Denis Coderre video sparks criticism
Outremont community leader says Hasidic Jews in riding want Coderre as mayor
A cellphone video shot last week of mayoral candidate Denis Coderre making an election pitch to members of Outremont’s Hasidic community is generating reaction from rival candidates.
The video shows Coderre trying to convince members of Montreal's Hasidic Jewish community at a meeting to vote for him.
“Aren’t you fed up with all the one-way streets they’re changing all the time?” he asks the audience.
“If you want my friendship, if you want my support, don’t divide the vote,” he continues in the video.
“I don’t need division. I’m fighting right now against the charter because they’re dividing the people, and it’s diversion.”
At one point Coderre turns his attention to the person filming his remarks and says, "You’re not recording, eh?”
Just before 9 a.m. Friday, Coderre told a journalist from a French-language network that the video was nothing to be embarrassed about.
He said he was simply speaking to a cultural community to try to drum up support for his candidates.
Alex Werzberger, the president of the Coalition of Outremont Hasidic Organizations, said he was at the meeting.
He said he didn't see anything wrong with Coderre's talk.
“It was simply a plea for people to vote for his candidates. He came twice to the community — this was the second time around, and he came just to bolster his candidates,” Werzberger said.
When asked by CBC Daybreak Montreal's host Mike Finnerty whether the Hasidic community in Outremont intended to vote en bloc for any particular candidate, Werzberger said, "We definitely want Denis Coderre to become mayor.”
Mindy Pollak, a Hasidic woman running for borough council for Projet Montreal in Outremont, may or may not have her community's support.
Werzberger said they were "still trying to decide" whether to vote for Pollak.
Étienne Coutu, who’s running for mayor of Outremont with Projet Montreal, said the video shows an attempt to blackmail the community for votes.
“Mr. Coderre should notice that we’re not in the Duplessis era anymore, in the time that people who voted the right way could have their road paved,” he said.