of his Quebec Forte et Fière party were elected. He will have to collaborate with 10 advisers from the Marie-Josée Savard Team, four from Québec 21 and one from Transition Québec.

They were sworn in on November 2.

“I send a lot of courage to those who are there, Mr. Marchand and to all the municipal councilors, because it is certain that a council like this one [they have], that’s a big challenge in itself, ”she said.

Savard said she hopes, among other things, that a $ 3.3 billion project to build a streetcar across the city will go ahead.

As for her own future, Savard told Radio-Canada she was uncertain.

“I’m not closing any doors yet, but for sure I won’t be putting my face on a pole anytime soon,” she said with a laugh.

She plans to continue running a restaurant she owns, but has said she will not be working there full time.

“This is the first time I’ve stopped and taken a break in a few weeks,” she said. Savard said she will weigh her options before deciding what she really wants to do next.


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