Mr. Pierre Laferrière, president, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Montreal, May 12, 2000 "The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal deplores that the government of Quebec is not more open to the creation of bilingual neighbourhoods under its municipal mergers plan. We are in favour of a number of mergers in the Montreal region, and particularly on the Island of Montreal," affirmed the organization's president, Pierre Laferrière.
"The Board of Trade is in favour of voluntary municipal mergers supported by concrete incentives" stated Mr. Laferrière. "The first obstacle to these mergers is a certain tax imbalance, quite apparent in the Metropolitan area. The second is the existence of sections in the Labour Code that reduce the advantages of municipal mergers. However, the government of Quebec is proposing that wage conditions be settled through arbitration and we are prepared to wait for concrete cases to see if this mechanism will produce satisfactory results."
"However, in the Montreal area, and in particular on the Island of Montreal, the elimination of any possibility of creating bilingual districts in newly merged of bilingual and French municipalities constitutes an unacceptable hindrance to mergers that could result from the collective will of the elected officials and citizens of various municipalities."
"While the Board of Trade considers it a priority to see a metropolitan body created to enhance cooperation in the Montreal region, we favour mergers likely to reduce the number of municipal administrations that contribute to a complex political and administrative landscape. Moreover, we believe it is in the interest of the entire urban centre to strengthen the central city, Montreal, both through fiscal rebalancing measures and by allowing it to gradually increase its demographic weight in the metropolitan area."
"We therefore ask the Quebec government to find an equitable solution allowing for mergers between cities that historically enjoyed bilingual status and unilingual administrations," concluded Mr. Laferrière.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has more than 7 000 members. Its mission is to be the leading group representing the interests of the Greater Montreal business community. The objectives are to maintain, at all times, relevance to its membership, credibility towards the public and influence towards government and decision-makers.