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Kramberger: Divisiveness all too evident in some West Island election races

A Pointe-Claire council candidate aptly noted that it's time for people take a deep breath and bring down tensions, lest divisions persist.

The Fairview forest (left of centre), located just west of the Fairview Pointe-Claire shopping centre, is a contentious election issue.

An incumbent city councillor campaigning in the West Island told me that it can be horrible going door to door these days, with all the divisiveness and misinformation going around.

This has only added fuel to such already-heated municipal issues as high-density residential development and green spaces, on top of all the general back-and-forth regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, masks and lockdowns.

The divisions are evident on social media, such as in various local Facebook groups. In Dorval , for instance, there seems to be a split between one group favouring a vote for change and independent candidates and the other for Action Dorval party candidates. I suggest undecided Dorval voters should probably follow both or neither before heading to vote.

Hudson voters were offered the opportunity to watch — in person or online — their three mayoral candidates tackle such environmental issues as Sandy Beach during a live debate that was to be held Wednesday night, hosted by the Nature Hudson citizens’ group.

In Pointe-Claire, two citizens have been attempting to organize a live virtual debate between the city’s three mayoral candidates but — as of Wednesday — to no avail.

West Islanders living in Montreal boroughs should note an English-language mayoral debate — pitting Denis Coderre, Balarama Holness and Valérie Plante — will be held Thursday. Mind you, those living in demerged suburbs might also want to hear more from these Montreal mayoral candidates about how their property taxes sent to the agglomeration might be spent during the new term of office . This debate will be carried live from 5:30 to 7 p.m. by local broadcast media and online platforms, including montrealgazette.com .

Meanwhile, Pointe-Claire’s incumbent mayor and a challenger have been posting their own videos online to share their points of view. Some incumbents have posted comments to address what they deem as rumours or misinformation regarding certain issues of concern, from shopping malls and the Fairview Forest to public transit .

Besides sharing their campaign brochures and platforms online or posting videos, some local candidates have organized their own Zoom meeting to reach out to voters.

A Pointe-Claire council candidate running for the first time aptly noted that with the Nov. 7 election fast approaching, people should take a deep breath and bring down the tension as the level of anger being seen in divisive social media posts could result in a divided city post-election.

Last year, a former Beaconsfield councillor won a settlement in a defamation lawsuit he had launched against an opponent from the 2017 election for posting false accusations on Facebook: a lesson for all, in my opinion.

Let’s all hope for civil discourse among voters and candidates, but that’s unfortunately not always the case, with insults and personal attacks often flying back and forth through social media.

Albert Kramberger is editor of the Montreal Gazette’s West Island/Off-Island section.

akramberger@postmedia.com

twitter.com/akramberger1

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