Photo: Paul Chiasson Archives The Canadian Press Former mayor of Montreal and former federal Liberal minister Denis Coderre in November 2021
January 26, 2024
Denis Coderre did everything except confirm that he was entering the race for the Liberal leadership. After 14 years away from the party, he now has his membership card in hand again and he intends at all costs to prevent the “coronation” of a new leader at the head of this “great party”.
It's like he never left. “You missed me ?” ex-mayor Coderre said as he entered the headquarters building of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) on Friday afternoon, after a press scrum of ten minutes under the snow. Form in hand, he approached the counter to obtain a new membership card “for three years”; hers had expired since 2010.
After turning towards the flock of journalists who had come to speak to him, the verbose politician spoke again. Another exchange lasting around ten minutes followed. “The Liberal Party is a great party,” he said, inviting the disgruntled Liberals to return to the fold. “This party is 150 years old, it has exceptional values. »
“I understand that you were disappointed at the time, but come back! » he added, speaking directly to the party's former voters.
Mr. Coderre has still not confirmed that he will enter the race for leadership of the PLQ, but he already knows that he wants “a debate of ideas.” “I do not want there to be a coronation, because to conquer without peril, one conquers without glory,” he maintained, showing that he has not lost his love of sayings.
“Central extremist”, according to his own definition, the former elected official mocked the public policies of the Coalition Avenir Québec, which “takes people for suitcases”, and the desire “ past date” of the Parti Québécois to hold a third referendum on the sovereignty of Quebec. He even silently criticized a proposal made by the PLQ revival committee in a report tabled in October: the creation of a Quebec Constitution. “Do people want the Constitution or do they want to eat three times a day?” he wondered aloud.
Asked to clarify his thoughts on this subject, Mr. Coderre simply replied that, “for the moment, what is important is to meet the activists.” He claims to have started reading the recovery plan piloted by liberal MP Madwa-Nika Cadet and former senator and journalist André Pratte.
Mr. Coderre intends to leave for Drummondville on Saturday, and “not just to […] ask where the poutine comes from.” This week, he announced that he would launch a tour of Quebec to meet Liberal members. His neurologist gave him the all-clear, less than a year after a stroke that partly affected his speech, he says: “I just got rehabilitated. »
Couillard, Tanguay, lark…
The name of the former federal Liberal MP and mayor of Montreal was on everyone's lips this week at the PLQ pre-session caucus. While some greeted the news of his interest in chieftaincy with enthusiasm, others could not hold back their bursts of laughter. This is the case of the MP for Saint-Laurent, Marwah Rizqy, who, questioned about his record as mayor, ended up telling journalists: “Listen, his record, I think it is more up to him to defend it . »
After indicating this week that he wanted to hear “a little less laughter” from party deputies, Mr. Coderre stressed on Friday that he was not offended. ” I like everyone. I have no problem,” he said. The former mayor has good relations with the current Liberal caucus, he assures. Launched on this subject, he praised the work of interim leader Marc Tanguay, whom he “knows”, before naming a series of former liberal elected officials: Line Beauchamp, Paule Robitaille and Philippe Couillard.
“I pay tribute to Philippe Couillard,” he added, throwing flowers to the former prime minister for his understanding of “regions and municipalities.” He also intends to make these two issues his priorities if he participates in the leadership race.
The liberal race is still a long way off; it will not be officially launched until spring 2025. For the moment, only one other candidate has expressed interest: the member for Marguerite-Bourgeoys, Frédéric Beauchemin.