The Impact of Language Differences on Metropolitan Reform in Montreal

Type of resource
The Impact of Language Differences on Metropolitan Reform in Montreal
The author outlines how Montreal's linguistic make-up made the process of metropolitan reform unusually difficult in the 1970s. The municipal system of the Island of Montreal was shaped in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during which time the City of Montreal annexed many poor Francophone municipalities and wealthier Anglophones established their own municipalities in the west of the island. The author points out that this arrangement was not threatened until the Drapeau-Saulnier annexation efforts of the early 1960s. Lacking provincial support, the efforts failed. The Montreal Urban Community was created in 1969 as a direct result of a disastrous police strike. The author argues that the main purpose of the MUC was to divert financial resources from the suburbs to the City in order to help cover increased police costs. The pooling of these costs inevitably led to the creation of a unified MUC police department, but the unification process was much more controversial than it had been in Toronto and Winnipeg. He further argues that in other fields the suburbs used their veto power to prevent any significant new initiatives. As a result, provincial control of urban development in Montreal by the late 1970s was rapidly increasing. Although there were many serious proposals for municipal consolidation in Montreal, no boundary changes had been made at the time the author published this article. He believed that such changes would involve great political difficulty because they would create new linguistic majorities and minorities in each new municipality. Furthermore, he argues that the unusually strong alliance that binds Francophone and Anglophone suburbs made it extremely difficult for any Quebec government to modify the then existing situation. However, on January 1, 2002, all the municipalities on the island of Montreal were merged into a single city, but following a change of government in the 2003 Quebec election and a 2004 referendum, some of those municipalities became independent cities again on January 1, 2006. A new municipal structure, an urban agglomeration, was imposed as part of the de-merger process, which meant that de-merged suburbs continue to be tied to the City of Montreal for provision of certain municipal services within the urban agglomeration of Montreal.
Canadian Public Administration/Administration publique du Canada
Vol. 22
no. 2
June 1979
Sancton, Andrew. “The Impact of Language Differences on Metropolitan Reform in Montreal.” Canadian Public Administration/Administration publique du Canada Vol. 22, no. 2 (June 1979): 227–250.
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