Denis Coderre, the former mayor of Montreal and federal immigration minister, has arisen as a front-runner to lead the Quebec Liberal Party, according to a new poll.
The longtime politician who was ousted as mayor in 2017 has not thrown his hat into the ring. Coderre has also not announced his intention to seek the top job for the provincial party.
The Leger Marketing poll commissioned by the Journal de Montréal shows that Coderre has 19 per cent of support to be the next leader. He is the clear favourite among potential candidates.
“Everybody is surprised that he’s not yet back into politics,” said Liberal MNA and former health minister Gaétan Barrette, who passed on running for leader. “So everybody is wondering where he’s going to land.”
The two contenders seeking the party’s leadership fell behind Coderre, including Dominique Anglade. The Liberal MNA for Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne only garnered 12 per cent of backing from sympathizers who responded to the poll.
Drummondville Mayor Alexandre Cusson has eight per cent of support. He threw his hat into the ring last week after he resigned as head of the province’s municipalities union and became a card-carrying Liberal.
Over the past two weeks, Cusson has been seeking support among Liberal caucus members and activists in a bid for the position. He plans to resign as mayor of Drummondville in January.
The Liberals are searching for a new leader to succeed former premier Philippe Couillard, who stepped down in October 2018 after a bitter defeat in the provincial election.
Anglade, who announced in June she would run for leader, is the first woman in the party’s 150-year history to put her name down for the job. She has the support of at least 11 Liberal MNAs, including Kathleen Weil and Carlos Leitão.
However, Leitão described Coderre as a “well-known and experienced politician.”
“If he wants to jump in, all I can say is welcome,” said Leitão. “The more, the merrier.”
Quebec Premier François Legault said it was up to the Liberals to decide who will be their next leader in May 2020 when asked about the poll.
Global News reached out to Coderre about the poll but has not received a response.
The Leger Marketing poll commissioned by the Journal de Montréal was conducted from Nov. 22 to 25 online among 1,000 Quebecers over the age of 18.
— With files from the Canadian Press