Demerger buzz

06.18.03

Demergers are the hot topic everyone hates to discuss lately. After the PQ undemocratically forced through mergers of our municipalities, the new Charest government appears to be making good on its election promise to table legislation that will allow the whole fiasco to be undone.

To those of us who were royally pissed off at losing our cities, this should be welcome news. To the people with the “Je me souviens des fusions forcées” license plates, and to those who picketed in Dominion Square, it seems we were just waiting for the time when someone would recognize what a disaster the mergers were and allow us to undo it.

But, as Don MacPherson explains in today’s Gazette, it’s not that simple:

You can’t go home anymore. Not if your home was one of the 212 municipalities forcibly merged into 42 by the former Parti Québécois government three years ago.

Sure, you’ll be able to get back a town with the same name and boundaries as the one you had before it was annexed by Montreal or one of the other new megacities across the province.

But it won’t be quite the same. The Charest government’s demerger legislation, the second part of which was introduced yesterday in the National Assembly, doesn’t flip the calendar pages back to November 2000, before your town was reduced to the status of a borough.

For one thing, it might lose the official bilingual status it had then – and still has now.

[ . . . ]

But wait, there’s more. If you take advantage of the Liberals’ demerger offer, you might also get higher taxes than you paid before, with less say in how the money is spent and maybe less service.

Looks like my hopes of being a Dollardian again are problematic indeed.

The merger was supposed to lower taxes. It raised them. It was supposed to increase services. It reduced them. It was supposed to make Montreal better able to compete internationally for investment and development. This remained unchanged.

So if merging was a disaster, and demerging would be another disaster, then why didn’t they just leave our cities alone in the first place?

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