Since his campaign began, Justin Trudeau has been heralded as a force for positive change. The Liberal Party's campaign strategy heavily influenced such a conception, but the notion that "Trudeau means change" truly resonated with Canadians, and most notably, with Montrealers.
Trudeau has long since been a Montreal celebrity, having only gained more popularity since becoming Prime Minister designate. Having yet to even take office, Trudeau already stands as a symbol for a brighter future in Montreal.
Citizens have celebrated finally having a national leader that has Montreal's best interests at heart, an assumption that isn't quite unfounded. After all, Trudeau grew up here in Montreal, it's where he met his lovely wife Sophie Grégoire, and he's a devoted Habs fan. Even in an official sense, Trudeau has strong ties to Montreal, representing the riding of Papineau since 2008.
So we all assume Trudeau will act as a Prime Minister who will always do what's best for Montreal. But what would that be, exactly?
If Trudeau truly wants to help Montreal change, grow, and prosper, he needs to aid the city in gaining a “special status zone” outside of provincial regulations, granting Montreal governing powers akin to a city-state.
Trudeau would effectively save Montreal if he were to help the city gain more autonomy and decision-making powers; the problem of Montreal's declining economy may finally be solved.
Recently titled the worst Canadian city to run a business in the nation by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the sad state of Montreal's economic sector has never been more apparent. Yes, some of the issues outlined in the report exist at the municipal level, but the most damaging policies inhibiting Montreal's economic growth stem from the province itself.
Strict language laws have long since deterred major businesses and corporations from setting up shop in Montreal. Taxes in the province are the highest in North America, hurting Montreal as a result. Highly-trained young professionals, educated in Montreal, continue to exit the city after completing their programs, believing Montreal lacks professional prospects.
Combined, these issues (along with many more) have put Montreal in a steady economic decline, and Montrealers are craving change.
Photo cred - @nati1a
In a IPSOS survey conducted in 2013, a whopping 91% of Montrealers believed major changes need to be made to improve how Montreal is governed, with 74% agreeing the city requires a special status designation, thus allowing Montreal to govern itself unhinged from to rest of Quebec.
The same report inspired a proposed charter to endow Montreal with all the governing powers of a city-state, a decision that could ameliorate Montreal's economy, along with fixing a variety of other issues.
Anyone who believes that Montreal's vibrant culture could be hurt by a growing economy or autonomy from Quebec has an unfounded perspective. Montreal has always been the cultural capital of Canada, and will continue to be. A bunch of Anglophone businesses won't just rush in and dominate the city, because lets be honest, Montrealers wouldn't take that garbage anyway.
Ultimately, a more autonomous Montreal will need to be negotiated with the province of Quebec. According to René Bruemmer of The Gazette, who wrote a stellar piece that delves into exactly what changes would need to occur for a prosperous Montreal, city leaders will begin negotiating with the province this week. By winter 2016, an official parliamentary bill should be on the table.
But while Quebec will largely decide Montreal's fate as a metropolitan, an endorsement from the newly elected Prime Minister, one Quebec doesn't loathe, would go a long way to aid the effort. Because when the country's leader supports a movement, it's hard to ignore.
We, as a city shouldn't accept a declining Montreal any longer either. If we want to create a prosperous future for Montreal, we need to let Justin Trudeau, along with all of the municipal and provincial leaders know it's what we want for the city. Here's to Montreal, lets make the city even better than it already is.
For more on the topic, check out René Bruemmer's article here