In case you haven’t heard: Liberals retake Montreal’s leadership under a scandal of corruption

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With former Liberal MP Denis Coderre elected as Montreal’s new mayor, the Liberal party returns to power despite the Charbonneau Commission scandal of 2012 and being faced with increased opposition on city council.

The Nov. 3 election had a voter turnout of 43.24 per cent. Coderre’s win was predicted by many.

“People’s weak knowledge about local politics favours a bias toward popular and public figures,” said Jonathan Durand Folco, a PhD student in philosophy at Université Laval.

“This is particularly the case in the northern region of Montreal, where [Coderre] gathered many candidates of Union Montreal in his team.”

32.13 per cent of Montrealers opted for Mr. Coderre. Vrai Changement pour Montreal’s Mélanie Joly came in second with 26.46 per cent of the vote followed by Richard Bergeron of Projet Montreal and finally Coalition Montreal’s leader, Marcel Côté.

“I would not be surprised to see another scandal revealed by the Charbonneau Commission, like St-Léonard councillor Robert Zambito, who resigned over the UPAC investigation one week ago,” Folco added.

In their book Unionists or Thugs? leaders of the FTQ-Construction, Jocelyn Dupuis and Richard Goyette, stated Coderre had facilitated a secret meeting between Eddy Brandonne, treasurer of FTQ-construction, and Dupuis back in 2000, when Coderre was Secretary of State.

In 2012, Brandonne, a long-time Liberal party supporter, was found to have dealings with the Mafia, and admitted to knowing some members. When the press asked Coderre about his relationship with Brandonne, he refuted the allegation of bias.

This September, Coderre told Le Devoir in a press release,

“It must be remembered that at the time the various unions demanded major changes to the system of employment insurance. The negotiations have been very intense with all the unions, including the FTQ […] I can confirm that there has never been an agreement. […] Richard Goyette admits that the bill filed contained no requests for changes of the FTQ. It is unfortunate that Mr. Dupuis and Mr. Goyette, to sell their book, blame everyone for everything and take no responsibility for their actions.”

Changes to the law on employment insurance agreed in 2000 between the Liberal Party of Canada—Coderre included—and the FTQ-Construction were not billed, which generated discontent and distrust among FTQ members, as well as a sense of being manipulated by the party.

Canadian urban planner, Jane Jacobs, attributes the prevailing corruption from the Liberal Party of Quebec and Canada to the failure of the federation to counteract Quebec’s independence movement as she wrote in her book La question du separatism.

Jacobs told former journalist for Le Devoir and 2007 electoral candidate of the Parti Quebecois, Robin Philpot,  that English and British Canada uses legal and illegal bribery to keep Quebec from separating.

The city council comprises 65 members, including 46 city councilors, 18 borough mayors, and the mayor. Équipe Denis Coderre has now 27 seats in the council.

As Projet Montreal came out with the majority of seats in opposition, MP political attaché Nìall Marichiweu says the results show that “Community based politics is the future of municipal politics in Montreal,” he said.

“I think that we’re at the brink of major shifts in the Canadian/Quebec political landscape […] this shows that Progressive Politics will come from the bottom-up as they should” said Marichiweu.

Folco, on the other hand, does not completely agree. He believes although the future of progressive politics will start locally, it would still need to be planned to avoid past mistakes.

“The challenge is to articulate urban struggles, the students movement, neighbourhood associations and other progressive actors like Quebec solidaire to build a new alternative in Montreal and other cities in Quebec,” said Folco.


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