20 June 2011

'Municipal parties are breeding grounds for sleaze"

The megacity gave political parties more power and fuelled need for money

To understand the rise in sleaze in Montreal politics, you have to understand the simultaneous rise in the role of political parties. The two are intimately related, and you can thank Louise Harel's megacity for that.

It is no coincidence that the importance of parties has boomed since the merger of Montreal Island.

In 2000, Harel, then the Parti Québécois's municipal affairs minister, commissioned PQ wiseman Louis Bernard to study the future merger. His report not only predicted the spread of parties into parts of the island that had never had them but hailed this as a good thing: "The presence of political-party structures across Montreal Island," he wrote, "is an essential element (of the merger) that will invigorate the functioning and evolution of the new structures." Harel approved. Her merger plan became law two months later.

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