Cover photo cred - Flickr
With the upcoming provincial elections, and BMOs recent report on the failing economy of Montreal, the specific needs of Montreal have been brought to the forefront of debate.
We spoke with Michel David, one of the main supporters for the sovereign state of Montreal, and got some hard numbers and facts on the benefits of Montreal becoming a city state. Specific facts and figures referenced below came from David himself, and the two major texts of the Reinvent Montreal group (Reinventing Our Governance & Proposed Charter)
Montreal Can Be Canada's Entrepreneurial Hub
Montreal can, and should be, a site for both English and French entrepreneurs to invest and grow. Compared to the city's population, Montreal reaches only half of its entrepreneurial potential. More businesses and foreign investment will galvanize the city's declining economy.
City States Already Exist and are Proven to Work.
The concept of the city-state is not new (existing well before nation states) and are proven to work in modern settings. Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Berlin, Hamburg, Buenos Aires, New York are proven success stories. Better still, there is no exact definition on the powers of a "city state" and Montreal could easily adapt the concept to maintain an amicable relationship with the ROQ.
Montreal Citizen's Already Agree Change is Needed
An IPSOS survey of citizens' point of view found that 91% of Montrealers believe drastic steps need to be taken in order to improve Montreal's governance. 90% believe Montreal is different from the rest of Quebec, while 74% believe the city deserves a special status within Quebec. Going off on the sentiments of the citizens of Montreal, it seems like the transition of Montreal into a city state would be welcomed. Which makes sense, the citizens of Montreal would only benefit from the city having more money to spend on fixing social, and not just economic, issues.
Montreal is Economically Different From the Rest of Quebec
Most of Montreal's economy is "brain-based," being centered on commerce and systems of information and knowledge. The ROQ's economy is wholly focused on agriculture and natural resources. In a corporate setting, this would work fine. A person would be put in charge of the Montreal 'branch' of the corporation and another for the ROQ, both with equal power that wouldn't limit the other. Instead, the ROQ's focus is limiting the growth of Montreal's vastly different economic makeup.
Quebec's Rules & Regulations Push Away Foreign Investment
With Montreal's economy based on commerce, outside investment and entrepreneurship is crucial to growth. However, businesses are turned off by Montreal's enforced language laws and regulations, which are enforced by the provincial government. Statements like Diane de Courcy's recent rant on how bilingualism will be squashed in Montreal is an excplicit example of how foreign English speaking investors would be turned away from Montreal.
Montreal is in on an Economic Decline
You can't argue against numbers. The city of Montreal has been in a steady economic decline over the past 15-20 years, and has become the poorest of North America's largest cities. This fact is not lost the population, as 55% of Montrealers agree the city is in a decline, and 76% believe the city's reputation has similarly suffered over the last 10 years.
Montreal Will be Placed on the Same Playing Field of Other Canadian Cities
BMO already commented how Montreal should adopt a legislative system like that of Toronto, one in which the city will be given more freedom to govern itself apart from the provincial government. Toronto and Ontario are Canadian examples of how a looser relationship between city and province benefit both. Giving Montreal the same freedoms will allow Montreal to compete with other Canadian cities and flourish at the same rate.
The Same System Will Yield the Same Results
Continuing to limit Montreal's economic freedoms and maintaining the enforcement of provincial laws will only continue the decline the city presently suffers. David points out if the PQ wins a majority in the coming election, the existing laws that negatively impact Montreal (e.g. language laws) will only be reinforced and further hurt the city's growth.
No Political Party is Specifically Addressing the Topic
Okay, not a "specific reason" but a point that should be made aware to everyone. No political party has pushed for making Montreal an independent city-state, which is fine, but the benefits should be discussed. If Montreal's specific needs are to be met, political leaders need to view Montreal as a unique entity with its own economic and cultural climates.
Montreal is Culturally Different From the Rest of Quebec
The rest of Quebec (ROQ) is almost entirely homogeneous (made up of one group) while Montreal is multi-ethnic cosmopolitan city. 51% of Montreal residents are not native French speakers, and 80 different ethnic groups live on the island. Montreal must adhere to the rules of the majority, despite being made up of varying cultural groups with different needs and desires.
Do you think Montreal should be an independent city state?
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