Smooth operator: The Denis Coderre method to staying in power
It is Saturday morning in Coderre country, a slice of the island better known as Montreal North.
In a community centre on Rolland Boulevard, just south of the Rivière des Prairies, the mayor tosses aside a mic stand before addressing a small crowd.
“We’re all on a first name basis here,” he says with a wink.
It’s not the throwaway line it appears to be. He’s known many of the people in the room for years. They’ve been attending events with him since 1997, when he was first elected as the Liberal MP for Bourassa.
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Coderre has built a loyal base of voters in this part of the city. They re-elected him to the House of Commons four consecutive times, often by huge margins. And they stayed loyal when he jumped to municipal politics.
The rest of the city’s voters equivocated in 2013 about whether they wanted to see Coderre behind the mayor’s desk at Montreal City Hall. Not Montreal North, nor the three other boroughs that roughly overlap his old federal riding.
The 26,000 votes he picked up in Montreal-North, Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles and Saint-Léonard were the votes that made the difference in a close election.