Balarama Holness election quebec Montreal

Photo by Stefano Nichele

Balarama Holness: Here’s why this election is so important

“Don’t let the boomers from the burbs and les régions tell us how we should live in Montreal.”

Why Bloc Montréal, and why now? Perhaps the better question is why do we all love Montreal? 

Sure, we are a city of festivals and there is almost always something exciting happening here. We can travel around the world by taking a Bixi or hopping on the metro, experience different cultures and find every type of food imaginable. This is not surprising as more than a third of the city’s population is made up of visible minorities ranging from South Asian to Latin American to Korean, not to mention the earlier waves of Jewish, Italian, Greek or Portuguese immigrants. Bonjour-Hi, French, English, and Franglais along with the flavours of other languages not only define the linguistic character of Montreal but are key factors in making it so special. 

Montreal is the perfect representation of Canada’s multiculturalism that just works. Bloc Montréal’s electoral campaign slogan, “United for our city,” reflects the day-to-day reality of francophones, anglophones and allophones living, working and playing in harmony. Montreal is like an old t-shirt. A bit worn out, with a few stains, ripped at the seams, yet so comfortable. This is because, as Montrealers, we share common values of compassion, social justice, mutual respect, openness and tolerance. 

We are the cultural and economic engine of the province, but recent policies have affected Montreal and Montrealers in a disproportionate and negative way. Bloc Montréal was created to defend and strengthen, at the National Assembly, the unique status, needs and aspirations of our cosmopolitan city. We will better represent Montrealers and we will advocate for greater fiscal, cultural and political autonomy for Montreal. This will include a share of the Quebec Sales Tax from sales and services provided in the Montreal region to remain in Montreal (around $2-billion annually) as well as a $5 daily congestion fee on non-resident vehicles entering the island. 

These new sources of revenue will be used to repair and improve our aging infrastructure, support use and expansion of public transit, finance free public transit service during rush hours, build affordable housing, new sport facilities, after school programs, parks and green spaces. We will fight on your behalf to make Montreal carbon neutral by 2040, to depoliticize the immigration policy, to repeal Bills 21, 32, 40 and 96 as fundamentally undemocratic and anti-Montreal, to get the expansion of Dawson College back on track, to implement much tighter regulation of Airbnb and similar short-term rentals (providing as many as 10,000 additional housing units) as well as to implement Rent Register to ease the housing crisis.

We are fed up with our paternalistic and hypocritical politicians, we are fed up with policies that tell us that it is more important what we wear on our heads than what’s inside them. We are fed up with pre-emptively invoking the notwithstanding clause to limit our rights and freedoms. We are fed up and we are not going to take it anymore.

Montreal needs greater control over its destiny, over new sources of revenue and over economic, linguistic and cultural policies. It’s time to recognize that bilingualism is not a handicap but an asset. On Oct. 3, go and vote. Better still, vote for Bloc Montréal. Don’t let the boomers from the burbs and les regions tell us how we should live in Montreal.

This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue of Cult MTL. 

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