Oops, he did it again. Denis Coderre announced that he will be quitting politics at a short press conference at his campaign headquarters on Friday afternoon.
"I'm quitting political life and I will not be head of the opposition," said Coderre.
The former and would-be mayor ran his campaign with plenty of promises, a lot of bravado, some flip-flops and a scandal peppered in for good measure.
In the last days of the campaign, Coderre was dogged by accusations about his lack of transparency over his past income. He never seemed to recover after that, progressively (regressively?) losing ground to Valérie Plante's Projet Montréal in polls leading up to Election Day.
In the mayoral vote, Coderre only attained 37.97% of the vote share and his Ensemble Montréal party was swept in many key boroughs by Projet Montréal.
In his 2017 campaign, Coderre also lost by a significant margin to Plante. He quit politics then, as well.
Today, Coderre was less than effusive about his future plans. "I'm going to do other things," he explained.
"Forty years in public life, 12 electoral campaigns, about 16 years in Ottawa... as mayor I contributed to the renaissance of Montreal after past corruption as you'll remember [...] I'm very proud of my team."
Despite being the official opposition at city hall, Ensemble Montréal is now left without a leader. Former party leader Lionel Perez also lost his seat in NDG and there's no clear succession path at the moment.
"Montreal is not a village, it's a large city with vibrant neighbourhoods [...] I love it with all my heart," said Coderre.
"We're looking towards the future and I'm very proud of what I was able to accomplish this past year."
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
At an early morning meeting between re-elected Mayor Valérie Plante and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Montreal City Hall on Friday, housing, public transit, the pandemic and most notably, public security in the city were the main topics of discussion.
Montreal's mayor once again implored the federal government to consider banning handguns across the country.
J\u2019ai eu une excellente rencontre avec @JustinTrudeau!\n\nNous partageons plusieurs priorit\u00e9s, dont la s\u00e9curit\u00e9 publique, l\u2019habitation, le transport collectif et le d\u00e9veloppement de l\u2019Est de Montr\u00e9al. Le gouv. canadien est un partenaire dans l\u2019essor de notre m\u00e9tropole. #polmtlpic.twitter.com/B825A1ugNK
"Canada needs to be a country that distinguishes itself from our neighbours to the south," Plante told journalists after her meeting with the prime minister. "Where gun trafficking and the normalization of guns is unacceptable."
In recent months, there have been several reports of firearm incidents, murders and other violent attacks. Most recently, on November 14, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed near a Villeray high school. The SPVM said that it was the 31st homicide in the city this year.
Public safety and security were hot-button issues during the recent municipal election, as well, with all the candidates presenting plans to target gun violence in the city.
The mayor said Friday that "we should ban handguns and we should be even stronger on assault weapons."
Plante spoke of the need to support this position across Canada, even in places where sentiments about firearms might be different from Quebec's.
"I know that it's not popular everywhere, but here in Quebec, I think we have a consensus that it's the right thing to do," she said.
"Mr. Trudeau showed a lot of openness and he agreed that the federal [government] has to do more."
Newly re-elected Mayor Valérie Plante wants to remove voting barriers so that Montrealers have an easier time voting in municipal elections. But that'll require some cooperation from the city's voting authority, Élections Montréal.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the mayor told MTL Blog that she finds "it difficult that at the federal and provincial levels, it's so much easier to vote. When it comes to the municipal, it's not."
"What I hope will happen is that Élections Montréal will loosen up and make sure that any citizen can go vote."
Statistically speaking, most Montrealers didn't come out to vote in the recent municipal election. There was only a 38.32% participation rate among registered voters.
Mathilde St-Vincent, spokesperson at Élections Montréal tells MTL Blog that "mayor Valérie Plante is referring mostly to the registration to the Electoral list."
"What is important to understand and clarify is that registration on the electoral list is a process regulated by the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities and that Élections Montréal applies the rules, as do all Quebec municipalities."
In Montreal, for instance, registering on the electoral list required individuals to go to an in-person session at an elections office with two pieces of ID to prove their identity and residence. Prospective voters could also mail in a written application to verify the required information.
St-Vincent insists that the organization has a mission "to organize the Montréal municipal election by ensuring that the voting process is facilitated."
In early November, Élections Québec, the provincial voting authority, told MTL Blog that there are three main reasons why people don't vote: "a lack of time, a lack of interest in municipal politics," and "a lack of knowledge about municipal issues, the candidates and their ideas."
"We put so much effort into connecting with the youth or with some communities who don't feel connected, we're able to mobilize them," the mayor said Wednesday.
"But I wonder and I hope that Élections Montréal will do some introspection because it's not fair that it's so hard to vote at the municipal level — it doesn't help democracy — so I hope they do better."
"We are certainly listening to the comments and are open to taking part in the discussion to improve practices within the prescribed legal framework," St-Vincent said.
Newly re-elected Mayor Valérie Plante unveiled Montreal's executive committee at an event at the Marché Bonsecours on Wednesday morning. The mayor proudly introduced a more diverse executive committee full of both new and former committee members.
It's headed by Dominique Ollivier, reportedly the first Black person to serve as a Montreal executive committee president.
"The next four years will determine the future of our metropolis," the mayor declared Wednesday.
"Our committee will work every day for Montrealers. [...] We will continue to work hard with our partners in the provincial and federal governments, as well."
The mayor also highlighted that her new committee is made up predominantly of women.
"I remember that I said, 'We will do better next time.' In 2017, we had a lot of diverse candidates but weren't able to get them elected," the mayor said of the lack of diversity at the beginning of her first mandate.
She said that this time her party put in the "time and effort" to support candidates from diverse backgrounds. She spoke of needing to build trust with the community and with her candidates in order to pull it off.
"Did I get pressure from the outside? Yes, but it's good pressure," she said.
"In Montreal, there has to be a diverse representation and it was the right thing to do."
The Montreal election saw a low 38.3% voter turnout. Out of the 1,111,110 eligible voters in Montreal, only 425,766 went to the polls.
Élections Québec pointed to three main reasons why people don't turn out to vote: "a lack of time, a lack of interest in municipal politics," and "a lack of knowledge about municipal issues, the candidates and their ideas."
While the size of the municipality doesn't necessarily affect voter turnout, people are more likely to vote if "they have a strong sense of belonging to their municipality," the office said.
"The vote increases with the number of years lived in the same municipality and at the same address," meaning that people who have established roots in the city are more likely to go vote.
Homeowners are more likely to vote than renters.
Officials are also contending with a generational divide — a problem that's bigger than just this one election. Élections Québec says "young people today vote less than young people from previous generations."
It's trying to combat this trend with educational programs and awareness campaigns, including Voters in Training, a mock election in which students vote for actual candidates.
Is online voting a possible solution?
Élections Québec said it's "in favour" of using technology and admitted that "internet voting has the potential to improve access to voting, particularly for certain groups of voters."
In 2020, the office presented a study to the National Assembly that listed "thirty-some recommendations aimed at ensuring that internet voting respects the principles underlying a democratic vote."
However, the office warns against "rushing" the introduction of online voting.
The study identified a path toward testing internet voting — but made clear such tests could only come after a lengthy review of possible challenges.
Among the disadvantages to online voting listed on the Élections Québec website are difficulty verifying voters' identities and susceptibility to "hostile acts." It also says that "there would be no written 'paper trail', so verifying or recounting ballots would not be possible."
"The risks must first be managed in order to preserve the integrity of the elections," Élections Québec said in its statement. "An online voting system must meet the highest standards of accessibility, security and reliability, which takes significant time and resources."
Élections Québec also noted that some evidence shows online voting does not necessarily have an effect on voter turnout, especially amongst young people.