Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Montreal's Past and Future Decline

In today's newpaper, there is a story about a possible opponent to Mayor Gerald Tremblay: Louise Harel, the woman who pushed for the merger of the various jurisdictions on the island of Montreal and activist within the Parti Quebecois. Oh joy!?

First, a bit of background. Montreal used to consist of many different municipalities, but then all of them were forced to become a single entity--the merger. Most of the suburbs on the west part of the island, including where I reside, opposed this, seeing it in part as a cash grab since the West part had more savings and higher property value tax bases. Since then, the merger has produced much stronger unions (as it unified the police unions, firefighter unions, blue collar unions), much controversy over spending and taxation, and none of the efficiences that were supposed to happen. The Montreal government, like the Quebec one, seems to have way too many politicians.

Tremblay, in my humble opinion, has been a freaking disaster (a technical term). He has sought grand projects when the city's metro system needs basic maintenance. For instance, he wants a tram to run up and down a few streets, when we need more buses and metro cars. He then complains when people oppose the grand projects. Perhaps the people have been burned by the big dreams of the past, such as the Olympics which created mountains of debt and a stadium that rains concrete down upon the empty seats (empty even when the Expos were playing there). The suburban trains ran very poorly this winter because it was cold. Hmmm, first time it was cold in the winter? I don't think so.

I can go on (as the frisbee players in my car did, without my spurring them at all). So, competition might force some accountability, right? Well, for reasons I have yet to fathom (any help from my readers?), the opposition seems to want Louise Harel to be the opponent.

I find this newest move in Montreal politics to be incredibly depressing since
  • many of the problems in Montreal have been due to the PQ's hostility to the city (both the PQ and the ADQ have run against Montreal in past provincial elections, taking advantage of the rest of the province's resentment towards the big city and as the city has fewer assembly seats than it should);
  • sovereignty as a campaign has done a fair amount of damage to Montreal;
  • the merger has done little to improve things.
If these are the options for the future of Montreal, then the outlook is grim. Montreal is a great city in terms of its people, its culture, its ultimate frisbee community, its universities, and all the rest, but its politics seem destined to undermine it all.

1 comment:

Francois Caron said...

Wouldn't it be great if the good-doing city-level politicians of the Neo-Montrealer take place and try to enhance it instead of ignore it by sitting right beside in the surrounding suburds?

That's the principal weakness of big cities like Montreal; a general don't care of the ones who could make it better. As a well known fact, the private sector take them all. Or is that the States that home them offering incomparable wage and green golf all-year-long?