One might think that the recent showdown between the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) and the mayor of Québec over the tramway was completely useless. After all, the CAQ, which wanted to show its muscles by suddenly demanding new conditions, ended up backing down.
Posted at 5:00 a.m.
But for the new mayor of Quebec, this little political game was risky.
All the former great mandarins he had consulted had told him: “Don’t go into confrontation with the government. This is inappropriate. They will make you eat your black bread on everything else, ”said Bruno Marchand, during an editorial table with The Press.
Deeply convinced, he stuck to his guns by drawing inspiration from his mother’s words: “It’s better to die free than to live as a slave. »
In the end, his guts helped arouse the solidarity of cities across Quebec, who denounced the provincial government’s interference.
We should be happy to see such a common front forming on the municipal side, when no one seems able to counterbalance the CAQ, which is all-powerful in the National Assembly.
Moreover, the results of the by-election in Marie-Victorin on Monday confirmed the extent to which the opposition was fragmented, while the major traditional parties, the Parti Québécois and the Liberal Party, are looking for a new DNA. Quite a challenge six months before the elections.
The CAQ could therefore emerge even stronger from the next election. And the opposition, more fragmented than ever.
However, a healthy opposition is essential in a democracy. Not to play stage managers. But to question the party in power, to confront its ideas and to advance the debate in a constructive way.
This role, the mayors can assume.
“We need to be more bearers of the message”, admits Bruno Marchand. In his opinion, the mayors, who lead local governments, must take the microphone to assert the needs of citizens and to guide decisions in Quebec.
After all, we are no longer in the logic of the 1950s, when municipalities were only creatures of Quebec, only good for clearing snow and picking up garbage! Since Claude Ryan’s reform in the early 1980s, cities have gained financial independence which gives them leverage.
And the new wave of more progressive mayors, newly elected, like Catherine Fournier in Longueuil or Évelyne Beaudin in Sherbrooke, has all the legitimacy it takes to exercise a balance of power with the CAQ on issues where we would like to see more leadership from the government.
Think of the housing crisis that Quebec always seems to downplay even though the issue is affecting families across the province. Minister Andrée Laforest has just offloaded the problem of renovations to the courts of cities.
Take also the crucial issue of the environment. As the planet burns, the CAQ today presents a new version of its third link project that will encourage urban sprawl.
Without deciding too quickly on the project, Bruno Marchand is worried.
Everything we are going to do that will promote urban sprawl will move us away from our GHG reduction targets.
Bruno Marchand, Mayor of Quebec
To counter the problem, he advocates an enlargement of the urban perimeter to prevent more remote municipalities from developing aggressively in order to increase their tax revenues. A new tax pact could be negotiated
“Our alliances must go beyond our individual interests,” argues Bruno Marchand.
Indeed, cities have every advantage in adjusting their flutes to better represent the interests of Quebecers who increasingly live in urban areas. A reality that the CAQ sometimes seems to forget.