“If I become leader, I promise you that I will run in the Quebec region,” the former Montreal mayor said in an interview with Le Soleil on Monday. “We need a connection between the capital and the metropolis.”
Denis Coderre is not targeting a specific constituency, but wants to run “in the greater area” of the Capitale-Nationale.
Since 2018, Quebec voters have shunned the provincial Liberals. But Denis Coderre is not afraid. There is no question of choosing a particular riding style on the island of Montreal, he emphasizes. “It shows you that I believe when I go there.”
In any case, “there is no safe district,” states the experienced politician. “The day a representative – or a mayor – thinks he’s an owner, he’s eating a damn specimen.”
He cites “what Philippe Couillard did in Roberval” as inspiration. In 2014, the Liberal leader was elected in Lac-Saint-Jean after years of representing the urban counties of Jean-Talon, Mont-Royal and Outremont. “He had the courage to do it.”
Mr. Coderre, who has close ties to the metropolis, is committed to giving the regions a special place. “Quebec lives from the regions,” he states. The politician highlighted the “very nice reception” he received in Drummondville on Saturday as he embarked on a tour of the regions.
Powers for cities
Even as he considers running for national office, the man who led Montreal from 2013 to 2017 has little distance from local politics.
Denis Coderre can no longer tolerate local, provincial and federal elected officials throwing the ball at each other in the face of problems. “It can’t always be someone else’s fault.”
According to him, Quebec should give mayors more powers. In return, they should be truly accountable, he believes.
Mr. Coderre talks about his years in Montreal City Hall and the powerful duo he formed with Quebec leader Régis Labeaume. A time when cities really had the ear of the government, he believes.
In 2016, the Liberals passed two laws, strongly requested by mayors, that reaffirmed metropolitan status for Montreal and capital status for Quebec.
“Mr. Legault should speak to Philippe Couillard. On the question of relations between Quebec and the municipalities, it was the Liberals who set the tone.”
Denis Coderre, who has not yet confirmed his candidacy for the leadership of the provincial Liberals, believes the next leader of the PLQ will first have to rebuild his activist base. And says he's ready for it.
“I am proud to be the son of a carpenter […] In the case of the three little pigs, the brick house won,” Mr. Coderre noted, saying he was “ready to work on the foundations.”
However, the politician with many years of experience refuses to call himself a “transitional leader”. And that despite the fact that last week he asked his possible opponents to wait until the party was rebuilt before starting.
“You may be the right person, but maybe not right away,” he said on CKVL. I want to leave you the party in good condition. Call it transition whatever you want.”
The politician will announce his colors after completing the 300 km of the Camino de Santiago. And while many observers doubt it, he swears he could choose not to take the plunge. “Everything is on the table.”
But Denis Coderre agrees: politics is his drug. “And I take responsibility for my medications.”
— In collaboration with Valérie Gaudreau