There are an alarming number of areas where Montréal's mayor Valérie Plante and provincial Premier François Legault are in contention. On top of that, their positions on each of these issues couldn't be more oppositional. The tension is pretty disconcerting for citizens of Montreal who can feel like children watching mom and dad disagree.
Unfortunately, the process of asking mom, hearing "no," and trying again with dad is turning out to be a bit of a losing game.
TL;DR Whether it's immigration, transportation, marijuana, or religious symbols, our premier and our mayor just can't seem to get along. While Legault and Plante have put forward a positive face, there's no denying that the city of Montreal sits in uncertain times with these two standing head-to-head.
Below are listed four points of dispute between the mayor and premier. The Legault government is expected to launch most of its policy proposals in 2019. That could make the next year politically frustrating for Montreal residents. Even worse, these disagreements could produce confusion and uproar in the province's largest city.
Expect a year of political turmoil.
Legault was elected premier at the beginning of October and he's been quick to talk legislation. He's tabled two bills in two months, both in an effort to live up to campaign promises. The first issue that demanded the CAQ's attention was the federal legalization of marijuana, enacted just weeks after the Quebec provincial election.
The CAQ tabled a bill last week that would make the legal age to purchase marijuana three years older than the legal age to purchase tobacco or alcohol in Quebec. They also hope to make it completely illegal to smoke marijuana in public. This poses an issue that Plante was quick to bring up.
Sixty percent of Montreal's residents don't own their homes and could thus be faced with the inability to legally smoke marijuana anywhere if their landlords prohibit the practice. Plante stated she was waiting to see how the province decides to move forward but does not agree with this kind of ban.
Moreover, two opposition parties took the time to criticize the legislation as studies widely show raising the legal age of regulated substances often leads to an increase in black market sales.
The most recent point of contention was brought to light last week amidst the minister's meeting with Trudeau. Legault has been very vocal about his plans to reduce immigration to Quebec and he took the opportunity to mention it again recently. Even Trudeau made a point of addressing the issue, citing labour shortages across the province as a reason to hold off on turning away newcomers.
Ignoring federal input, the provincial government tabled legislation that intends to cut immigration by 20%.
Mayor Valerie Plante responded last Wednesday by announcing a plan to better welcome immigrants to Montreal. Legault has cited lack of proper integration in the past as a reason to slow down immigration in the future, until a new immigration system can be put in place. The lack of integration is likely in reference to those immigrants that don't speak fluent French upon arrival.
Plante, on the other hand, feels that city services should be open to everyone, regardless of legal standing or national origin.
The mayor plans to set aside $24 million for immigrant aid alone. This aid will assist with employment and other services, including French language lessons. She considers it her domain because at the end of the day, 70% of Quebec's immmigrants end up in Montreal.
While Legault is chief of the province, it was Plante that was present at the UN's recent Mayors Migration Council meeting to discuss the Global Compact for Migration this week.
Will be interesting to see how the Mayor of Montreal reacts to the announcement by the Quebec gov't that it intends to cut immigration by 20%.— Lynne Di Cocco (@Fealty2facts) December 5, 2018
Plante used the occassion to note the importance of equipping municipal governments with the resources necessary to help migrants. She also called for cities to be the leaders in discussions about migration.
Immigration is largely an urban issue, there's no question about that. However, the uban metropolis of Montreal exists within the province of Quebec, which means Plante must inevitably answer to the legislation that Legault enacts.
Another urban issue that causes Plante and Legault to butt heads is transportation. Since their meeting on October 26th, the Mayor and the Premier have been good about showing a united face. However, there's no denying that the Pink Line is a area where the two don't see eye-to-eye.
Plante has been adamant since her own election that Montreal is in desperate need of a fifth metro line (and she's not wrong). However Legault and Plante made complimentary, agree-to-disagree statements on the issue of transportation after their first meeting at the end of October.
Legault admitted that Montreal public transit is overburdened. But the premier has no intention of spending the billions of dollars it would take to contruct the Pink line. Instead, his government has committed to bettering suburban roads and infrastructure.
Legault has proposed a ban on religious symbols for certain publicly-employed positions. He is adamant that the majority of the province supports this move towarwds secularism. He has also explained that the crucifix which hangs in the National Assembly is not a religious symbol but a historical representation.
Plante said she would wait to see Legault's draft bill before commenting, however the city council did file an official motion voicing its opposition to any such ban.
She told CTV that demontrations of faith, like head coverings, have no "impact" on a public servant's ability to perform their duties.
It is clear that these two are going to continue to butt heads while they both have charge over our little Île de Montréal.
And for who will come out on top of each issue, we'll just have to wait it out and see.
In the meantime, the disputes between the municipal and provincial governments are sure to prove extremely frustrating to Montreal residents in 2019.