Denis Coderre bids farewell to City Hall
Published Wednesday, November 8, 2017 7:28AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 8, 2017 7:20PM EST
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said goodbye to colleagues and to City Hall on Wednesday morning, three days after his defeat at the ballot box.
"I love this city, profoundly, and throughout my life I've devoted myself to it," said Coderre.
With a sombre atmosphere, Coderre listed his successes and achievements over the past four years, including altering Montreal's flag to recognize indigenous people, helping homeless people, and convincing the provincial government to give the city new powers.
"What I'm most proud of is that people are together. We're not anglophones, not francophones, we're Montrealers," said Coderre. "My task was to bring people together and that's what I'm most proud of."
"In the modern era we don't identify ourselves in terms of ethnicity or by nation. We identify ourselves in terms of our city," said Coderre.
He said that four years ago Montreal was known for corruption, but things have changed.
"We brought back stability, we brought back integrity. We created the Inspector General," to ensure contracts are not subject to corruption and kickbacks, said Coderre.
"We did in four years what others would have taken 15," said Coderre, pointing out that many things will be completed in the next two or three years because of what he started.
Following his loss to Mayor-elect Valerie Plante, Coderre said he would be leaving municipal politics and would not sit as a city councillor.
Coderre was elected to his first and only term as mayor in 2013 and spent four years convincing councillors to join his party, eventually building a majority at city hall.
That majority was swept away on Sunday when voters gave Projet Montreal a majority of councillors and elected Plante as mayor, making Coderre the first Montreal mayor since the 1950s to not win a second consecutive term of office.
Coderre used, Wednesday's news conference to list his many achievements and recognize the problems voters had with his administration.
"Infrastructure, I know it's been tough, but it had to be done after more than 30 years of utter neglect," said Coderre.
"Montreal is the catalyst for the region, and we need it to work well."
He added that Plante, "I'll call her Valerie, because I know her," can count on his full support for her acts "in what she is going to do for this magnificent metropolis."
Obviously sad about his loss and with tears in his eyes, Coderre was not bitter.
"I don't have any regrets," said Coderre. "The people are always right."
"To be there as an actor of change, to make a difference in people's lives, thumbs up," said Coderre.
Coderre was applauded at his final executive committee meeting as his colleagues praised him.
“He was really all over the planter, not just in Montreal. He put Montreal on the map, said executive committee member Aref Salem.
“We saw Montreal coming back. We saw great things happening in Montreal,” added executive committee member Mary Deros.
More praise came from Quebec City.
“He served Canada, Quebec and Montreal of course, for many years so I think we should all be thankful,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Martin Coiteux.
“He's a man who has contributed a lot to the current prosperity of Montreal and we have to recognize what he did for Montreal. It's very important,” added Premier Philippe Couillard.
As for what is next, Coderre said he is going to wait a couple of weeks and spend time with his family while he works it out.
"I'm going to go to the movies. I enjoy that and I've missed it," said Coderre.
The former federal sports minister added that he does hope Montreal continues to work toward getting a baseball team, and said any mayor who does so will need to be a promoter -- while pointing out that professional sports can inspire youth.
"It's about motivation, it's a matter of passion, it's good for our kids, it's another development tool," said Coderre.
"Culture, sports, are tremendous tools to build citizenship and make a sense of community."
Coderre remains mayor until 4 p.m. on Nov. 16, when Plante will be inaugurated.