A narrow, five-percentage-point margin for Denis Coderre, the mayor-elect of Montreal, showed good judgment on the part of the voters in the election on Sunday. Mr. Coderre may be an old-fashioned politico, but his opponents were a neophyte (Mélanie Joly), a technocrat who could not connect with the public (Marcel Côté) and an anti-automobile activist with extravagant spending proposals (Richard Bergeron).
With his long experience of politics, Mr. Coderre at least has an opportunity to make the government of Montreal work honestly. His predecessor, Gérald Tremblay, was personally honest but had a deplorable habit of looking the other way, to avoid the sight of corruption. The hearings of the Charbonneau commission on construction contracting in Montreal have at least eliminated that option. Some of Mr. Coderre’s allies on the incoming city council were members of the discredited, formerly governing Union Montréal party, but he himself has spent most of his political career in the comparative purity of Ottawa, as a Liberal MP. He is realistic enough to know that if he allows the culture of collusion to return, the city government will lose any and all respect in Quebec City or Ottawa. Mr. Coderre insists he has done extensive screening of the councillors that support him – including what he mysteriously called, speaking to La Presse, le filtre Coderre.
He is a federalist, though with some Quebec nationalist leanings. Of all the four candidates, he took the strongest position against the Parti Québécois’s proposed Charter of Values, and he can be counted on to support an opting-out of all Montreal public-sector institutions, if indeed the charter is enacted by the National Assembly. His three principal opponents opposed the charter, too.
Mr. Coderre’s party is simply called l’Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal. He undoubtedly wants to make a personal impact, though “Le parti, c’est moi” is not the ideal political organizing principle. Let us hope that his ambitions will at least result in better governance for Montreal.