'I can handle it': Mayor Plante on thinking big during COVID-19 -- and accepting criticism

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante says she thinks more people agree with her administration's vision for the city than it seems -- but she's listening to all the feedback.

"I did hear what a lot of people had to say about what they like and they don't like right now," Plante said in an interview with CTV News.

"And I will adjust."

There are a lot of decisions coming up in Montreal, as COVID-19 cases began another uptick, and that's after months of already tough decisions, the mayor said. 

She also went into self-isolation herself today after being exposed to other local mayors who tested positive for the virus.

Most recently, policy-wise, she was happy to see that in the province's new alert system, a colour-coded map showing different levels of COVID-19 risk in different regions, Montreal's needs were taken into account.

Montreal authorities "did ask to be consulted, because Montreal is big, so we need to take into account different boroughs, different realities, different languages," she said. "So that I am happy with."

As for the complaints Plante has gotten over the decisions already made during the pandemic, particularly around adding extra bike lanes, she said it's important to think big, but also to be willing to make changes and fine-tune those plans.

"For me it's absolutely normal as a leader to come up with solutions and think outside the box," she said, "but if it doesn't work...we need to fix it."

When asked if she thinks women leaders tend to attract harsher criticism and higher expectations -- a theory some have put forward, seeing the backlash -- Plante didn't dismiss the idea, though she said it's tough to even talk about.

"This is always a tricky question, because [you're] damned if you do talk about this and damned if you don’t," she said. "But some of the criticism I’m getting is really violent and really tied to my gender... it does exist."

With fewer women in powerful positions, she said, maybe standards tend to be higher for them.

"I’m a public figure, I can handle it," she said, "but I'm a human being, so let's be nice to each other."

A recent poll showed that if Plante faced another election now, she'd lose to Denis Coderre. But when asked about it, she said COVID-19 has been keeping her so busy, she hasn't had much time to think politics.

Watch Plante's full interview in the video above.

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