Is Denis Coderre fit to run for Mayor of Montréal?

Denis Coderre and installed Haitian PM Gerard Latortue

If Will Prosper’s past transgression make him unfit to run to be Mayor of Montréal North, then what about Denis Coderre’s role in further impoverishing Haiti?

On Thursday it was reported that Prosper was fired from the RCMP in 2001 for improperly accessing and possibly leaking information regarding a childhood friend investigated for homicide. Prosper admits to improperly accessing a police database but denies leaking any information.

In response to the revelation, Montréal Mayoral candidate Coderre called on Project Montréal to remove the prominent Haitian Canadian activist and filmmaker as their candidate. But the former Montréal mayor shouldn’t be giving Prosper or anyone else lessons in ethics. Coderre’s role in overthrowing Haiti’s elected government in 2004 was more morally bankrupt and had many more dire consequences than anything Prosper was ever accused of.

As minister responsible for La Francophonie in the months before and after the US, France and Canada sent troops to Haiti Coderre justified the ouster of the president and thousands of other elected Haitian officials. As Prime Minister Paul Martin’s “special advisor on Haiti” after the 2004 coup Coderre repeatedly met foreign installed Prime Minister Gerard Latortue whose regime was responsible for thousands of deaths. Coderre repeatedly justified violence against pro-democracy activists.

While largely buried, this troubling history is not secret. In fact, another municipal politician, Sue Montgomery, penned a Montréal Gazette column during the 2006 federal election campaign calling on voters to “punish” Coderre for his role in Haiti.

While Prosper lost his job and apologized for his transgression, Coderre has never taken any responsibility for his role in undermining Haitian democracy. In fact, he’s continued to support violent, corrupt, far-right forces in that country.

During his term as mayor in 2014 Coderre visited President Michel Martelly, a former member of the dreaded Ton Ton Macoutes and supporter of the 2004 and 1991 coups against elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. According to La Presse, Martelly immediately said “my friend” when he saw Coderre, who he’d met several times. During the 2014 meeting, Coderre invited the corrupt Martelly to make an official visit to Montreal.

In 2019 new Montréal mayor Valérie Plante listened to progressive members of the Haitian community and asked Ottawa to refuse entry into Canada of the openly misogynistic and violent Martelly. His planned concert was ultimately canceled.

In contrast to Coderre, Prosper has been critical of Canada’s support for the violent and corrupt PHTK, which includes a prominent senator from that party recently paying nearly $5 million for Montréal area property. Prosper signed two public letters over the past few years critical of Canada’s role in propping up Martelly’s chosen successor Jovenel Moïse who was recently assassinated in what was likely a factional struggle within the PHTK.

A president murdered in his home in the middle of the night with nary any response from his security is a troubling descent for a country long mired in difficulty. This disintegration of Haitian political life is partly the result of US and Canadian support over the past decade for a highly regressive PHTK party and their earlier role in undermining the country’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, with the 2004 coup. Coderre played a part in this drama, which led to searing images in recent days of earthquake victims completely abandoned by their government.

Voters in Montréal North should be left to determine Will Prosper’s fate in the upcoming election. For his part, Denis Coderre should apologize for his role in further immiserating some of the world’s most impoverished people.

 

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