Coderre not running for Liberal leader, mum on mayor's race

Denis Coderre says he's decided against a bid for the leadership of the federal Liberals. But the Quebec MP is not ready to answer all questions about his political future, including a possible run for mayor in Montreal.

Veteran Quebec MP staying on until at least April, won't confirm mayoral bid in Montreal

Coderre's leadership call

11 years ago
Duration 3:44
MP Denis Coderre discusses his decision not to run for the Liberal leadership.

After weeks of speculation, Denis Coderre says he has decided against running for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party.

"I informed my caucus colleagues this morning that I do not intend to run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada," Coderre told reporters on Parliament Hill.

Standing with interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, Coderre said he would continue as the MP for Bourassa and in his roles as the party's transport critic and head of its Quebec caucus until after the party's leadership convention next April.

"I have devoted more than 30 years of my life in the Liberal Party of Canada. A few more months is not too much to ask for my party that has given me so much."

But the veteran Quebec Liberal MP is not ready to answer all questions about his future political ambitions.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae joined Denis Coderre as he announced he would not run for the federal Liberal leadership. Coderre will continue to sit as the MP for Bourassa until at least next April, despite his interest in running for the Montreal mayor's job. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Coderre had earlier suggested he'd be making an announcement at a Nov. 9 event to celebrate his fifteenth anniversary as an MP, but said Wednesday it was now clear he wouldn't run for the party leadership. 

However, he played coy when reporters pressed him to confirm his interest in the Montreal mayor's seat. He said that although he was under pressure to run for mayor, he "was not there yet."

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay is currently facing illegal campaign financing allegations. Testimony at the Charbonneau commission into corruption in Quebec's construction industry has weakened the incumbent mayor's reputation, opening the door for new faces for the fall 2013 mayoralty race.

Tremblay has committed to finishing his four-year mandate, but has refused to comment on whether he will run again.

Coderre conceded he was at a "crossroads" in his decision making, but added for now he would let the commission do its work as he continues his own work as MP for Bourassa.

"Stay tuned," Coderre teased.

Polls provide momentum for Trudeau

Coderre had long had less-than-secret ambitions to lead the federal Liberals. But Justin Trudeau's early front-runner status, in combination with fellow Montreal MP Marc Garneau's exploratory bid, makes that race an already-crowded field for yet another Quebec contender.

Reporters asked Rae and Coderre to comment on a recent poll that suggested Liberals could win a majority government  under Trudeau's potential leadership.

"I think that any poll which shows an increase in support for the Liberal Party of Canada is a good thing," Rae said. "There’s wind in the sails of the Liberal Party and that’s all good news."

"It has nothing to do with others," Coderre said. "I do my own comments and my own decision."

Coderre was first elected in 1997 and has been re-elected five consecutive times in the Montreal riding of Bourassa. He served in Jean Chrétien's cabinet in several portfolios, including amateur sport and immigration. He was not in Paul Martin's cabinet.

Coderre, who calls politics his "sport," has formidable political organizing skills that would be missed by the federal Liberals should he step down as MP to focus on municipal politics.

His colourful, quoteable style in both English and French has made him a media favorite.

But his political career has not been without controversy – including a personal relationship with Claude Boulay, the founder of Groupe Everest, one of the firms implicated in the sponsorship scandal. 

He openly feuded with former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff over the selection of Quebec candidates and resigned as his Quebec lieutenant in 2009.

In recent months, he has been an active commentator in the Quebec media and on social media on issues beyond federal politics, perhaps paving the way for a career change.