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5 Reasons Why Montreal Should Separate From Quebec Now That The CAQ Is In Power

Montreal should become a city-state.
Senior Editor
5 Reasons Why Montreal Should Separate From Quebec Now That The CAQ Is In Power

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is now officially in command of a majority government in the provincial National Assembly.

The party defied even the most optimistic projections to nearly sweep the election yearlier this month.

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TL;DR The CAQ will not represent Monteal's best interests. Here are 5 reasons the city should become its own province now that the centre-right party is in control of the provincial government.

Notably, the party only gained two seats on the island of Montreal. The city and its immediate suburbs voted overwhelmingly for the parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) and Québec Solidaire (QS).

Montreal is politically isolated in the province. Worse, the centre-right CAQ will not represent the best interests of the city and its residents.

The secession of the island of Montreal from the rest of Quebec is a long-shot opportunity to claim control of the city's cultural and economic development from the disdainful CAQ.

Here are five reasons why Montreal should aim for independence now that the CAQ is in power:

The CAQ might gut Montreal's city council

CAQ leader François Legault expressed interest in cutting the number of Montreal city councillors after Ontario premier Doug Ford did the same in Toronto.

The CAQ ran on a platform of fiscal austerity. Except there is little reason to do this given the province's already balanced budget. The party promises to overhaul and make severe cuts to the provincial bureaucracy.

The CAQ majority government will use these efforts as an excuse to reduce municipal representation in Montreal.

Public outcry accompanied Ford's act in Ontario. Montreal residents, of course, are among the most politically astute and vocal in the country. City dwellers will take to the streets should Legault announce a plan similar to Ford's.

Such a move by the CAQ would be a violation of Montreal's political integrity.

The CAQ will neglect Montreal transit woes

Among the Montreal transit proposals of the four major provincial parties, those of the CAQ were perhaps the least ambitious.

The only rail developments proposed by the party are the extension of the STM Blue line (long promised by every party) and the addition of two street-level trolleys between Montreal East and downtown.

Otherwise, the CAQ promises to invest heavily in roads, mostly suburban. Those plans will come with tremendous cost and little economic return. Functioning public infrastructure and transit in Montreal, on the other hand, would be an economic boon for the entire province.

The STM in Montreal needs radical innovation, not stagnation. The city has the public support and political interest to construct the most advanced and extensive public transit system in the world. The CAQ is squandering that opportunity.

The minister for the metropole is Mayor Plante's political enemy

Yesterday, Legault announced the cabinet that will head his majority government. Notably, the ministership responsible for the Montreal region fell to Chantal Rouleau, who represents part of Montreal East in the National Assembly.

Rouleau's background is in municipal politicals. She was a member of Ensemble Montreal, the party in opposition to Projet Montreal, which current Montreal mayor Valérie Plante heads.

The appointment made clear that the opposition between the CAQ and the city of Montreal is not just political, it's personal.

The working relationship between provincial and municipal officials are thus fundamentally fraught.

Montreal does not have adequate, functioning representation in the CAQ government.

Cuts to immigration will hurt Montreal the most

As we have previously reported, the CAQ aims to both cut immigration and more strictly monitor immigrants admitted to the province. Among those plans is a commitment to expel immigrants who do not pass a French language test within three years.

Such policies will only foster anti-immigrant sentiment and deter skilled labourers, which the province desperately needs, from entering the province.

Since the Canadian federal government has final say on matters related to immigration, these plans may not even be possible.

But if those policies were to come into effect, they would directly hurt Montreal economic growth and culture. The city thrives specifically because of its diversity. A vast assortment of neighbourhoods, each with their own immigrant communities, contributes to the ecclecticism and tolerance that is unique to Montreal.

Montreal is a thriving urban centre because immigration feeds its evermore pressing demand for labour.

The CAQ is intolerant

The CAQ's plan to draft a charter on secularism has been well-reported. Legault's promise to invoke the notwithstanding clause to enforce a ban on religious garments for public servants, despite court disapproval, also provoked widespread outcry.

Last week, however, Legault announced that the Christian crucifix in the National Assembly would be exempt from such a ban because it is an "historical and not a religious symbol."

In fact, the Christian symbols that decorate public institutions all over Quebec seem to be safe from the CAQ ban. This hyopcrisy exposes the ban on religious symbols for what it is: a ban on non-Christian symbols that specifically targets Muslim women and Jewish men.

This move is fundamentally opposed to the values that define Montreal. This is a city of tremendous acceptance. Jewish and Muslim communities made the city what is today.

Montreal and the rest of the province of Quebec are are divergent economic and cultural paths. Montreal should secede from the province and become its own jurisdiction to preserve the identity it has developped and the people it has welcomed.

    Thomas MacDonald
    Senior Editor
    Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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