Your guide to the new Denis Coderre

To understand Denis Coderre’s return to municipal politics, there are three things you need to know:

First, she believes she lost the 2017 municipal election to Valérie Plante not because Montreal agreed with its vision for the city’s future but because the election was a “referendum on my personality”

And, by his own admission in an interview on Tuesday, he had become overly arrogant and militant by the end of his term.

Second, Coderre believes that Montreal is in a worse position than when he left office, despite steady GDP growth and pre-pandemic employment growth.

He believes that the core of the center has lost its vitality. He worries about the departure of families to the suburbs and mourns the polarized discussions on issues such as bike lanes.

“We are,” he said, “losing the Montreal experience.”

Coderre makes the concession speech after the loss of the 2017 municipal elections. He has spoken openly about his personal difficulties in dealing with the loss. (Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press)

Third, as a confident “radical centralist” he believes that in every pressing social issue facing the city, from policing to social housing, compromise is possible.

If you buy Coderre’s argument about his personality, you will want to know if he has changed.

If you buy his claims that Montreal is worse off without him, you will want to know what he would have done differently.

But this information may be more than interesting, unless you align with it in the sense of compromise.

A young man?

In several recent interviews, Coderre spoke openly about the personal difficulties he faced at the end of his term and how he discovered them.

The most pressing question, as he gets ready to take over the opposition Ensemble Montreal party, is whether he has changed as a politician.

Coderre says the answer is yes. is more willing to listen now.

Shortly before his loss in 2017, he was systematically criticized for his approach on the road.

The most famous example is the fiasco in Formula E, the electric car race that insisted on passing through parts of the center to celebrate Montreal’s 375th birthday.

During the last campaign, he claimed that the race was successful, although the sales numbers will prove to be different later.

“That was wrong,” he said. “I paid for it. And I apologize for the mistake I made.”

The liability he is willing to accept, however, is limited.

An investigation into the incident by the Montreal Inspector General concluded in 2018 that Coderre’s office ignored repeated warnings from the city’s lawyers, who were concerned about the legality of setting up a non-profit organization to host the match.

Coderre denies receiving the warnings or that there were governance problems with the way the match was organized by his administration.

WATCH Denis Coderre on his return to municipal politics

Sudha Krishnan of CBC Montreal talks to the former mayor of Montreal about why he is running again. 6:32

Coderre, the political will

It is an issue he wants to move on. Finally, he just wrote a 300-page book outlining his vision for the future of Montreal.

It is sometimes vague and heavy for Conderre’s well-worn clichés – the successful parade includes the classics “walking and chewing gum at the same time” and “government chooses”.

But on some issues the book offers specific policy proposals that show what its fall campaign platform could be like.

Take, for example, the relationship between urban density and affordable housing for families.

With social housing, as well as cycling trails and some other issues, Plante management has been reluctant to wait for consensus to emerge. (Ivanoh Demers / Radio Canada)

Coderre argues that the province should transfer responsibility for the city’s primary and secondary education infrastructure.

With the ability to decide where to build schools, he says, Montreal could create more family-friendly neighborhoods.

It also proposes delaying property tax increases for people with stable incomes as a way of curbing refinements.

The revitalization of the center will be carried out through tax cuts for businesses and the development of smaller commercial spaces for retailers whose transactions are carried out mainly through the internet.

“All these things together will create a vibrant city center. And not just for the city center, but for every area of ​​the city,” he said.

The big difference

Of the various problems the big city faces in Montreal, there are few that Coderre believes can not be solved by “talking about it” or “working together” or “sitting at the table.”

He is almost the first politician to present dialogue as a way to resolve seemingly unpleasant problems.

But with Coderre, he also implies the ideological belief he seeks to govern, and what may be the big difference with Plante.

Coderre strongly criticizes the way in which the current administration has often built bicycles to the objections of motorists and business owners.

He does not oppose the idea of ​​cycling trails, but says they should be created in collaboration with other stakeholders.

“They have to be accompanied. You can’t force it,” he said.

However, when pushed, he could not come up with a convincing plan on how to build a bike on a major highway without angering traders.

Coderre strongly criticizes the way in which the current administration has often built paths for motorists and business owners to object. (Ivanoh Demers / Radio Canada)

Coderre is also committed to repealing the Montreal Affordable Housing Act, which, when it takes effect next month, will force big developers to either include affordable units in a project or contribute to a municipal housing fund.

By intervening in the real estate market, he writes in his book, he will raise prices and compete with developers.

“If developers do not participate in the discussion, do you think they will be willing to create something?” he said in the interview.

One of the reasons, however, that the city is experiencing a severe shortage of social housing is that the private sector has consistently failed to provide several rental units in low-income Montreal.

With social housing, as well as cycling trails and some other issues, the Plante administration has shown a reluctance to wait for consensus to emerge.

For better or worse, he determined that the delivery of these public goods was urgent enough to justify privileged concerns over others.

This question about how to deliver public goods will be big on the campaign this fall, whether Coderre has changed or not.

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