NEWS

Montreal politicians debate city council size — again

05/20/2013 04:44 EDT | Updated 07/20/2013 05:12 EDT
A proposal put forward by Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault to reduce the number of city councillors as a way of dealing with municipal corruption is being met with caution.

Legault first floated the idea last year during the provincial election campaign.

He said Montreal is ungovernable, and the solution is to cut the size of city council. Under his scenario, the number of boroughs would be reduced by 40 per cent.

Concordia University political science professor Harold Chorney said Legault’s idea may be worth studying, but it doesn’t get to the root of Montreal’s problem.

“You need high-calibre people seeking office in the city,” he said.

“If you get high-calibre people, they’re not going to do this, because it’s ethically repugnant.”

Westmount mayor Peter Trent said he can see merit in some of what Legault is proposing.

“I do agree with reducing the number of councillors on the council; I don’t think, however, that they should reduce the number of boroughs,” Trent said.

City councillor for Snowdon Marvin Rotrand disagreed with Legault’s proposal.

“We’ve already had this debate three times, in 2001, 2005 and 2009, and the voters said three times we don’t want to have this debate, it’s not too large,” Rotrand said.

“It depends on your philosophy. Do you want the American model of small councils or do you want the European model of large councils, far larger than Montreal is?” he continued.

He said that the main difference between Montreal and a city like Toronto, which has a smaller city council, is that citizens can actually reach their city councillor.

He said smaller councils tend to result in lower rates of participation in the democratic process, resulting in fewer votes come municipal election time.

“In Montreal, you can actually reach your councillor,” he said.

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