The Gazette: Rebuilding the city’s image

I was interviewed by The Gazette’s Peggy Curran this week for an article about leadership in Montreal, and the upcoming municipal election. Here is the link to that article published today:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Rebuilding+city+image/8336170/story.html

And here are all the excerpts where I am quoted:

“Strength of character, willingness to exert leadership,” said Martin Bergeron of Réflexion Montréal, a think tank he set up with urban analysts last fall. He said tackling corruption and collusion must be Job 1.

“If we don’t deal with that, we don’t get the trust of citizens. How do you move on with spending on projects if people think you are giving money to crooks?”

Martin Bergeron is a policy analyst who left the Montreal Board of Trade to set up Réflexion Montréal. At 43, with a master’s in public policy from Concordia University, he’s a self-proclaimed “policy wonk,” bursting with ideas about what Montreal needs. Things like restructuring city government and boroughs, wrestling with employee pension funds and finding innovative ways to keep young families in the city without turning the metropolis into a suburb.

“It’s not going to be about cutting ribbons and throwing a Christmas ball. It’s going to be a thankless job.”

Bergeron doesn’t hide the fact that he’d also like to run for municipal office, sooner rather than later, ideally alongside a candidate whose political philosophy coincides with his. For the moment, he’s still waiting to figure out who that person might be.

“Louise Harel cannot be the mayor of Montreal,” said Bergeron, who sees her role as Parti Québécois minister for municipal affairs during the forced merger of Montreal and its suburbs as just one factor destined to keep her out of the mayor’s chair.

“The irony is she is the architect of the new city, but she cannot be mayor,” Bergeron said, citing the 71-year-old Harel’s weak English skills and staunch sovereignist beliefs. “The last thing we need is a divisive mayor that can strongly represent one part of the population, but be polarizing to the other ones.”

His namesake, Projet Montréal’s Richard Bergeron, “has some good ideas, but he’s not a realistic politician.” He mentioned the Projet Montréal leader’s position on a proposed 37-kilometre tramway, which he said his administration would build over five years with help from private backers.

As someone who worked on a tram study during his years at the Board of Trade, Bergeron said the claim is unrealistic. “He could knock on all the doors he wants. It would not work. He tends to do that with a lot of projects. They make sense in his mind.”

Of Coderre, “he has at least one thing going for him: he wants the job!” Bergeron said. “Other than that, we know so little about what he intends to do that it is hard to judge. I guess we will have to wait to see.”

Bergeron sees previous political experience as an asset, but not a prerequisite. “Michael Bloomberg, for example, had never done politics before. Yet he is a great and strong leader for New York and no one would dare not listen to him.”

For Bergeron, it’s imperative that the next mayor find a way to push harder for Montreal’s concerns, which are often ignored by federal and provincial governments that don’t see political gains in a region where voting patterns have been fairly predictable.

“We are a city of 1.9 million people and sometimes it feels like our priorities are treated not as important as Laval or Quebec City,” Bergeron said. “It’s not enough to send a wish list and then wait for results.”

Still, Bergeron said the next mayor won’t have any clout — in Ottawa, Quebec or with Montreal residents — until people believe he or she is serious about cleaning up the city’s act.

“You’d like to think we wouldn’t have to say: ‘We need elected officials that have ethics.’

Duh. That ought to be a prerequisite and you don’t even have to discuss it. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. If we don’t get the trust of the population, we cannot go forward with major reforms.”

Une grande mobilisation pour la cause de Montréal

Je reproduis ici le texte publié hier sur le blogue de François Cardinal de La Presse:

http://blogues.lapresse.ca/avenirmtl/2013/04/29/martin-bergeron-«une-grande-mobilisation-pour-montreal»/

Face à l’ampleur des défis à relever au cours des prochaines années, Montréal a besoin d’un Maire et d’une équipe de conseillers capables de créer une grande mobilisation pour sa cause. Pour réussir cette mobilisation, il nous faut un groupe de leaders qui saura à la fois inspirer la population, et projeter davantage d’autorité auprès des gouvernements du Québec et du Canada.

Nous identifions six grands défis qui devront être relevés en priorité au cours des prochaines années si nous voulons que Montréal se construise un avenir à la hauteur de son potentiel :

1-    Combattre énergiquement la corruption pour regagner la confiance des citoyens;

2-    Simplifier la gouvernance de la ville pour améliorer sa performance et accélérer le passage à l’action;

3-    Assainir les finances publiques pour livrer des services efficaces et tenir compte de la capacité de payer des montréalais;

4-    Augmenter notre poids démographique en retenant plus de familles en ville;

5-    Décongestionner la métropole en investissant massivement dans le transport en commun;

6-    Développer notre économie en misant sur nos Universités, nos industries créatives, la relance du secteur manufacturier et le commerce de proximité.

Pour réussir ce vaste chantier, il va falloir que Montréal recommence à compter au gouvernement fédéral, et que les partis provinciaux cessent de voir la métropole du Québec comme un « champ de bataille politique »  où il n’y a aucun gain à faire. Nos élus municipaux sont toutefois les premiers concernés et nous avons besoin d’un Conseil de ville proactif,  qui agit avec force et cohérence afin de stimuler l’intérêt pour Montréal.

Si je fais appel à cette mobilisation, c’est parce que j’aime Montréal et que je crois que la prochaine élection municipale pourrait être déterminante pour l’avenir de notre ville. À quatre ans des fêtes du 375e anniversaire de sa fondation, et au moment où se conclut le dernier chapitre de la première administration de la nouvelle ville, Montréal est à la croisée des chemins.

Saurons-nous collectivement saisir cette occasion qui se présente pour remettre Montréal sur le droit chemin et redonner de la fierté aux montréalais? C’est pour ça que je m’engage pour la cause de Montréal.