One of the things that stands out in my mind regarding the merger of the cities on Montreal island involves former Verdun Mayor, Georges Bosse. After the merger Bosse became a key player on Montreal’s notoriously secretive Executive Committee. Soon after he was the City’s main shill for the massive, and awesomely ill conceived, Devimco project for Griffintown (connecting some dots, anyone?). At one point he actually said that the Devimco project would be great for Verdun businesses on Wellington Street. Now that took quite a stretch of the old imagination to picture a bunch of nouveau condo owners for some strange reason deciding to trek to Verdun to do their important shopping. My point here is that politicians, and developers, will say just about anything, make the wildest speculations possible, in order to make their projects more attractive, and people will buy it simply because it promises positive economic development.
And so it was with the merger, an entity that was supposed to solve a lot of economic issues for all the former Montreal Urban Communities. But there was a choice as to who would lead the city after the merger between Pierre Bourque and Gerald Tremblay. I was at a debate on the West Island and watched Bourque and Tremblay debate before a very hostile audience. Bourque, who was terrible in English, did not connect with what was bugging people at all as he promised great things for the merger. Tremblay, who was definitely not a separatist (nudge nudge wink wink), made promises about fighting the merger and that seemed to provide some bitter satisfaction for the audience, there was a faint light at the end of the merger tunnel. Montreal was going to be a great city again, that was the bottom line.
The merger was wrong, a universally acknowledged failed project, and so was voting for Gerald Tremblay. For some of us corruption at Montreal City Hall was painfully obvious. But the voters who put Gerald Tremblay in three times need to rethink why they supported him, why they decided to continue to support such an incompetent and corrupt administration, and why they feared any and all alternatives.
Henry Aubin: Corruption rise mirrors city’s growth
MONTREAL — Gérald Tremblay is gone as mayor, but a major reason for the upsurge in corruption remains intact and unchallenged: the merger.
One of the significant things to come out in testimony before the Charbonneau inquiry is the linkage between the growth of corruption and the creation of the megacity.
The chronology that three witnesses — Lino Zambito, Gilles Surprenant and Luc Leclerc — have given for illicit activities sheds light on how corruption and collusion existed at a relatively low level in Montreal during the 1990s, then boomed in the years following the enactment in 2000 of the law for the merger of all municipalities on Montreal Island.
Almost no one in the political class talks about this correlation. The merger is still a sacred cow for most provincial and municipal politicians of all parties. The merger enjoys immunity from criticism, too, by most media commentators. Yet the merger is the elephant in the corruption room.
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