The mayor of Villeray─Saint-Michel─Parc-Extension, Giuliana Fumagalli, and Sue Montgomery, mayor of Côte-des-Neiges─Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, held a joint press conference this morning in front of City Hall to reiterate the importance of local parties that are rooted in their neighbourhoods and are independent of the major parties.
“Our boroughs are both the largest and most populous on the island of Montreal, yet they receive less funding per resident than all other boroughs. This historical underfunding must be corrected, especially since our neighbourhoods are among the poorest and most marginalized in Montreal,” declared Mayor Montgomery.
Mayor Fumagalli notes that there is also a democratic deficit in these two boroughs. “Why does Outremont have five elected officials for a population of 24,000 people, whereas we have a population of 144,000 in Villeray─Saint-Michel─Parc-Extension for the same number of representatives? Something’s not right.” For her part, Mayor Montgomery is proposing to split her borough in two in order to better address the distinct realities of Côte-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
The two mayors suggest local parties like theirs ─ Courage─Équipe Sue Montgomery and Quartiers Montréal ─ can bring power back to the local level. “Local parties are closer to the ground and to the people,” said Mayor Fumagalli. “I cycle in my borough almost every day, talking to residents, so I understand their concerns. My independence from City Hall allows me to fight for them and to leverage my power in their interest.”
There is no shortage of examples in which the mayor’s independence has paid off. When the elected officials of Projet Montreal refused to get a commitment from the NDG YMCA to stay in the borough, Mayor Montgomery was able to negotiate a promise of at least seven more years from this community icon. Mayor Fumagalli defended the social development of the Francon Quarry, as demanded for years by the people of Saint-Michel. She stood up to the elected officials of Projet Montreal and Ensemble Montréal who wanted to build a sorting facility there as well as a municipal garage. Mayor Fumagalli ultimately won.
“With a local party, I can spend more time meeting residents, listening to their issues, and working with them to find solutions,” said Mayor Montgomery. “Accessibility to politicians is key in ensuring residents participate in municipal life, and we know that when there is more citizen involvement, democracy wins. We believe that this is the role of a borough mayor.”
The race between Ensemble Montréal and Projet Montréal is very close, which will likely result in a minority government at City Hall. This is an ideal situation for a local party, as it will be difficult for the administration in power to legislate without the support of independent votes. “We will make sure that the interests of our residents are taken into account because that’s the whole point of our borough parties,” said Mayor Montgomery. “Our two parties are ready to work and stand together because our challenges are similar: systemic discrimination, housing, jobs, green spaces, cultural and social centers, and mobility.”
Outgoing Projet Montreal councillor Christine Gosselin fully endorses both candidates. “As a city councillor, I have had the pleasure of working with both Sue and Giuliana over the past four years. I have seen how their close community ties have served their residents, and most importantly how their political independence has allowed them to defend their local interests without restraints. I support the idea of local parties in general and Giuliana and Sue in particular.”