Montreal: Mega-City Or Mega-Blunder?

The Effects Of Quebec’s
Municipal Merger Law On Montreal:
Mega-City Or Mega-Blunder?

Chad E. Tepper*


For more than a century, the Canadian province of Quebec has been embroiled in a bitter power struggle between its English (“Anglophone”) and French (“Francophone”) speaking citizens.1 At stake between these two communities is the survival of their respective cultures and languages.2 Over the last three decades, various pieces of legislation have resulted in political policies that have fostered the growth and vibrancy of the Francophone community, while decreasing the Anglophone population’s capacity to maintain its vitality.3 This study explores the strained relationship shared by the province of Quebec’s Anglophone and Francophone communities, and identifies how the implementation of the Municipal Merger Law is biased from its inception, by identifying the law’s negative financial, political, and social effects on Anglophones who reside in the municipalities that have been amalgamated into the city of Montreal.

The quiet revolution between the Anglophone and Francophone communities had reached its boiling point on November 15, 2000, when a municipal merger law, Bill 170 (“Municipal Merger Law”), was first introduced to the Quebec public.4 The


* The author would like to thank Nanci K. Ship for her invaluable insight and time, as well as Victoria A. Kummer for her generosity, guidance and kindness. Finally, and by no means last, the author would like to express his appreciation to his family for their unwavering support and confidence.

1 Paul-André Linteau, Quebec Since 1930 (James Lorimer & Co. 1991) (1986).

2 Since the turn of the century, French Canadians experienced a revival of “traditionalist nationalism,” which has been embraced to preserve their origins, language and religion (Catholicism). Any kind of influence that could have placed the French Canadian values in jeopardy, such as urbanization, government intervention or new cultural models imported from the United States, were treated as a threat that had to be resisted. Linteau, supra  note 1, at 76.

3 Alliance Quebec, Quebec’s English-speaking community: Who are we? Where do we live?, at (last visited May 15, 2003).

4  An Act to reform the municipal territorial organization of the metropolitan regions of Montreal, Quebec and the Outaouais, R.S.C., ch. 56 (2000) (Can.) [hereinafter Municipal Merger Law].


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Municipal Merger Law proposed to amalgamate sixty-four existing municipalities into five new mega-cities.5 The provincial government of Quebec approved the Municipal Merger Law on December 20, 2000.6 The five new mega-cities that spawned from this law are Montreal, Quebec City, Longeuil, Gatineau-Hull, and Lévis.7 Although the Municipal Merger Law has affected a vast amount [sic] of people and municipalities, Montreal is the only region that had to contend with a linguistic dimension that was not abundantly present in other locales concerned with the merger.8

Since the provincial government presented the Municipal Merger Law, eighteen mayors, as representatives of their constituents within their respective municipalities (within the Montreal Region), have unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the passage of this merger.9 Their legal argument was based on the platform that


5 See id.; see also Robert McKenzie, Federalists and Anglophones See Threat In Bouchard’s Quebec, Bigger Will Be Better, Toronto Star, Dec. 16, 2000, §NAR.

6 Municipal Merger Law. The Parti Québécois government imposed municipal mergers against the will of a number of the targeted municipalities. Peter Black, Montreal is now a city forever changed, Chronically Canadian, Nov. 9, 2001, available at http://

[The law’s approval] was a total disrespect for democracy. The P.Q. had not mentioned that they would amalgamate cities when they got elected, so it was not part of their electoral mandate. There was never any debate in The National Assembly on the bill and there was no public consultation. [H]ow undemocratic can you be?

Telephone Interview with Peter F. Trent, Former Mayor of the City of Westmount and the spokesman for the Coalition of Cities and Citizens Challenging Bill 170, (Feb. 21, 2003).

7 Louise Quesnel, Municipal Reorganization in Quebec, Can. J. Regional Sci. 127 (Spring 2002), available at  http://ultratext.hil.unb/ca/otcgi/llscgi60 (the sixty-four municipalities and the citizens within its borders that have been amalgamated into the mega-cities created by the Municipal Merger Law are distributed as follows: Montreal- 1.8 million people residing within twenty-eight municipalities; Quebec City- 504,000 people residing within thirteen municipalities; Longueil- 380,000 people residing within eight municipalities; Gatineau-Hull- 200,000 people residing within five municipalities; and Lévis- 118,000 people residing within ten municipalities).

8 See id. at 128. The Anglophones who reside within the Montreal region were not confident that the Municipal Merger Bill’s provisions adequately protected the rights of its English-speaking citizens. Of the twenty-eight municipalities that were slated to merge with the city of Montreal, fourteen attained the status of being bilingual under the Province of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language. Id.

9 Baie d’Urfé (Ville) v. Québec (Procureur Général) [2001] 3 S.C.R. xi [hereinafter Baie d’Urfé III]; see also Coalition of Citizens and Municipalities Challenge in 170- Professional examination reveals that only 21,961 people signed the petitionWe’re all Montrealers,” less than half the number claimed by Mayor Pierre Bourque; “One more reason, says the Coalition of Citizens and Municipalities Challenging Bill 170 to Call on Minister Louise Harel and the new Landry government to stop forced mergers and to put democracy first,” Can. NewsWire, Apr. 3, 2001, § Domestic News.

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the Municipal Merger Law violates the constitution and it would eradicate the linguistic rights guaranteed to bilingual municipalities in the Charter of the French Language.10 The implementation of the Municipal Merger Law was completely unnecessary, and counterproductive in achieving the provincial government’s goal of creating a fiscally efficient government.

Sections II and III outline the atmosphere that has led Quebec to its current state of political unrest between the region’s Anglophone and the Francophone citizens. Section IV predicts the consequences of the Municipal Merger Law and identifies regions that have implemented successful alternatives to municipal mergers and the reasons why their decision to do so has been effective. Section V explores the misconception of efficiency and savings that have been claimed by the provincial government to accompany municipal mergers like the one outlined in the Municipal Merger Law.

Section VI highlights efficient models of municipalities that utilize local government to manage successful communities. Section VII discusses the potential dwindling of the Anglophone work force in the Montreal mega-city due to the passage of the Municipal Merger Law and how the merger violates The Charter of the French Language, Canadian Constitution and The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Section IX explores the Anglophone community’s new strategy of combating the effects of the Municipal Merger Law. Lastly, section X closes the study by discussing the election of Montreal’s first mega-city mayor, and the possible challenges that face the Anglophone community.

II.  Challenges to Prevent the Municipal
Merger Law from Being Implemented

The first challenge to the passage of the Municipal Merger Law came on May 22, 2001, when eighteen mayors of municipali-


10 Glenn Wanamaker, Quebec Hauled Into Court, CNEWS Politics, May 17, 2001, available at Peter F. Trent voiced his opinion regarding Quebec’s Municipal Merger Law:

I don’t really see this through an Anglophone/Francophone prism. I see it as an affront to democracy [and] an abuse of power. It is a waste of money. All these things. To give good services, you are much better off as smaller unities … so I see it in that light. I don’t see it in as much a linguistic light, even though getting rid of the only Anglophone cities around is a slap in the face of English speaking people, but… there are many reasons to be against it.

Telephone Interview with Peter F. Trent, supra  note 6.


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ties that were to be amalgamated sought an injunction from the Quebec Superior Court.11 On June 28, 2001, the court denied the request, holding that the amalgamation was constitutional.12 This decision was in direct opposition to public support from a majority of suburban residents who expressed their dismay towards the forced municipal amalgamations via the use of public polls and non-binding referenda.13 Notably, the Superior Court decision’s dicta expressed its disappointment in the government for not consulting with its constituents before approving the law and for feeding into the language debate by declaring in the law that the new mega-city was to be unilingually French.14 On October 16, 2001, the Quebec Court of Appeal refused to overturn the Superior Court’s decision.15 The final blow to [the attempt to] prevent the passage of the Municipal Merger Law came on December 7, 2001, when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal to overturn the lower courts’ decisions to uphold the constitutionality of the Mu-

11 Baie d’Urfé (Ville) v. Québec (Procureur général), [2001] RJ.Q. 1589 [hereinafter Baie d’Urfé I].

12 Id. In dicta, Judge Maurice Lagacé reasoned:

Courts should not render judgments on the appropriateness or wisdom of legislative measures when the legislative and/or executive power acts within the scope of their respective constitutional jurisdictions or when the adopted measure includes provisions which respect citizens fundamental rights which are guaranteed either by the Canadian Charter or the Quebec Charter. Courts cannot intervene in political debates and substitute their opinions for those of people in power.

Section 92(8) of the Constitution Act, 1867, gives provincial legislatures full jurisdiction regarding municipal institutions, including the power to create, merge, reorganize or abolish them. Therefore, the national assembly had the necessary jurisdiction to institute the municipal reform. Municipal institutions are created by the legislatures and hold no constitutional status. The province has neither obligation to create nor maintain them. The province’s power with respect to municipalities is unlimited.


13 A non-binding referendum was conducted in a number of the suburban communities that were scheduled for amalgamation into the new mega-city of Montreal. The referendum asked the voters if they supported a reorganization plan that called for substantial tax increases and a decline in services. The voter turnout was between ten and thirty-five percent of the targeted areas, and of these voters, ninety percent or more of the voters rejected the amalgamation. Quesnel, supra note 7, at 127.

14 Id. (by declaring the new mega-city unilingual French, Anglophone citizens became alarmed that public services that they were accustomed to having in English might be abolished).

15 Baie d’Urfé (Ville) v. Québec (Procureur général), [2001] R.J.Q. 2520 [hereinafter Baie d’Urfé II]. (The Court of Appeals affirmed the Superior Court’s decision, holding that the issue at hand was not a legal question, but one of a political nature).

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nicipal Merger Law.16 As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the amalgamation of municipalities commenced January 1, 2002, initiating the process of forming the mega-city.17 Due to the successful implementation of the Municipal Merger Law, the Anglophone community predicted that the new law would effectively strip Quebec’s Anglophones of their culture and basic fundamental rights granted in the Canadian Constitution, legislation and under the Quebec Charter.18

The Political History
that Paved the Way
for Bill 170

In an effort to entrench and preserve the role of the French majority and to create a distinct society apart from the Anglophone community within Quebec, a string of legislation has been passed over the past thirty years designed to preserve French culture, language, and Francophone prosperity (as distinct from Federal, Canadian, or Anglophone prosperity). In 1969, Jean-Jacques Bertrand’s [Union] Nationale government passed Bill 63.19 This bill affirmed the primacy of the French language within the province of Quebec, while simultaneously supporting a parent’s decision to send a child to a French or English speaking school.20 Paradoxically, Bill 63 set a precedent for subsequent bills that have steadily increased the political stronghold of the Francophone community within the province of Quebec, while simultaneously decreasing the freedoms that Anglophones had once taken for granted.

The Francophone community’s drive to expand Francophone rights began to eclipse the Anglophone’s political and social equality in the early 1970’s. In 1974, the provincial government repealed Bill 63, ending the Anglophones’ linguistic equality with the


16 Baie d’Urfé III, [2001] 3 S.C.R. xi.

17 See Montreal Economic Institute, The Economic Arguments Against Municipal Mergers, Oct. 2001 available at

18 See Press Release, Alliance Quebec, Brief to the Estates General on the French Language: The English-speaking Community of Quebec, (Mar. 2, 2001), (on file with author), available at

19 See Linteau, supra note 1, at 443.

20 Memoranda from Mary Dawson, Q.C., Associate Deputy Minister, The Department of Justice, Ottawa, Can., to a Joint Session of Committee 3 (Indigenous Peoples) and The Human Rights Institute (June 2, 1999) at 3, available at const/boston.html.

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Francophone community.21 That same year, Bill 63 was replaced with Bill 22, entitled The Official Language Act.22 This Act not only established French as the primary language of Quebec, but also imposed a variety of restrictions regarding the use of the English language.23

The reelection of the Parti Québécois24 provincial government in 1976, along with the passage of Bill 101 the following year, has had a devastating effect on the atmosphere of co-existence that had once characterized the relationship between the Francophone majority and Anglophone minority within the province.25 Bill 101, otherwise known as The Charter of the French Language (“The Charter”), declared French as the official language of the courts, government agencies, public schools, and the provincial legislature.26 Moreover, The Charter also states that French is the official language of commerce, business, and labor relations.27 As a result of these provisions, the exclusive use of the French language is regulated in Quebec’s educational system and daily operation of businesses.28

The passage of The Charter has had a dramatic impact on the Anglophone community due to the severe restrictions imposed upon the use of the English language. The Charter mandates that all companies operating within the province of Quebec with fifty or more employees are required to operate their businesses utilizing


21 See Press Release, William Johnson, President of Alliance Quebec, The Historical Background of the Situation of English-speaking Quebecers, available at ca/English/needs.htm. (last visited April 12, 2002).

22 William Green, Schools, Signs and Separation: Quebec Anglophones, Canadian Constitutional Politics, and International Language Rights, 27 Denv. J. Int’l L. & Pol’y 449, 453 (1999).

23 Johnson, supra note 21, at 22. See also Green, supra note 22. (some things that are regulated by the Official Language Act are pamphlets, flyers, and documents on display stands).

24 To combat the deterioration of the French language and culture, the leaders of the Francophone community formed the Parti Québécois, a political party dedicated to the secession of Quebec from Canada. Memoranda from Mary Dawson, Q.C., Associate Deputy Minister, The Department of Justice, Ottawa, Can., to a Joint Session of Committee 3 (Indigenous Peoples) and The Human Rights Institute (June 2, 1999) at 3, available at

25 Green, supra note 22, at 454.

26 Charter of the French Language, R.S.Q., ch.ll (1977) (Can.).

27 Id. §41-71.

<td width=590 valign=top style='width:6.15in;border:solid #333333 1.0pt; padding:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt'28 William Green, Language Regimes, Minority Language Rights, and International Legal Issues: The Case Of Quebec Anglophones, 26 Syracuse J. Int’l L. & Com. 267, 268 (1999).

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the exclusive use of the French language.29 To ensure that this policy is enforced, each employer who fits the requirements established in The Charter is required to obtain a “francization certificate.”30 This government-issued certificate ensures that all businesses that meet the qualifications outlined in The Charter are acting in accordance with the law.31 As a result of these provisions, a vast number of employment opportunities that non-French speaking citizens could have obtained are no longer attainable.32

Consequently, the restrictions that have been imposed on the Anglophone community have prompted an estimated 350,000 English-speaking people to leave the province in search of work and cultural equality.33 Moreover, the loss of tax earnings created by this demographic shift has had a substantial impact on the provincial tax base.34 This mass exodus has not only depleted the Anglophone community of at least twenty-five percent of its population, but has also severely affected the power and political voice of the remaining Anglophones.35

The Francophone community comprises about eighty percent of the Quebec population.36 As such, the Parti Québécois, with its mandate to implement sovereignty, has had great success passing legislation within the province. Over the last two decades, Parti Québécois has twice held a referendum to have the province of Quebec declare its sovereignty apart from Canada.37 It first held an unsuccessful referendum on secession in 1980.38 In 1985, the Parti Québécois was defeated and lost control of the provincial government.39 Within nine years, the Parti Québécois were again in power and were committed to seceding Quebec from Canada, or at least commencing negotiations with the help of a second referendum held in 1995 to help voice their constituents’ desire to se-

29 Alliance Quebec, supra  note 18, at 8.

30 Id.

31 See id.

32 See id. at 12.

33 See id. at 9.

34 See id.

35 Johnson, supra note 21, at 23.

36 Dawson, supra note 20, at 3.

37 See Lawrence E. Harrison, Quebec Secession Revisited: Bouchard campaign stoking dangerous separatists sentiments. Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 23,1998, § Opinion.
38 Austl. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Country, Economy and Regional Information: Can. Country Brief, Mar. 2001, available at

39 Dawson, supra note 20, at 3.

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cede from Canada.40 The 1995 referendum evidenced the growing numbers of separatists who supported the idea of Quebec seceding from Canada.41 Notwithstanding the strong showing of separatists who voiced their opinion to support the referendum, it was defeated by a small margin.42 Despite the Parti Québécois’ failure to establish Quebec as a sovereign nation, they have managed to stifle the growth of the Anglophone community and secure a firm grip on the reigns of the provincial government.43

In spite of the turbulent history and severe restrictions that have been imposed upon the use of the English language within the Montreal area, fourteen Anglophone municipalities have been able to maintain the provision of services in English amidst the laws that have been passed by the Francophone majority.44 These municipalities were able to preserve the use of English in their public facilities, businesses and health services under section 29.1 of the Charter of the French Language.45 Section 29.1 of the Charter of the French Language states:

English Language School Boards, and the Commission scolaire du Littoral are recognized school bodies. The Office shall recognize of the municipality, body or institution,
(1) a municipality of which more then half of the residents have English as their mother tongue;
(2) a body under the authority of one or more municipalities that participates in the administration of their territory, where each municipality is a recognized municipality; or
(3) a health and social services institution listed in the schedule, where it provides services to persons who, in the majority, speak a language other than French; The Government may, at the request of a body or institution that no longer satisfies the condition which enabled it to obtain recognition of the office, withdraw such recognition if it considers it appropriate in the circumstances … .46
The Municipal Merger Law creates boroughs in place of the former municipalities, “officially” allowing Anglophone communi-


40 See id. at 4.

41 See Harrison, supra note 37.

42 Austl. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Country, Economy and Regional Information: Can. Country Brief, see supra note 38. (49.4 percent voted for the referendum and 50.6 percent voted against).

43 See Green, supra note 28.

44 Alliance Quebec, supra note 18, at 10.

45 Charter of the French Language, supra note 26, § 29.1.

46 Id.

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ties to retain their bilingual status.47 Although the boroughs will officially retain their bilingual status, services that were provided by these bilingual municipalities will have to be transferred over to the new mega-city government.48 Consequently, these services will no longer be provided in a bilingual capacity.49 Essentially, the Municipal Merger Plan’s promise to sustain bilingual boroughs is void in substance.50 More strikingly, due to the population demographics, it is unlikely that any borough not currently bilingual will ever become bilingual.

A.  Consequences Of The
Municipal Merger Law

As a result of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision holding the Municipal Merger Law constitutional, Anglophone municipalities have lost their local leaders, most of whom are now councilors in the new mega-city, in favor of larger government representatives who oversee a much larger group of constituents with a wider array


47 See William Johnson, The Ghost of Anglo Future, Globe & Mail, June 16, 2001, at Metro A13; see also Brenda Branswell, “Megacity Madness: the Parti Québécois’s plan for municipal mergers has united a political firestorm in Montreal, Maclean’s (Toronto Edition), Dec. 18, 2000, §Canada at 20 (the new mega-city consolidated the fourteen bilingual municipalities on the Island of Montreal into nine boroughs).

48 Press Release, Alliance Quebec, Brief on Bill 170: An act to reform the municipal territorial organization of the metropolitan regions of Montreal, Quebec and Outaouais (Dec. 2000), at 2, available at; see also Saba Syed, Champions for City Democracy Condemn Municipal Privitization, McGill Daily, Oct. 25, 2001 (lists municipal services that will have to be transferred over to the new mega-city such as garbage disposal, water supply, public transit, road maintenance, zoning, waste management sites, arts and recreation programs, liquor licensing and pesticide spraying).

49 Alliance Quebec, supra note 48, at 2.

From a linguistic point of view … the powers that the boroughs have are so exiguous, that the bilingual nature of the borough is a bit of a red herring. [T]he boroughs are empty shells. They have no legal status. They can’t hire, they can’t fire, [and] they can’t tax. They really are a subdivision of a larger city. Our argument for the courts … was to say; sure we are getting a bilingual borough, but we have an empty shell. It’s a bilingual empty shell, but it’s [still] an empty shell. [M]ost of the decisions are made downtown. [T]he law operates in French. In fact, the law of Bill 170 creating the five mega-cities says the City of Montreal is a French city. [I]t is very clear that the powers are centered in the center city and they have to operate in French. So while the borough still operates bilingually, most people haven’t realized that the power has shifted ….

Telephone Interview with Peter F. Trent, supra note 6.

50 The Municipal Merger Law states that all of the powers that a borough has control of may be revoked by the City of Montreal by a two-thirds vote of the council. Municipal Merger Law, R.S.C, ch. 56 at 98 (2000)(Can.); see also Press Release, Tyler Wordsworth, Municipal Restructuring in Quebec: A look at the proposed changes and a critique of Bill 170, (Nov. 2000), (on file with author).

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of interests and concerns.51 Due to the mega-city merger, the Anglophone boroughs will be disadvantaged because they will have no autonomous legal existence, ending their ability to hire or fire municipal employees and to legally apply to the courts.52 Moreover, the newly established boroughs will not have any authority to prevent the new seventy-three-member city council from overturning any of their decisions.53 One can only assume that with even less political clout in their future, many Anglophones will continue to leave the province with their children.54 The Municipal Merger Law’s effects on the region could ultimately result in the significant dissipation of the Anglophone population within the province of Quebec.

IV.  The Quebec Government’s Reasoning Behind the Municipal Merger Law Proves to be Misguided from Its Inception

The Quebec government’s stated reasoning behind amalgamating a number of the province’s municipalities into mega-cities does not justify the implementation of the Municipal Merger Law. It insists that the main reason for implementing the Municipal Merger Law is that the amalgamations would improve the region’s equity, efficiency, global competitiveness, and social democracy.55 In contrast, the underlying motive for imposing the amalgamations upon some of Quebec’s municipalities seems to have been an at-


51 Before the Municipal Merger Law was implemented, there were two hundred and fifty six representatives that fought for the needs of their constituents throughout the twenty-eight municipalities that form the new Montreal mega-city. Branswell, supra note 47, §Canada at 20. Once the amalgamation took effect, the number of representatives within the mega-city was reduced to just seventy-three. Municipal Merger Law at 77; see also Janice Arnold, Côte St. Luc’s Jewish Character Said Threatened By Mega-City, The Canadian Jewish News, Feb. 8, 2001, available at feb8-01/front5.asp.

52 Johnson, supra note 47, at 1.

53 Municipal Merger Law at 98; see also Arnold, supra note 51.

54 Fewer students obviously means fewer teachers. But it also means fewer specialists and therefore a limiting of enriched educational opportunities for our [Anglophone] children. Fewer children also means fewer parents involved in community-based activities. And smaller population bases translates into fewer patients and clients for English language health and social services institutions. And this also means fewer volunteers to augment services with their time and financial support.
Alliance Quebec, supra note 3.

55 DémocraCité, The Merger of Montreal: One Step Forward or Two Steps Back? (July 2001), at

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tempt to eradicate the bilingual Montreal-area municipalities that had earlier passed partition resolutions to remain within the control of Canada in the event that Quebec achieved sovereignty.56

The Quebec government’s reliance on regional equity to justify implementing the Municipal Merger Law is unfounded. The Parti Québécois asserted that it was necessary to amalgamate the municipalities that surrounded the city of Montreal to eradicate the fiscal disparities between rich and poor districts.57 This line of reasoning is unfounded because the Montreal Urban Community, which was an inter-municipal organization, already operated to facilitate sharing the costs of public security, mass transit, environmental quality, and territorial development for the entire island of Montreal.58 Moreover, the government’s motivation is misguided and unnecessary based on a census that concluded that bilingualism boosts the earning power of English and French speaking people and not necessarily the amalgamation of municipalities.59 Based on the political infrastructure that was already in place before the municipal mergers took place, the provincial government’s reasoning for implementing the municipal amalgamations appear to be illogical and inefficient when compared to other alternatives that could have been utilized at a fraction of the cost and time. The goals of the Montreal Urban Community were the mirror image of what the Municipal Merger Law was created to accomplish.60 By utilizing the Montreal Urban Community’s established political infrastructure, the provincial government


56 See Branswell, supra note 47, §Canada at 20.

57 Id.; see also Press Release, Alliance Quebec, Alliance Media Perspectives (Mar. 10-16, 2001) available at

58 Tyler Wordsworth, Municipal Restructuring In Quebec: A Look at the proposed changes and a critique of Bill 170, November 2001. The Montreal Urban Community’s mission statement states,

The mission of the Montreal Urban Community is to manage, in an integrated manner, the resources and services common to its member municipalities which contribute to the character of the island and are necessary to its development. This mission is part of a joint effort to build a diversified, tolerant, unified society which is proud of its history, its quality of life, its projects and its achievements.

Montreal Urban Community Organization Website, 2000, at

59 Alliance Quebec, supra note 57.

60 See Montreal Urban Community Organization Website, supra note 58; see also Kevin Dougherty, Split Decision: Liberals would adopt law letting residents register opposition to municipal mergers, Montreal Gazette, Feb. 26, 2002 (the Montreal Urban Community was dissolved on January 1, 2002 when the Montreal mega-city came into existence).

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could have accomplished its goals while maintaining the Anglophone community’s sense of culture and history.

If the provincial government wanted to increase its total capital by expanding the pool of municipalities from which it could ask to participate in cost sharing, it could have just included the off-island suburbs under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Community of Montreal.61 The reality of the situation in Quebec is that many suburban municipalities already transferred a third of their taxes to the Montreal Urban Community.62 In a number of circumstances, a third of suburban municipal taxes could turn out to be more per capita than in Montreal.63 Therefore, the Quebec government’s reasoning is faulty at best and provides no valid basis for amalgamating Quebec’s municipalities.

Municipal mergers do not necessarily increase the chance of creating a tax system with equal revenue distribution. The provincial government could have looked to the American city of Indianapolis to verify this assertion.64 Indianapolis was amalgamated in 1969 without a public referendum, similar to the way the Quebec government forced the amalgamation upon its municipalities.65 The city adopted a conservative business oriented government and created its policies and agenda accordingly.66 Stemming from the city’s pro-business attitude was a practice that utilized a large amount of taxpayer dollars to subsidize private construction projects.67 As a result of funneling tax dollars to private business ventures, the communities who were the source of the tax revenue for these private business ventures were forced to raise additional capital on their own in order to provide for the maintenance of their community sidewalks.68

After more then three decades, the amalgamation of the city of Indianapolis has not positively affected its government’s ability to create an even-handed tax structure or an efficient method of


61 Peter Trent, Parts Of It Are Excellent, May 13,1999, available at http://www.geocites. com/davidnicholson_99/13May99Trent.htm.

62 DemocraCitd, supra note 55; see also Trent, supra note 61 (in a financial sense, the suburbs were already partially merged with Montreal).

63 D£mocraCite\ supra note 55.

64 Joseph Cooper, The Impact of Amalgamation on the Socio-Economic Life of Toronto, Spring 1997, available at http://www.provcomm.nel/pages/joe/amalgamation.htm.

65 Id. at 5.

66 Id.

67 Id.

68 Id.

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delivering services to its citizens.69 Despite the Quebec government’s public assurances to its constituents of increased efficiency and equity that will accompany the creation of the Montreal mega-city, Indianapolis is a perfect example of the view that an amalgamation of a region does not guarantee efficiency.

A.  Lessons Lost from Prior Examples of Municipal Mergers

Past incidences have demonstrated that a merger of municipalities can create an atmosphere of inefficiency and increased governmental expenditures.70 In support of this assertion are documents originating from the Quebec government, revealing that there will be a $304,000,000 (Can.) annual deficit in five years time, due to the formation of the new Quebec mega-cities.71 Despite this fact, the provincial government steam-rolled the Municipal Merger Law past its constituents under the guise that it would ultimately save the region a large amount of capital.72

Based on past incidences of municipal amalgamations, implementing the Municipal Merger Law was not a prudent move to achieve the goals of fiscal efficiency and adequate governmental representation within the province of Quebec. In 1998, Toronto merged with six surrounding suburban municipalities, with the intention of creating a fiscally efficient government.73 In order to ease the fiscal cost of the merger on Toronto, the government of Ontario loaned the city $200,000,000.74 The provincial government projected that the streamlining of services would save the city an estimated $350,000,000 annually.75 This estimate turned out to be severely inaccurate.

Thus far, the amalgamation of Toronto has only saved the city $136,000,000 per year, albeit, the savings have to be used to offset the $276,000,000 per year in additional monetary responsibilities transferred by the province.76 A budget shortfall of $305,000,000 occurred in the year 2001 as a result of the added expenses and


69 Id.

70 Joel Baglole, As Cities Gobble Up Their Suburbs, Costs Spiral; Creation of “Supercities Proves a Big Headache“, Wall St. J., May 23, 2001.

71See Press Release, Peter F. Trent, Mayor of Westmount, Gazette Editorial, (May 21, 2001), (on file with author). Note that all dollar figures are in Canadian dollars.

72 Id.

73 Baglole, supra note 70.

74 Id.

75 Id.

76 Id.

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lower than expected savings.77 These budget shortfalls are projected to continue for the next ten years.78 Moreover, Toronto presently employs a larger workforce then it did before the amalgamations of its municipalities were implemented.79 In light of the aforementioned facts, the Ontario government admits that the new city of Toronto is less efficient than the six cities it replaced.80

Other Canadian cities have experienced similar dismal results. In 1996, the government of Nova Scotia merged the city of Halifax with three surrounding municipalities to form a mega-city.81 The provincial government’s intention behind the merger was to eliminate duplication of costs and expand its tax base.82 As a direct result of the merger, property taxes have risen almost seventeen and a half percent in the outlying areas of the amalgamated city, and estimated merger transition costs have increased from $11,000,000 to $24,000,000.83

Patterns of increased governmental expenditures due to municipal mergers are presently affecting the municipal merger that Canada’s capital, Ottawa, had conducted.84 Ottawa amalgamated with eleven other municipalities on January 1, 2001.85 The complete amalgamation will not be completed until 2004, but the antic-


77 Id.

78 DémocraCité, supra note 55.

79 DémocraCité, Toronto Lesson Backfires!, Merger Alert, No. 18, Aug. 30, 2001, available at 8.htm.

80 Baglole, supra note 70.

81 Id.

82 Id.

83 Id.

84 Id.

85 Id.

86 Baglole, supra note 70.

87 Id.

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thereby eliminating the forecasted capital savings that could have potentially accompanied a streamlined workforce.88

In fact, amalgamating municipalities can lead to an increase in capital expenditures.89 For example, if municipality “A” previously paid its recreation workers less than those in municipality “B,” where recreation was not as important to voters, it is likely that the new mega-city will have to implement one uniform pay scale throughout the mega-city at a higher rate.90 Montreal is one of the least efficient cities in Quebec, with both the highest paid employees and greatest number of employees per capita.91 Despite the city of Montreal’s poor track record of efficiency, the newly acquired boroughs are going to have to rely on the city of Montreal’s poor management to negotiate future collective agreements.92 Moreover, many municipalities are opposed to joining the mega-city because they view Montreal’s militant unions as a potential source of trouble.93

Additional costs that the newly amalgamated region will have to face are the costs of paying logistic consultants and canceling leases on municipal buildings.94 Furthermore, the merger will entail downsizing the municipal work forces.95 As a result of the provincial government’s effort to streamline its workforce, the province is going to have to expend a substantial amount of severance pay to the employees that will be losing their positions within its former municipalities.96 If decreasing governmental expendi-


88 Howard Husock, Address at Montreal’s Omni Hotel, Why Bigger Local Government Isn’t More Efficient: The Case for Breaking Up Cities (May 18, 2001) available at http://

89 Id.

90 Id.

91 Wordsworth, supra note 58.

92 Id.

The problem in Montreal is not fiscal inequity, or competition between municipalities, or the fact that we don’t all speak with one voice to the outside world; the problem is the inefficient size of the City of Montreal. Let’s break it up into smaller, more efficient, more locally responsible pieces instead of creating another bureaucratic mastodon. Our megalomaniac politicians will then certainly lose power and prestige, but it is ordinary citizens in the whole region who will benefit.

Martin Masse, Let’s Break Up The City Of Montreal, Le Québécois Libre, Feb. 19, 2000, available at

93 Branswell, supra note 47, §Canada at 20.

94 Baglole, supra note 70.

95 Id.


96 Id.

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tures and streamlining the Quebec government is the goal of the Municipal Merger Law, then reconsidering the methods to attain those objectives is essential.97

Unification of Municipalities Is Not a Prudent Method to Increase Quebec’s Power of Trade Within Canada and Abroad

Unifying Montreal with its surrounding municipalities will not necessarily help it compete commercially against other mega-cities within Canada and abroad.98 A chief justification for why a municipality would grant zoning or permit changes within their neighborhoods for a developing business is that any increased congestion or pollution would be offset by the increased tax benefits and job opportunities for its constituents.99 However, when the municipality merger is completely in place, residents in these neighborhoods will not realize the benefits of a developing business within their area.100 In fact, residents are more likely to sustain liabilities if a business moves into their neighborhood.101

Despite the Quebec government’s intentions to redistribute capital from the wealthier municipalities to the poorer ones through amalgamation of the municipalities, the opposite is bound to occur once the wealthier municipalities realize that they have nothing to gain by accepting the growth of new businesses within


97 Peter F. Trent commented on the immediate effects of the Municipal Merger Law:

We haven’t seen the linguistic or financial debacle that we predicted, very simply because it has only been a year. We all know that in Toronto, the real financial debacle occurred three years after the merger. It’s like The Queen Mary: it doesn’t turn around that quickly. We are going to see an effect but it wont be right now. [0]f course, the key point is that if the threat of de-merger goes away … then of course the [provincial and mega-city governments] can start turning the screws, and they would no longer have to use white gloves—- A lot of these measures I was in agreement with because the French language is indeed precarious in Quebec. However, wiping out English cities, I think, is going much too far. I draw the line at that.

Telephone Interview with Peter F. Trent, supra note 6.

98 Husock, supra note 88.

99 Id.

100 Id.

101 See id. (presenting the idea that the increased tax revenues will not go directly to the surrounding neighborhoods which foster the growth of the new business, but instead will be dispersed throughout the entire city; dispersing the tax revenues in this fashion would give little incentive for citizens to allow industry to flourish in their backyards if their community is not directly entitled to any additional tax revenues).

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their neighborhoods.102 Moreover, businesses that reside in many of Quebec’s smaller municipalities are going to have to make significant adjustments in order to sustain their viability.103 As a result of the Municipal Merger Law, many businesses that are used to dealing with a local government that is close at hand will now have to readjust the methods they used to receive permits, tender contracts and lobby for representation of their views.104 Due to the increased quantity of constituents that have to be represented by fewer representatives within the new bureaucracy of the mega-city, companies may have to resort to hiring professional lobbyists to represent their needs and give them a voice amongst the amalgamated municipalities.105

It was not necessary to amalgamate Montreal’s former municipalities to increase the province’s industrial growth. Research has not substantiated a relationship between the level of governmental decision-making about trade and business policies and their affect on increasing a region’s international competitiveness.106 American cities which have been able to capitalize on economic booms such as Boston, Atlanta, Miami and the county of Santa Clara, California, which encompasses Silicon Valley, enjoy independently governed municipalities.107 In fact, within the Miami area, eight new municipalities seceded from the enormous Dade County government within the last ten years.108

The Quebec government could have had its municipalities work together on specific issues for which it would have made more sense to pool their financial and organizational resources. An example of a region that has implemented a system to accomplish this goal is Boston.109 Boston is composed of numerous independent cities and towns, but they pool their governmental and financial resources to create one metropolitan-wide public transit


102 Id.

103 Perspectives Online, Not Business as Usual, Winter 2001, available at http://ariad-ltd. com/clients/GPC/Merger.html.

104 Id.

105 Id.

106 Montreal Economic Institute, supra note 17.

107 Id.

108 Husock, supra note 88.

109 See id.

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district and one metropolitan-wide water and sewer district.110 These are known as “special purpose districts.”111

Furthermore, some of Boston’s surrounding municipalities have arranged agreements among themselves known as “fire protection mutual aid” agreements.112 This type of agreement among the municipalities provides that in case of a large blaze, fire trucks from around the area agree to provide back-up support, so that one municipality does not have to pay for trucks that go unused for a majority of the time.113

The notion of incorporating elements of a unified constituency could be beneficial for situations listed in the previous paragraphs, but merging the municipalities to achieve the Quebec government’s goals is unnecessary. Instead of merging the municipalities, the Quebec government could have utilized the various province-wide organizations that were already established to unify the region’s political voice.114 For instance, one objective that a province-wide organization could effectively take charge of is mobilizing the region’s constituents to lobby higher levels of government and international organizations with the aim of obtaining subsidies, prestigious events or projects.115 The Municipal Merger Law is not needed to accomplish the task of unifying the region’s political voice.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned benefits of a unified political voice, the truly important elements to a city’s prosperity are its basic services and competitive taxation levels.116 As past precedents have demonstrated, amalgamating Quebec’s municipalities could run counter to what the Quebec government’s “official” goals are. If the provincial government wanted to promote the vitality and opportunities that Quebec has to offer, it could have been taken up by inter-municipal organizations already in existence, such as The Metropolitan Community of Montreal or Montreal International.117 The Quebec government had all of the

110 See id.

111 See id.

112 Id.

113 Id.

114 Id.

115 Montreal Economic Institute, supra at note 17.

116 Id.

117 Id.

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resources it needed to achieve its goal of creating a globally competitive city without utilizing the Municipal Merger Law.

Efficient Models of Municipalities Which Utilize Local Government

American cities such as Boston and Atlanta provide models of local governments that foster efficiency and interaction from their respective communities.118 Both of these cities established metropolitan councils, representing more then one hundred municipalities within each region.119 These councils offer guidance with respect to regional issues and business development, while permitting the communities to develop and blossom at a local level.120

The local governments established in Boston and Atlanta, demonstrate that this kind of regional government is both cost-effective and promotes accountability, attributes which are usually found in small-scale municipal governments.121 When members of these councils meet, they make decisions regarding issues that involve their respective regions.122 If a decision is made that calls for an increase in taxes, then the communities that are affected by the decisions of their elected representatives pay the bill.123 These councils use a system called “tax-based sharing,” which means that each municipality pays in proportion to their financial capability.124 The municipalities share their collective capital without merging or making every municipality conform to one style of municipal management.125

Based on successful models of government exemplified by ma-cities within the United States, the provincial government


which voted against the merger plan when local referenda were held, one has to conclude that their citizens were satisfied with the services they received. These politico-economic successes were nonetheless jeopardized in order to solve the problems of the central city, an administration notoriously indebted, badly managed and with deficient services.


118 Baie d’Urfé’s constitutional argument will he first: Me Guy Bertrand; Toronto’s mega-nightmare about to become a reality for Montreal: Michael Prue Merger; Legislation so unnecessary: Mayor Anne Mytes, CAN. News WIRE, May 16, 2001.

119 Id.

120 Id.

121 Id.

122 Id.

123 Id.

124 Id.

125 Id.

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should have realized that implementing a metropolitan council form of representation would have resulted in increased cost efficiency, while maintaining the culture and political voice of the Anglophone community as well as other minorities that are located within Quebec.

VII.  The Anglophone Work Force Could Be in Peril Due to the Passage of the Municipal Merger Law

Based on history, Anglophones will not have equal opportunities to acquire civil service jobs within the province of Quebec after the amalgamation.126 Even before the planned amalgamation of Quebec’s municipalities, civil service job postings in Quebec were rarely sent to English community newspapers or job banks that served the Anglophone segment of Quebec.127 This fact is buttressed by statistical evidence that was compiled in 1996.128 The statistics revealed that only about three quarters of a percent of those employed by the Quebec civil service spoke English, even though the Anglophone community comprised approximately fourteen percent of Quebec.129 Despite a recent push by the Quebec government to hire an increased number of English-speaking civil service employees, that increase has not resulted in an English-speaking civil service proportional to the number of Anglophone citizens who reside within the region.130

VIII.  The Passage of Bill 170 Violates Linguistic Protections Afforded to Bilingual Quebecois

By designating the new mega-city of Montreal as a French-language city in the second sentence of the Municipal Merger Law, the provincial government is effectively erasing the rights of all its Anglophone communities that were established under section 29.1 of the Charter of the French Language.131 As a result of the Que-


126 Alliance Quebec, supra note 18, at 7.

127 Id. at 14.

128 Id.

129 Id.

130 Id. at 15.

131 James Brooke, Westmount Journal; Both ‘Phones Take Megaphone Against a Megacity, N.Y. Times, Dec. 8, 2001; “The bill provides for the recognition granted under section 29.1 of the Charter of the French Language to be maintained in the boroughs deriving from the cities that had previously obtained that recognition, unless, at the request of

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bec government’s proclamation, services that should be afforded to the new boroughs of Montreal in both languages according to their bilingual status, would only be delivered in French, as they would fall under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.132

Under the formation of city boroughs that have replaced some of Quebec’s municipalities, the predominantly English speaking regions have become minority districts within the larger French-speaking boroughs.133 As boroughs, the former municipalities are held to abide by provincial laws, which essentially prohibit offering services in languages other then French.134 Some key services that Anglophones will have to surrender to the French speaking mega-city are tax services and their English-speaking municipal courts among other things.135 In addition, Anglophone municipalities will suffer because they will lose their right as a municipality to require English as a job skill.136

The Forced Municipal Merger Law Violates the Canadian Constitution and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

The provincial government unconstitutionally and un-democratically delegated powers of taxation to a Montreal Transition Committee, which disbanded once the amalgamation of the


the borough, the recognition is withdrawn pursuant to that section.” Municipal Merger Law, R.S.C, ch. 56 at 3 (2000) (Can.).

132 See Brooke, supra note 131.

133 Id.

134 Id.

135 Id.

Bill 170 establishes a new process to integrate the existing municipal courts within the new city. Consolidating the municipalities therefore implies abolishing judicial appointments. The Constitution Act, 1867, gives the provinces a complete and exclusive power over the creation, maintenance and organization of their courts. The exercise of that power cannot be accompanied, in the name of protection of judicial independence, with an obligation to maintain the employment of all judges of the abolished courts or to ensure a salary for the judges until their retirement. The provisions of Bill 170 which abolish municipal courts and create a new municipal court are within the province’s jurisdiction. The power to abolish a court is not an impediment to judicial independence. The structure established by Bill 170 is not a concealed removal of certain judges (emphasis added). Bill 170 provides that certain judges will keep their status of judge and will be considered able to perform their duties. Which also apply to judges who will not be chosen.

Baie d’Urfé II, [2001] R.J.Q. 2520.

136 Alliance Quebec, supra note 18, at 10.

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municipalities commenced on January 1, 2002.137 The Transition Committee, consisting of people who were not chosen with any input from the community, made decisions concerning the outcome of the municipalities with relative impunity.138 Its members consisted of a group of handpicked corporate elites who were paid one thousand dollars a day to plan the transition of the city’s affairs behind closed doors.139 The un-elected members who made up the Transition Committee were not held accountable to the municipalities affected by their decisions.140

Additionally, the decisions that were implemented were not subject to review by any additional government organizations.141 As such, they were protected from public scrutiny regarding the appropriateness of the way in which they were spending public taxes.142 As a result of the lack of accountability and transparency, numerous cities had withdrawn their services from the Transition Committee.143 The lack of representation regarding the passage of the Municipal Merger Law has created a strong opposition within the communities that lost their municipalities to the boroughs of the Montreal mega-city.144 In fact, seventy-five percent of Quebecois believe that the provincial government had no mandate to proceed under the Municipal Merger Law.145

The prevailing mindset among more then three quarters of the citizens of Quebec is that the government should have consulted its

The prevailing mindset among more then three quarters of the citizens of Quebec is that the government should have consulted its


137 137 Town of Bale d’Urfé — No taxation without representation and no expropriation without compensation, municipalities threaten[ed] by Bill 170 plead. Can. NewsWire, May 25, 2001;
Municipal Merger Law, R.S.C., ch. 56 at 3 (2000) (Can.)

138 See id.

139 139 Doing The Civic Duty, With Louis, Municipal Politics, Ugly But Important, available at (last visited June 11,2001)

140 140 Can. NewsWire, supra note 137.

141 Id.

142 Id.

143 Id.

144 Cities and Citizens Challenging Bill 170- Forced Municipal Mergers are anti-democratic and will mean much higher costs to citizens despite the government’s promises; Conclusion’s of the most recent poll in 8 municipalities effected by forced municipal mergers, Can. NewsWire, Jun. 11, 2001.
145 Id.

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citizens by way of referendum or in an election.146 Through the use of the Municipal Merger Law, the Quebec government is violating the Anglophone community’s right to self-determination under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.147 A most apt definition of a transition committee, like the one implemented in Montreal, was best stated by John Sewell, the former Mayor of Toronto: “When a duly elected body is stripped of its powers and those powers are given to an appointed body, this is often referred to as a ‘coup.’ That’s what occurred in both Toronto and Montreal!”148

IX.  Moving from an Anti-Merger Stance to a De-Merger Position

Since the bill forcing amalgamation of Quebec’s municipalities into the new mega-city of Montreal was introduced, citizens of the areas affected have taken a strong political stance to voice their dismay over the undemocratic acts of the Parti Québécois149 Aftershocks of the Municipal Merger Law resulted in citizens turning out at the polls on November 1, 2001 to voice their concerns about whom they wanted to elect as their mayor in the new Montreal mega-city.150 When the votes were tallied, it was announced that Mayor Pierre Bourque, who had been the Mayor of the city of Montreal since 1994, and campaigned on a pro-merger platform, lost to Gerald Tremblay, who campaigned as a defender of the suburbs.151 In a show of support for democracy, forty-eight percent of the voters elected Tremblay in contrast to the forty-four percent of voters who turned out for Bourque.152


146 Id.

147 Quebec Coalition Against Municipal Mergers-Anti mega merger protest blocks downtown traffic for more then 4 hours; Opposition leader Jean Charest joins participants who accuse the Quebec government of ignoring the will of a majority of its citizens and call on Premier Landry to cancel Bill 170, Can. NewsWire, May 11, 2001.

148 See Press Release, John Sewell, former Mayor of Toronto, It’s high time to save Montreal from the Merger Virus: Says former Mayor of Toronto and well-known promoter of Local Democracy, (Apr. 19, 2001), available at en.htm.

149 Donald McKenzie, Montreal voters send message to PQ Gerald Tremblay elected as mayor of amalgamated mega-city. Can. Press, Nov. 5,2001, available at http://www.canoe. ca/CNEWSQuebec0111/05_montreal-cp.html.

150 Id.

151 Court Allows Creation of Montreal Mega-City, Toronto Star, Dec. 8, 2001.

152 McKenzie, supra note 149.

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The November 1, 2001 elections illustrate the frustration and helplessness that the Municipal Merger Laws created for the affected municipalities who were not given a choice regarding the implementation of the Municipal Merger Law.153 Out of a total of 717,000 eligible voters in the city of Montreal, and 573,000 voters who reside in the surrounding municipalities that merged with it, only about forty-eight percent of registered voters turned out to cast their votes.154 The cultural, economic, and linguistic factions that decided this election were publicized in surveys that were taken when the candidates were campaigning for office.155 The surveys revealed that large numbers of Bourque’s supporters were composed of Francophones and Montrealers.156 In contrast, Tremblay’s backers consisted of a large amount of Anglophones and wealthy suburbanites.157

Under the leadership of Gerald Tremblay, who is a Harvard-educated businessman and a member of the Montreal Island Citizens Union, Anglophone districts have won unprecedented political clout.158 English-speakers and allophones159 make up about fifty-five percent of the residents who supported Mayor Tremblay’s election.160 This shift, a diametrical opposite to the power base at the provincial level, represents a new power structure in municipal politics that could transform the new mega-city into an obstruction for any future referenda offered by the Quebec provincial government advocating a move towards sovereignty.161

Due to the support offered by the Anglophone and suburban communities, analysts predicted that Mayor Tremblay’s supporters could expect to reap some rewards for backing him.162 Predicted


153 Id.

154 Id.

155 Id.

156 Id.

157 Id.

158 Alexander Norris, Montreal’s Power Shift: Vote is a True Sea-Change Offering Influence, Opportunities for Anglos, Montreal Gazette, Nov. 10, 2001.

159 «in Canada, allophone means a person whose first language is neither English nor French,” Glossary, Canada Online —, at (last visited May 15, 2003).

160 Id.

161 Id. “What was supposed to be a unified city purged of pesky English mayors led by a PQ-friendly mayor is now an instantly divided artificial city, led by an unabashed Liberal mayor whose strings will be pulled by suburban politicians, many of whom are Anglophones.” See Black, supra note 6.

162 Id.

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benefits that these communities are expected to receive, are a more decentralized approach to running borough governments as well as a substantially larger budget for the boroughs that have replaced the old suburbs.163 Juxtaposing the optimism that has accompanied Mayor Tremblay into power are disappointing reports of a conspiracy linking the Tremblay administration with the Liberal Party to quash the decentralization movement.164

Despite allegations of political misdealing, Montreal’s Anglophone community can use its political voice via the use of signed petitions in support of de-merger legislation. If the Anglophone community can mobilize quickly enough to present Mayor Tremblay with a highly publicized petition calling for a referendum supporting the de-merger process, it is going to be hard for Mayor Tremblay to ignore the Anglophone community’s demand for action. The longer the former municipalities allow the amalgamation process to continue, the more expensive it is going to be to undo the municipal mergers.165

A.  The Cost of Reversing Quebec’s
Municipal Mergers

Reversing the effects of the municipal mergers could prove to be a very expensive venture.166 Based on facts gathered by a provincial government study, the Quebec government estimates that it


163 Id.

164 Don Macpherson, Liberals Hope Promise Will Go Away, Montreal Gazette, Feb. 27, 2001, at B3.

As long as the PQ remains committed to secession, it keeps the Liberals’ core vote in line for them. This is the approximate one-third of the electorate made up of unconditional federalists including almost all non-francophone voters …, Avoiding de-mergers in Montreal is obviously in the interests of both Tremblay and the Liberals. For the Liberals, it’s useful to have a natural ally as mayor of Quebec’s largest city, and Tremblay is a former Liberal cabinet minister with close ties to the party. And Tremblay’s electoral base consists of the former suburbs.


165 Kevin Dougherty & Linda Gyulai, Split Decision: Liberals would adopt law letting residents register opposition to municipal mergers, Montreal Gazette, Feb. 26, 2002. (increased costs to residents of the former municipalities might act as a deterrent for people who would otherwise sign a referendum calling for de-merger legislation); see also Don’t Believe The Hype, Montreal Gazette, Feb. 27, 2002 (de-merger costs could be up to one thousand Canadian dollars per resident).

166 More Than 400 Million To Reverse Mergers Against Municipal Mergers, Can. Press, Nov. 10, 2001.

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would take about $430,000,000 over the course of five years to reverse the municipal merger process within its province.167

The heavy sum comes from a study prompted by the Minister of Municipal Affairs to examine a possible price tag to restore eight of the largest cities that are located within the province to their original configuration before the mergers had been implemented.168 Factors that could contribute to the high cost of implementing the process of undoing the mergers are expenses for the increase of remuneration of elected officials and the dismantling of various operations created to increase the efficiency of the mega-city.169 Moreover, costs to prepare referenda, hold studies, conduct elections, appoint transition committees, hire workers and create new municipal structures can also be anticipated to contribute to the price tag of undoing the effects of the Municipal Merger Law.170

X.  Conclusion

Armed with an efficient model of government that has been established by major cities located within the United States, the province of Quebec should have utilized the Montreal Urban Community, which was composed of elected representatives from municipalities located around the greater Montreal region. This would have been more cost-effective then implementing the Municipal Merger Law and it would have given the Anglophone community located within the province of Quebec a greater voice in the administration of their government.

The clash between the Anglophone and Francophone communities has been occurring for decades. Despite the passage of the Municipal Merger Law, the Anglophone minority has managed to keep its head above water by switching its struggle for cultural dexterity from the legal arena to the political arena.171 Although the legal battle between the Anglophone and Francophone communi-


167 Id. see also Black, supra note 6. Despite the heavy price tag of reversing the effects of Quebec’s Municipal Merger Law, critics of the amalgamation assert that reversing its effects would not be any more complicated than forcing the mergers upon Montreal’s surrounding municipalities in the first place. Id.

168 Undoing Municipal Mergers In Quebec Would Cost $430 Million, Wednesday-Night, Nov. 9, 2001, available at http://www.wedenesday-nighl/MergerNotes.asp.

169 Id.

170 Id.

171 Coalition of Cities & Citizens Challenging Bill 170, Can. NewsWire, Dec. 7, 2001 (on file with author).

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ties over the implementation of the Municipal Merger Law has been decided, one can expect that the quiet revolution between these two opposing cultures will continue to exist far into the new century based on past experiences.172

Notwithstanding the political controversy between Mayor Tremblay’s camp and the Liberal party, the Anglophone community should continue to lobby the provincial and mega-city governments to regain the political, cultural, and economic benefits that it once enjoyed under the former municipal jurisdictions. In order for this to be feasible, the Anglophone community is going to have to act immediately, before other factors such as labor unions, politics, and mega-city bureaucracy make the possibility of implementing de-merger legislation unfeasible.


172 Peter F. Trent expressed his predictions for the City of Montreal for the years to come:

For the moment, things are going relatively well linguistically …. My prediction is when Tremblay is no longer there, and he is not going to be there forever, he will be replaced with another Populist like Bourque, because Montreal has a tradition of Populist mayors going back for a century. Obviously the French and linguistic [issues] will no longer be as sensitive a point, and so English services will definitely decrease. [C]osts will definitely increase and the true financial debacle that I predicted will actually occur …. The small councils in some cases that still exist for the boroughs will eventually disappear, in my view, and we’ll see one homogenous city, the way all other cities tend to go. I don’t hold out much hope for a decentralized city, which Tremblay promised, [and] which he has yet to deliver on. So what can I tell you? I think ten years from now people will say [the municipal mergers were] a mistake. The way people in Halifax are still saying it’s a mistake now … I am afraid I can’t end [this interview] on a positive note, but 1 have fought it for three years and my last gasp is the possibility of de-merger, and if that doesn’t work out, then I will have to get on with my life.

Telephone Interview with Peter F. Trent, supra note 6.


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