Montreal is the poorest of North American cities of similar size, and grew at half the rate of other major Canadian cities (Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver).
The root of the problem: Montreal must follow the same rules regarding language and taxes as the rest of Quebec, even though the city has very different demographics, economic industries, and cultural priorities.
Montreal continues to lose workers and profitable businesses because of this.
The solution: Montreal must become a city state, a "special status zone" outside of provincial regulations. Montreal will then be able to flourish, following regulations fitted for the city, and not the rest of Quebec.
Analysts from the National Post have already commented on this topic. Now, prominent Montreal politicians and journalists feel the same way.
Celine Cooper, in her recently published op-ed in the Montreal Gazette, specifically addresses how Montreal's ability to grow has been inhibited by the provincial government. Despite housing half of the province's population (providing 65% of provincial tax revenues) and being the economic powerhouse of the province, Montreal's needs aren't being addressed. Cooper uses the newly released provincial budget as evidence, where nearly no money is being given to fix the city's pertinent problems or provide economic growth.
Cooper is adamant that the fiscal relationship between Montreal and Quebec needs to be overhauled and reworked. Denis Coderre, Montreal's mayor, feels the same, having stated that “It’s time a major economic engine of the province and the country is accorded more rights.” Francois Cardinal of La Presse similarly believes "what Montreal needs is special treatment, more autonomy and more diverse sources of revenue."
Making Montreal an autonomous city state may seem like an extreme idea, but it's one with serious benefits that must be considered. The provincial government may lose power and control over its major economic provider, but allowing Montreal to operate independently will only make the city more profitable, as Montreal will be able to work within its own unique cultural and economic framework. Montreal, the province, and the nation at large would then benefit.