For Denis Coderre, there was good news and bad news last night. The good news, of course, is that he won the election and will be the 44th Mayor of Montreal. The bad news is that he does NOT have a majority on city council. He has 28 seats versus 22 for Projet Montreal. In other words, he will be facing a powerful Projet Montreal opposition that is dictatorial, doctrinaire and allergic to compromise.
Less than 6 percentage points separated Denis Coderre from his nearest rival, newcomer Melanie Joly. He surpassed her vote total by some 25,000 votes, the overwhelming majority of those votes coming from his home base in Montreal North and RDP. Denis Coderre told me that he is taking some time today to savour his victory, but this man certainly does have his work cut out for him. There are plenty of problems in this town, and despite what I told Andrew Carter the morning after the election, they cannot ALL be fixed by Wednesday.
Montreal is broke and that simply cannot continue. If Denis Coderre succeeds in cutting the waste at city hall and making every bidding process as transparent as possible, he will already have achieved much. I hope and expect that he will hire Marcel Cote as chief economic adviser before the end of month. The two of them should finally be able to ensure that Montreal gets the respect that it deserves as the financial engine of the entire province.
If Coderre makes that happen, if he personally makes sure we no longer are forced to pay a 30 per premium for road repair and if he works hard to make sure that Montreal is leaner, cleaner and cheaper, then we will be way ahead of where we were and this city may yet become an international capital.
Coderre may be slick, but he may be just the guy to stand up to PQ leader Pauline Marois. When I asked him what he will talk about when he goes to Quebec City to see her, he suggested that she should come here to Montreal. She won’t be meeting a grovelling underling. She will be meeting her equal.
Montreal is distinct from the rest of the province and it deserves much more respect than it has been getting for decades.
If Coderre succeeds in convincing the premier of that simple fact, he will have done more than the last five mayors combined.