MONTREAL -- Former Montreal mayor, federal Liberal cabinet minister and runner-up in the 2021 mayoral race Denis Coderre announced he is quitting political life after losing to Valerie Plante in the municipal election.

Coderre had kept a low profile since the Nov. 7 election, but was seen heading into a closed-door meeting Friday with his team at Casa d'Italia, a community centre on Jean-Talon St.

Coming out of the meeting after the lunch hour, Coderre said he is stepping down from leader of the opposition, which means the job of Ensemble Montreal leader will be vacant. The party said details of the new leader will be announced "in the coming weeks."

"I gave 40 years of my life. I took time for me to reflect. It was pretty hard," he said Friday of his decision to quit as he was surrounded by his team. 

Appearing emotional at times during the press conference, he said he explained that the extremely low voter turnout in Sunday's election as one of the reasons why he is leaving and that he is done with politics altogether. He said he will "do something else" in his future life, but did not elaborate. 

"After 40 years of public life, 12 election campaigns, 16 years in Ottawa, [then] mayor. We contributed to the rebirth of Montreal after all this corrupt situation at the time," he said. 

"What I'm really proud of is this team."

Voter turnout was 38.32 per cent this year for Montreal's municipal election.

Coderre came in second during this year's municipal mayoral election, receiving 37.97 per cent (158,751) of the vote.

Incumbent mayor Valérie Plante had 52.14 per cent (217,986) of the vote, acccording to Élections Montréal.

She has since commented on Coderre's announcement and wished him "success in his future projects."

"Mr. Coderre has Montreal's interests at heart," she said. "Our administration will offer its full collaboration to the person who will be designated by Ensemble Montréal to occupy the important position of leader of the official opposition."  

'YOU JUST HAVE TO LOOK AT THE RESULT AND LIVE WITH IT'

He said "we're all surprised, we're deceived" by the election results.

"You have to look ahead and you just have to look at the result and live with it," he said.

He said that the day after the election he had "such a headache I couldn't talk to anybody," but eventually he wrote to Mayor Plante and she replied. 

"I congratulated her in my speech on Sunday, too, with Balarama [Holness], too. And, that's it -- good luck."

The election loss was an emotional one, he admitted Friday, and that now is the "right time" to leave the helm and focus on himself.

"I want to take care of my kids, I want to take care of me, my senior parents who took it hard and I was with them on Monday. I wanted to be here today to tell [my team] that I love them and I have great respect for politics and politicians."

Up until the last week of the campaign, Coderre and Plante were tied in polls until two polls a few days ago showed Plante breaking away with about a six-point lead -- far less than the margin she ended up with.

After his 2017 loss to Plante, he quit as leader of the opposition and entered the private sector as a consultant. "I never truly stopped and something was missing and I filled that gap during the campaign," he said Friday.

His private life came under the microscope in the last week of the election when, after pressure from his main opponent to be more transparent, he released his tax returns and financial records of his consulting work for real-estate giant Cogir and other private companies. 

At his concession speech, Coderre talked about his "love" for Montreal and pleaded with citizens to be more engaged with their city.

"I ask all people... we need to transcend party politics" and get involved in various ways, he said. "It's worth the effort."

He ran on a platform that was focused more on business and public security, telling voters Montreal was no longer safe. 

He also promised changes like removing some new bike lanes around the city and replacing them with parking spots to appease business owners.

On housing, he pledged to "flood the market" with new private units to bring down prices.

In the end, Coderre won more votes in six out of Montreal's 19 boroughs, namely Anjou, Montreal-Nord, Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles, Saint-Laurent, and Saint-Léonard.