By Beryl Wajsman on June 9, 2013

Il vient un temps dans les affaires entre gouvernants et gouvernes ou chaque action de l’administration publique aiguise la mefiance du peuple et ou le defaut d’agir suscite sa colere. C’est la ou nous en sommes rendus a Montreal. Tout contrat social entre les citoyens et l’Etat demande une certaine cession par le peuple de sa liberte et de son tresor. Rien de plus. Le contrat social n’exige nullement l’abdication de nos prerogatives. Le contrat social ne permet pas l’imposition au public de fardeaux financiers additionnels sous la forme de penalites en guise de punition pour des services pour lesquels les contribuables paient deja des taxes, mais que leur impose la bureaucratie gemissante de l’administration publique. Montreal besoin un marteau pour un maire!

Someone who will, first of all, force the unions to adjust their pension benefits and retirement ages and if they don't then that Mayor should be prepared to declare a state of emergency which is within the powers and purview of the Mayor. If necessary institute mass firings – as President Reagan did with air traffic controllers - and bring in army engineers for infrastructure work. Le maire de Montreal doit etre resolu a s’asseoir avec les leaders des cols bleus en leur assenant une nouvelle entente. Public sector unions – unlike industrial unions – have long ago broken any semblance of status quo regarding job security and wages and daily commit torts on the public they are obligated to serve. By definition all public service jobs are essential services. 

Freer6.jpgSecondly, cut the budgetary envelope called "Loisirs et culture" that eats up 25% of our budget and amounts to $750 million of legalized pork-barrel vote-buying. It is institutionalized, “legal” corruption  that has resulted in a quadrupling of property and business taxes. A city that cannot get the core basics of municipal services right – public transit, roads, snow and garbage removal, water and sewage provision and treatment and public security – cannot afford such political self-indulgence. As examples, we did not need some $13 million spent on skateboarding rinks in the west and east ends; some $10 million more on leisure programs in our parks arenas and some $15 million on multi-cultural organizations. People have to learn to be self-reliant in their personal pursuits.  

Third, reduce the number of elected officials. If New York gets by on forty, we don't need almost three times as much. Nous ne devons pas depenser plus de $100 millions par annee pour des frais de consultants externes, tandis que la ville emploie deja plus de 10 000 bureaucrates cols blancs. Bill 9 that created the borough system was a devil’s stew. But Bill 133, which devolved powers to the boroughs, was a legislative abortion of unparalleled proportion. It created 19 little fiefdoms with 19 little feudal lords. It has been said that the only thing more dangerous in politics than little people exercising a lot of power is little people exercising little power but thinking it is a lot. That is what has happened in Montreal.

Dans le but de perpetuer leur propre patronage sinon leur propre pouvoir, les administrations des arrondissements se sont mis a l’avant-garde de la perpetuation non seulement de reglements inutiles, mais aussi de la bureaucratie qui leur est inherente.  Leur leitmotiv semble etre : « Nous reglementons, donc nous sommes ».  Pendant ce temps, c’est nous, les citoyens, qui payons le prix.  Ces 19 gouvernements dans notre ville, les dedoublements et la bureaucratisation qu’ils imposent, nous coutent annuellement presque $200 millions.  

Fourth, create new sources of revenue by allowing air rights. We are the only major city in North America that doesn't. We have no other way to expand our tax base. We need to get our development policies kick-started. We all agree that development must be responsible. But there is clearly a limit to horizontal growth. Land is limited. Green spaces should be appropriately protected. But what we can do – and what has been done by environmentally conscious cities like Toronto and Vancouver – is encouraging air right development in the city’s core. Heritage buildings can be preserved and respected and in many cases incorporated into new buildings. As much as we have to cut unnecessary social engineering programs and reduce government size, we must create new sources of tax revenues if we are to keep  pace with passing savings from the former on to citizens. The best solution is air rights.

Fifth, assure foreign investors of tax incentives and exemptions for their executives from our language laws so we get the talent and money we deserve. Sixth, make old Montreal a tax free zone for tourists as Rene Levesque suggested. Seventh, return expenditure savings  to the people through  massive cuts in business and property taxes so small businesses start up again. They account for 80% of new jobs and Montreal has more vacant storefronts than at any time since Jean Dore. Les Montrealais sont deja les citoyens urbains les plus taxes de l’Amerique du Nord.  Et il y a vingt mois, nous avons ete frappes par la plus importante hausse de taxes de l’histoire.  This year Montreal, for the first time, was dead last out of the 22 largest urban centres in North America in economic growth. Eighth, get rid of borough governments and the Agglo council. It`s needless, money-consuming and makes important decisions almost impossible to effect in a timely manner. 

Ninth, build a highway and rail link parallel to the 20 through Turcot and end the senseless consultations about manmade lakes. Tenth, restore downtown circulation. Allow three hour parking at meters so people have time to shop, go to dinner, see movies and theater. And get rid of the bike paths that have cut almost 1000 parking spaces from the downtown core affecting business terribly. That includes closing the money-losing Bixi, which its operators have admitted will not show a profit until 2016. Enough of subsidizing eco-theocrats. 26,000 Bixi users versus 400,000 drivers. It is time to end the anti-car hysteria. As the Frontier Center for Public Policy has demonstrated, no amount of parking increases or other levies have reduced car use in any  major North American cities by more than 2%. A Mercer International study demonstrated Montreal was cleaner than most cities including Toronto .  It is time for an administration at Montreal’s city hall with the courage to end the pandering.

Downtown Montreal is a third of Quebec`s GDP and half of Montreal`s. We need to get it moving again and not have cops handing out tickets generating back-door revenue. Finally, make Montreal a bilingual city. That does not mean reducing French predominance. It does mean that if an individual or corporation needs information or documentation in English there will be a cohort of civil servants to provide it immediately without it becoming a blown-up political issue. We can have a freer, fairer, richer Montreal. It just takes a Mayor with courage who does not resort to false pieties and political correctness to win votes by running between the raindrops trying to please everyone.

Les politiques actuelles font de nous tous des victimes.  Il nous faut reconquerir nos libertes.   Nous avons peut-etre besoin de mobiliser une coalition de victimes, en clamant : « Assez, c’est assez ! ».   Assez de reglements et de legislations etouffants.  Assez de jeunes qui se voient imposer des amendes de $500 pour avoir mis leurs pieds du mauvais cote de la bordure betonnee du parc Emilie-Gamelin.  Assez d’inspecteurs dans le Vieux-Montreal et dans NDG qui fouillent dans nos sacs a vidange pour y trouver nos adresses afin de nous imposer des amendes de $1000 parce que nous aurions sorti nos sacs trop tot.  Assez de commercants sur l’avenue du Parc qui se voient imposer des amendes de centaines de dollars pour ne pas avoir coupe l’herbe sur les trottoirs municipaux.  

Assez de proprietaires du Centre-Ville qui se font coller des amendes parce que leurs restaurants ou leurs bars n’ont pas visse des cendriers « officiels » a cote de leurs portes d’entree.   Assez d’amendes qui criminalisent les sans-abris.  Assez de hausses des tarifs de parcometre tandis que la ville cache des profits records.  Assez de marchands qui se voient tenus responsables du maintien de la proprete des trottoirs face a leurs commerces.  Assez de quartiers comme Ville-Marie qui instituent certaines des amendes les plus offensantes afin de punir des comportements innocents tout en s’en vantant par des publicites via des depliants affirmant, en lettres en caracteres gras, que « les coupables seront punis ».  Et coupables de quoi, au juste ?  D’etre humain, en echappant un emballage de friandise ou en fumant une cigarette sans se faire imposer les taches des employes municipaux.  Nous avons besoin d’etre libres de nouveau.  Nous avons encore besoin d’une cite libre !

Our taxes are supposed to cover the basics. Garbage collection, snow removal, public security, public transit, and water and sewage. It should not be up to the citizens to pay additional costs to manage what they have already paid for. The job of elected officials is not to engage in social engineering. To impose fines forcing citizens to do what is the city’s work — street cleaning, garbage collection, maintenance of public spaces — is stark malfeasance at worst and double taxation at best. To impose fines on citizens for making personal choices about personal risk borders on social fascism. For municipal politicians to offset their responsibilities onto the backs of the public is an admission that they can’t do their jobs. 

A une epoque de restrictions budgetaires, il est inacceptable que l’ont ait procede a l’embauche de 110 officiers charges d’imposer des amendes aux citoyens qui traversent les rues ailleurs que dans les zones cloutees.  Le seul but de cette mesure est de faire croire aux citoyens qu’ils sont des criminels, en plus de leur soutirer davantage d’argent en amendes payees a la municipalite.   We have turned the law away from being an instrument for justice — a shield of the innocent and a staff of the honest — and made it into a revenue generating machine. The provincial government can pass whatever laws it wants. It can hire as many inspectors as it wants. But how much of local police resources are used to enforce personally invasive statutes is up to the civic administration. Our police should have a human, and most of all a fair, face.

Our false piety on environmental issues must be brought to a halt. We all agree that the internal combustion engine does damage to the environment. But that is not something municipal administrations can affect. It will take federal government initiatives to make hybrid cars more affordable. Municipal governments nationally control areas of jurisdiction that affect only 2% of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of speaking these truths, Montreal has witnessed an anti-car mania among elected officials. They use a convenient lie to pander for votes from environmentalists who they think vote with greater frequency. But their measures perpetuate lies. Anti-car measures further assault an already battered center city. And they will contribute nothing to the environment. With some eighteen percent of storefronts vacant in the city center, and many bars and restaurants suffering a 25-33% drop in revenues since the smoking ban, it is time to let downtown breathe and build again.

Les Montrealais meritent une administration municipale qui aura le courage de faire face aux dures verites et qui en parlera avec clarte et candeur. Qui parlera de cette verite que nous vivons dans une epoque d’austerite. Que l’Hotel de Ville ne peut pas, et ne doit pas, agreer aux desirs de tout le monde a la fois. Que nous devons remettre les choses a l’endroit et ensuite voir ce qui peut etre fait de plus pour ameliorer les choses.


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Beryl P. Wajsman

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