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Brownstein: Ex-mayor Coderre touches on life, love and politics – Montreal Gazette

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It sure sounds like he is itching for a political comeback, and much more on the municipal than the provincial front — and not at all federally.

Denis Coderre does have an announcement to make.

Must have something to do with Coderre making a run for the leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party. Or taking a stab at becoming Montreal mayor again. Or even, as some would-be pundits at a downtown bar were speculating, that Coderre could be enticed to seek the leadership of the federal Conservatives.

Right?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Coderre simply wishes to announce … he’s in love.

After splitting up with longtime spouse Chantale Renaud morethan a year ago, Coderre reveals he’s head over heels for one Rebecca Moreau, who is involved with the popular downtown Asian-fusion resto Jatoba as well as events marketing.

“She’s an amazing person — smart, eloquent and a great partner,” Coderre, 56, says. “I’m very happy.”

Regardless of his love life, rumours continue to swirl wildly about Coderre’s return to politics.

As for the idle talk of him following Andrew Scheer as head of the Conservatives, Coderre breaks into gales of laughter on the phone before uttering: “I’m not that nuts.” Which would certainly seem to suggest that scenario is not on the horizon now, nor will it ever be.


Then Montreal mayor Denis Coderre with former Quebec premier Jean Charest in 2017.

John Mahoney /

Montreal Gazette

“I don’t know where stuff like this even comes from, certainly not from me … that’s just so wild,” Coderre says between bouts of laughter. “People obviously have too much time on their hands. Is their point that if Jean Charest can come back, so can I?”

More laughter.

Despite the fact he has never publicly discussed any desire to jump into the race for the head of the Quebec Liberals, a November Léger Marketing survey prepared for the Journal de Montréal had Coderre leading the race for the job. In the poll, he had 19-per-cent support among Liberals surveyed, seven per cent more than Liberal MNA Dominique Anglade and 11 per cent more than Drummondville Mayor Alexandre Cusson, two declared candidates for the position.

There is less laughter from Coderre regarding this scenario.

“I’m not there,” he says. But he does note that since that poll was released he had been getting lots of calls from those who wished he would enter the leadership race, which will be decided in May.


Former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre thanked the many workers on hand for the inauguration of the new Samuel-De Champlain Bridge in Montreal on Friday June 28, 2019.

Dave Sidaway /

jpg

“All is going well for me now. I have a major mandate as ambassador of the Jewish General Hospital Foundation. And I have a new girlfriend. And that maybe explains why I have lost all that weight,” Coderre says, in quite the segue.

A year ago, Coderre was two-thirds of the man he once was. Now he’s veering closer to half.

At his heaviest, Coderre tipped the scales at 305 pounds. He’s nearer 170 now. He credits cycling and boxing for his weight loss and newfound fitness, not to mention his eschewing of junk food. Those who run into Coderre these days barely recognize him. Once the subject of many a cruel weight joke, Coderre, now donning particularly natty attire, finds it amusing that some suggest he could pass for a GQ model.

“I’m past my midlife crisis and I feel great. It’s a new me. I feel very grounded. I really love what I’m doing.”

So, no chance of Coderre taking another shot at becoming mayor?


Former mayor Denis Coderre sparring with Ali Nestor.

Allen McInnis /

Montreal Gazette

“I didn’t say that,” he is quick to respond and without any trace of a chuckle.

“For now, it’s no. But a lot of people are talking to me about this, and there’s a lot of pressure from people who would like me to come back. I have time. Next election is nearly two years away.”

It’s been a little more than two years since he lost the mayoralty to Valérie Plante. Many believe that if not for the ill-fated Formula E races, among other financial excesses incurred during the city’s 375th birthday bash, Coderre would probably have been re-elected mayor.

Coderre makes no excuses: “There were many reasons that we lost. But I don’t have regrets. We were innovators and we established benchmarks in a lot of areas, including electric vehicles.

“I guess I was inspired in part by the people side of Camillien Houde and some of the visionary side of Jean Drapeau, which explains a lot of things. The bottom line is I really love the city and there are many ways to make it flourish.

“Before 2013, Montreal was being bad-mouthed a lot because of corruption and other things. We were not even a player. During our four years, we had a wonderful team and made things happen, internationally and locally. People wanted a piece of the city again. We were on the map.”

It sure sounds like Coderre is itching for a political comeback, and much more on the municipal than the provincial front — and not at all federally.

“I’m a resilient person. I’ve learned from all my friends that failure can also be an opportunity. I’m writing a book now on the future of cities. I’m still in contact with mayors from around the world.”

Coderre, a former federal cabinet minister who represented the constituents of Bourassa from 1997 to 2013, then reiterates one of his favourite rejoinders: “When I was 4 years old, I was elected president of my pre-kindergarten class. Politics has been part of my DNA all my life in many, many ways.

“It’s still a bit early to decide what I’ll do. But I just wrote something on my Facebook page that 2020 will be a year of decisions for me. That’s for sure.”

bbrownstein@postmedia.com

twitter.com/billbrownstein

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La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre retires from politics – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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Article content continued

I knew what I was getting into, minus COVID-19. I’ve had some personal impacts when it comes to tragedies. Strong support from council and the community’s belief in my leadership helped us get through those moments. Without those supports, and of course the support of my family, it’s very challenging.

When I proceeded to become the mayor of La Loche, I thought I’d be able to step up to the plate and do what I needed to do. I think I was successful considering all the challenges that came my way during that time. Having good staff is (also) key to any successful leadership.

Healing, as individuals and as a community, was a common theme during your term. How is La Loche doing in that process?

We’re still struggling with a lot. There’s a lot of mental health capacity we need to work with and individuals and families that were directly impacted by that incident, and the community as a whole.

But with COVID-19 coming into the community, isolated people weren’t allowed to visit. (It was a challenge) putting on those measures and restrictions in the community, especially when we hit the pandemic and the numbers started to soar.

All those have an impact on an individual’s psyche. Getting those measures put in place, and getting some of these mental health positions filled to support individuals is going to be paramount in the years to come.

What went into La Loche’s COVID-19 response and how it affected residents there?

A lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of time. I was on the phone from 8 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. each day. … Everything has to be clear to point where we can relay those messages to the community.

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Politics Podcast: Why Biden’s Lead Is Different – FiveThirtyEight

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According to our forecast, Democrats have a 72 percent chance of winning a trifecta — that is, controlling the presidency, the House and the Senate. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses what policies the party would prioritize in such a scenario and what divisions might emerge. They also compare Joe Biden’s position now with Hillary Clinton’s in 2016 and explain what’s similar (and what’s different) about their circumstances.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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Column: PART TWO — Politics: a meditation – Rossland Telegraph

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The West, the Rest, the Best?

Other cultural paths have their democratic elements no doubt, but it is the West that has come to lay the foundation of a global economy, and of a global order in the UN and World Court. This world is a community where the lingering effects of the great age of Euro-American imperial, colonial, capitalist domination are still potent.

One must also take serious note of the push-back from non-Western traditions which defy any claim that the West has political and socio-economic models for all nations, that the West somehow has universally-valid principles of government. Xi Jinpeng of China, the Saudi king, the Iranian supreme ayatollah, and the military junta ruling Myanmar, among others, all reject our democratic norms. For these potentates, our way isn’t a norm for humanity; it’s simply our way.

This very condensed version of the history of our democracy is only meant to bring us back to my hypothesis about politicians and the demos : why are politics in the democratic states of the world so uninspired, ineffective, and – in my opinion – in danger of losing the allegiance of the governed and the respect government needs?

The Character Issue

If one were to ask why politics is not respected by citizens in nations like Canada, it is likely one would hear a great deal about the character, or lack thereof, of present politicians. Politicians are held in low regard. Their willingness to be genuine is rated low, their honesty suspected, their consistency for matching word to action not believed: in short, citizens and voters assert that if the character and quality of politicians were elevated, or deepened, or reinvigorated, then we might rethink our low opinion of politics. But we will not invest our passions or energies in politics until we see an end of base traits like self-interest, cynicism, greed, and egotistical ambitions. It is not our fault politicians are so dismal… is it? What is the basic responsibility of the electorate for the low quality of the people who hold office?

One begins by asking if voters in democracies are nurtured, acculturated, educated and “engineered” for their civic duties.

Keeping informed about politics would seem to be more effortless than ever in this age of 24/7 news cycles and infinite access to media reporting on government activity. Yet there is scant evidence that the opportunity for better-informed and more-engaged citizenship has produced high rates of participation by constituents who truly understand, and are educated about, issues touching on their democratic government. Voter participation, in my opinion, ought never be less than 80%, yet such a high rate is not the norm.  Only in crucial referendums does the voter turnout astound one by its size: witness the participation in Quebec’s poll on sovereignty in 1995; the Scots turned out in fine numbers for their ballot for parliamentary autonomy (“devolution”) also.

I hypothesize an intimate connection between the quality of our elected “public servants” in political office and the quality of their constituents’ characters and consciousness — or what I might, in the terms of the Tao Te Ching, call the habits of “the people.” The Tao posits that the wise few who want to guide the people – not the lords and princes, but the sages – rule by being virtually invisible. The People never know that a leader makes things happen, but believe good things “happen of themselves, by our own acts.”  The wise, benevolent soul leads without acting. The people should have full bellies and empty minds, and “clever” ones who want to innovate and break tradition and dominate should be rendered powerless – so says this ancient classic of Chinese political principles and mystic spiritual guidance.

I would reverse the idea that the sage inspirits the people to live in harmony with Tao, and postulate that the people are the root influence determining the kind of politicians/ gentlemen who govern over, legislate for, and lead them. Base politicians with weak character, small merit, little ability,  inadequate education, feeble cultural assets, exercising authority over us in a democracy, are ultimately defective because they reflect us. We lack what we want them to model. They are not better than we.

We have yet to be worthy of better democracy, we have yet to create the nurture and culture of a people and a society who truly govern themselves individually and collectively. The true origin of good government surely is within the individual citizen, the person, consciousness, spirit, and will.

Who wants to be a politician?

Fortunately, Canada is not ruled by a pack of incompetent villains, manifestly grabbing power for the sake of their ego or greed. We are not terribly ill-served by the people we choose because, as I see it, Canadians are reasonably intelligent at discerning the worst among those who seek elected office. Good people, not merely ambitious incompetents, want to serve as politicians.

There is one factor in play in Western democracies that has proven so far to have quite positive effects, unforeseen perhaps but most certainly intended by government policies and reforms. I refer to women’s emancipation. One half of humanity for all of recorded history had been unjustifiably disempowered by patriarchal culture. Women were wasted, their talent untapped, stifled by cultural blindness and antipathy to the female, not to say misogyny, for millennia.

Politics in democracies are at last liberating women. Some women who have risen in the West, such as Merkel, Ardern, E. May, Bruntland, M. Robinson, or R. B. Ginsberg, are evidence that so far we are fortunate to be at last accessing the political genius of the female. I would be dishonest if I said I believe the quality of female politicians will sustain such high levels as we tap more and more women to serve in politics. I expect there are as many mediocre female politicians as male, but to this point, I see fewer…

I have been pleasantly surprised by the high quality of people like Jagmeet Singh, Chrystia Freeland, and Patty Hajdu, in the Canadian pandemic, for their clear compassion and the intelligence they appear to be applying to the health issue and its ensuing economic and social crises. I groan when a Horgan, a Higgs, or a Moe abuse their polling popularity during the unusual situation to call snap provincial elections, but I do not succumb to any broader cynicism.

Trudeau is a better character to have as our P.M. now than Harper would have been, I feel quite sure. Spending generously would not have been Harper’s instinct; from all I see, the crisis in our personal finances necessitates Trudeau’s policies. Another poor example of a leader, again in my opinion, is Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta; he is not what Albertans need, but he likely does reflect their public mind.

Cognitive Decline?

It’s coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.  —
Leonard Cohen, Democracy is Coming

Yes, always there will be some people who deceive us, who get elected with motives more selfish than altruistic; we must expect that in our present social order in a market capitalist economy and individualist ethical landscape. But we have institutions that can detect and correct abuses if we will do the work to operate them, in legal or political or educational paths of reform. We the people can make a difference; we have some basic merits for the work, and we can find the will to do it.

Our neighbour to the south is the negative example of a people sadly degenerated from the standards of political and civic behaviours they once knew and that democracy demands. Canadian political culture, as with western and northern European culture, is still a firm enough foundation to keep us from the muck and mire Americans now suffer. The Atlantic magazine recently published a long piece about the USA, calling Americans’ present desperate politics a sign of“national cognitive decline.”

I understand the significance of that phrase. The US has deteriorated culturally so that the public mind is incapable of higher standards of political conduct. It isn’t irreversible, but it is definitely not to be cured by one election and one change of president. The Americans are getting the president they deserved.

The “leader of the free world,” as CBC calls the US president, has “his finger on the button” of nuclear war, and  the day I wrote this I learned he had contracted Covid 19. Democracy is at a very strange crossroads indeed. So much can be altered in a few months. I am reminded by this that a leader and the times in which the leader holds power are also of paramount importance. A gifted person born to the wrong circumstances will not have the opportunity to display their political gifts, and a leader with cognitive disabilities can be the reason politics falls into decline. But, as I have said before in this column, I consider the president a symptom of America’s diseased body politic, not the cause. He is an effect; the culture is the origin.

But let me not leave readers with the conclusion that I am anti-American in my prejudices. I take refuge in Leonard Cohen’s lyric

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen
.

End of  Part Two

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