Montreal elects new mayor
Nov 3, 2013 / 9:16 pm
The stewardship of a scandal-afflicted city has now been entrusted to Denis Coderre, the back-slapping political populist who was elected Sunday as mayor of Montreal.
Coderre's knack for grabbing attention has followed him from the federal arena, where he was a perennial purveyor of high-publicity causes and built a huge online following while live-tweeting Montreal Canadiens games.
The former minister and party organizer for the federal Liberals held a five-percentage-point edge in his first attempt at municipal politics.
Polls all year showed Coderre ahead of his lesser-known rivals but the final result wound up tighter than expected, as he took just under 32 per cent of the ballots cast on a day when a clear majority of eligible voters chose to stay home.
Coderre took to the stage just before midnight, hoisting the city flag before speaking. He defended the battered reputation of Canada's second-biggest city.
"We have a magnificent city. It is one of the most beautiful metropolises in the world," Coderre told a cheering crowd.
"This is not a crisis," he said, referring to ongoing ethics scandals. "This is an exceptional opportunity to demonstrate that we belong among the greats."
He has promised to create an inspector-general's position at city hall and be a more forceful advocate for local issues, in the style of other big-personality mayors and in sharp contrast to the lower-key types who recently held the position in Montreal.
Coderre complimented his opponents and pledged to co-operate with opposition parties, who will have more council seats than his. "The message today is clear, for me: On the one hand, people wanted Denis Coderre as mayor. On the other hand they asked us, at city council, to work together."
A persistent question of the campaign, though, was whether Coderre was really the best-suited candidate to clean up Canada's second-biggest city.
The last two mayors have resigned in scandal, the most recent one was arrested on fraud charges, and a disheartening drip of kickback and bid-rigging allegations have corroded locals' trust in city hall. Coderre's supporters insist he's the right guy for the job.
"He has the political experience," said Meme Noel, who came to cheer on Coderre with a friend, Sherly Severe.
"He's never been involved in a scandal in all these years, so I don't see why he would get into trouble as mayor."
Severe added that she's excited to have a mayor that'll be accessible — both in person, and on social media.In total, there were elections in 1,100 cities and towns across the province.
In Quebec City, the city's firebrand mayor, Regis Labeaume, was easily elected to a third term with nearly three-quarters of the popular vote.
Jean Tremblay, who has fought a legal battle for the right to pray at council meetings, was elected mayor of Saguenay for a fourth term.
Quebec's minister of municipal affairs, Sylvain Gaudreault, issued a statement urging more Quebecers to head to the polls this time around.
During the last municipal election, in 2009, voter turnout across the province was around 45 per cent. In Montreal, it was 39 per cent.
But the early turnout results appeared marginally higher than the last election.
Read more Canada News
- B.C. Mountie gets two years probation
- Quotes from Mandela in Canada
- We've lost a great moral leader: Harper
- Harper weighs in on solider suicides
- 'Outright lie,' says Rob Ford
- Blackmail scheme targets Rob Ford
- Sun Media cutting 200 jobs
- Same sex inmates lose bid to be together
- Rob Ford - media dominator
- Storm cuts power to thousands
- Another soldier dies of apparent suicide
- Politicians pay tribute to Paul Desmarais