Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced a series of measures that aim to ease the minds of both business owners and customers during the holiday season. From November 14 to December 31, 2020, all street parking in Montreal will be free during the weekend.
The measure applies to the entire territory of Montreal's 19 boroughs. Wherever there's a parking meter, you can park for free!
I am giving us the collective challenge of taking advantage of the holiday season to save Montreal's commercial vitality.
Mayor Valérie Plante
The mayor hopes that these measures encourage more people to drive into the city to do their holiday shopping.
Business owners on the main commercial arteries such as rue Saint-Denis, rue Sainte-Catherine, and avenue du Mont-Royal will likely benefit from these measures as more potential customers can drive and park with peace of mind.
With Canada Post warning people that their packages might be extremely delayed during this year's holiday rush, Montrealers from both the downtown core and the suburbs can take advantage of free weekend parking to support local businesses.
"I invite Montrealers to consume locally this holiday season," said Plante in a press release.
"It is together that we will contribute to the survival of our businesses."
"We live in a francophone province in a francophone city from a legislative perspective, but the reality of Montreal is far different," the leader of Mouvement Montréal said in an interview with MTL Blog.
"So, for us, it was important to re-establish the identity of Montreal, which is one that is inclusive."
"We want to make clear that we want companies on the Island of Montreal to be able to operate in both languages without interference from the provincial government," Holness said.
And it calls for a review of the city's hiring processes to allow anglophones with "functional-level, but not high-level, French" to land municipal jobs.
He would also amend article 13 of the city charter to change Montreal from "a French-speaking city that, according to the law, also provides services to its citizens in English," to a bilingual one.
A lot of people agree, Holness says
"This is not a contested question," Holness said, citing a survey showing most Montrealers believe the city is bilingual. "We all know Montreal is bilingual and multicultural and it is something that we should embrace and recognize."
"Moreover, Montreal beyond that is even trilingual," he continued. "There are people from all over the world who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian. And all of these languages make up the diversity of Montreal, and it enriches us all."
Rather than contributing to the decline of French in Montreal, Holness said his language policies would help preserve it by offering non-francophones incentives to learn.
"The fact that we are going to incentivize and ameliorate the chances of anglophones to work in the City of Montreal means they'll be able to learn French through their employment activity," he said. "We're going to be increasing la francisation des anglophones."
"Right now, what's happening is that we're excluding anglophones," he continued. "They're moving to demerged cities such as Westmount, such as Côte Saint-Luc, such as Kirkland. They're not being incorporated into the reality and to the economic life of Montreal, and we're just pushing them all away."
Holness wants more jobs for people with spotty French
If elected, Mouvement Montréal would work to create a more inclusive municipal workforce because it's currently falling short in terms of ethnic and linguistic diversity, he said.
Of the city's roughly 25,000 municipal employees, "only about 2% of those in management positions are visible minorities and even less of those are anglophone," Holness claimed.
To change that he plans to lower the French language requirements for municipal jobs.
"Right now, when you go in for a [municipal] job, there is an evaluation based on your capacity to speak French," he said.
"So, we want to create assessments and evaluations of language that are less severe to allow individuals to get into the workforce. And then they can learn French, once they are on the job, through their interactions with their coworkers and with the public."
"The idea is that anglophones, especially those that are visible minorities, should have an easier time getting into the workforce," he continued.
'They don't want to be inclusive'
On November 7 people will vote to elect a mayor as well as 46 members of Montreal's City Council.
The current mayor, Projet Montréal's Valérie Plante, is seeking re-election and her main challenger is the previous mayor, Ensemble Montréal's Denis Coderre.
As Plante recently introduced an "action plan" to promote the French language in Montreal and Coderre is reportedly open to provincial government-led language reform, Holness accused his opponents of trying to impose provincial ideas on the metropolis.
"Valérie Plante is from Rouyn-Noranda, Denis Coderre is from Joliette," he continued. "And there's this whole idea that the regions are imposing on Montreal their vision for Montreal. And the question is, what do Montrealers want for their city?"
"Many people across the region say Montreal is the only francophone city in North America, and they're right, but Montreal also has a bilingual multicultural reality," he said. "So you have Quebec City trying to impose an identity on Montreal does not meet reality, which is multilingual and multicultural."
"We need a multilingual and multicultural policy and beyond that, a political party that reflects that diversity through and through," he added.
Projet Montréal does not reflect that diversity, he concluded, explaining how he helped organize a grassroots anti-racism movement, which he says prompted the city's public consultation agency to hold a series of hearings on systemic discrimination in 2019.
As a result, Plante created a commissioner on systemic discrimination and promised to hire more minorities for municipal jobs. But Holness had sharp words for the mayor, saying she only took those steps out of "obligation."
"The reason why there was a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination is because the administration had an all-white French executive committee when they were elected in 2017. Period. That's their vision of Montreal," he said.
"They don't want to be inclusive," he said. "Mouvement Montréal, my political party, is by its very nature, authentically diverse. We've done in two months what it took them nearly two decades to do, which is have a diverse team."
Ca Lem's owner, Stephanie Le, told MTL Blog that clients just need to download the TikTok app and show their account to the cashier in order to receive free pancake cereal sundaes — which are, of course, topped with maple syrup.
"We encourage users to take video and pictures of their visit to Ca Lem and post on Instagram, Facebook & TikTok platforms," she said.
There are limited quantities each day but the offer is valid at two of Ca Lem's locations — in NDG and the Plateau — so you can double your chances of getting a free sundae.
Free Pancake Cereal Ice Cream Sundaes
When: July 16, 17 and 18
Address: NDG - 6926, rue Sherbrooke O, Montreal, QC; Plateau–Mont-Royal - 4223, rue Saint-Dominique, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: It's free ice cream, that's why!
The City of Montreal and Formula E organizers have finally reached a settlement after five long years of deliberations and arguments. The saga, which involved a lawsuit against the city and Mayor Valérie Plante following a cancelled 2018 race, is finally over thanks to the out-of-court agreement.
In a press release, Benoit Dorais, chairman of the executive committee responsible for finance and legal affairs, said that the city "authorized an out-of-court settlement in the amount of capital, interest and costs of $3 million payable by the City to Formula E Opérations Limitée (FEO) in full and final settlement of the case."
Ensemble Montréal's Lionel Perez said in a Twitter post that "this 'promise' has no credibility"
Independent city councillor Marvin Rotrand echoed Perez's statement. "Don't be conned," he wrote. "Her promise has lots of caveats."
Why is it taking so long to get body cameras for the SPVM?
The first pilot project for body cameras in Montreal was in 2016.
In a January 2019 report, the SPVM concluded that "the experience of the project did not unequivocally demonstrate that portable cameras promote the transparency of police interventions."
The SPVM at the time also claimed that body cameras could "weaken the bond of trust between the population and the organization, or even the justice system" if, for example, police decide to withhold body camera footage of a highly publicized incident.
In a December 2020 interview with MTL Blog, Rotrand argued that "there's no political will" for the mayor's party, Projet Montréal, to move forward with body cameras.
With an election on the horizon, it's clear that body cameras will be a critical campaign issue for all parties involved.
This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.