Parti des Montréalais

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The Parti des Montréalais (English: Montrealers' Party) was a municipal political party in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It existed from 1993 to 1995 and won two council seats in the 1994 municipal election.

Origins[edit]

Former provincial cabinet minister Jérôme Choquette launched the Parti des Montréalais after resigning from the Civic Party of Montreal in October 1993. Choquette had been a candidate for the Civic Party leadership, but withdrew from the contest charging that it was skewed in favour of rival candidate Clement Bluteau. As the Parti des Montréalais's leader, Choquette was also its candidate for mayor in 1994.[1]

Two other parties merged into the Parti des Montréalais before the 1994 election. Bluteau won the Civic Party leadership after Choquette's withdrawal but himself resigned the following year amid continued inter-party turmoil. Unable to find a successor, the remnants of the Civic Party merged into Choquette's organization in August 1994.[2] The Parti des Montréalais also received outside support from veteran councillor Nick Auf der Maur, who ran as an independent but supported Choquette's bid for the mayoralty.[3]

Three sitting councillors, Pasquale Compierchio, Gérard Legault, and Fiorino Bianco, joined the Parti des Montréalais in the buildup to the 1994 election.[4]

Ideology[edit]

When he launched the Parti des Montréalais, Choquette pledged to eliminate Montreal's non-residential surtax and replace it with a business tax. When the party announced its first nominated candidates for council in March 1994, the two most prominent figures were veterans of a local anti-tax campaign.[5] Choquette also indicated that his party would encourage more English and French bilingual signs to encourage tourism and prevent anglophones from leaving the city.[6] In May 1994, he proposed eliminating the unelected position of city manager on the grounds that the office was too powerful.[7]

Choquette promised in June 1994 that he would support car ownership if elected as mayor. Describing the car as "a means for man to manifest his freedom," he said that Montrealers had heard too many warnings about air pollution, traffic congestion, and the advantages of alternative transportation. He promised to remove existing bicycle lanes from major streets, reduce parking fines, increase the number of downtown parking lots, permit on-street downtown parking on weekends and evenings, and eliminate some reserved bus routes that he believed would "hurt commercial activity and cause traffic problems."[8] A subsequent Montreal Gazette editorial described Choquette's proposals as "madness" and argued they would "downgrade the quality of life in neighborhoods," while incumbent mayor Jean Doré described Choquette's plan as "a philosophy of the '60s."[9] Choquette responded with letter to the Gazette, in which he argued that he was not opposed in principle to bicycle lanes and would attempt to better integrate the city's automobile and bicycle traffic on "appropriate streets."[10]

Choquette also promised to close Montreal's Miron quarry landfill and, as a short-term solution to the city's trash problems, ship its garbage to "outlying areas." He criticized the recommendations of a Montreal Urban Community task force on this issue as overly focused on a "three R's" strategy of reduction, reuse, and recycling.[11]

In September 1994, Choquette promised to remove $600 million from Montreal's budget by cutting jobs and salaries, eliminating public consultation forums, and possibly adding toll booths to the island's bridges.[12] At a subsequent press conference, he promised a 10 per cent pay cut for all councillors. On the latter occasion, he described himself as influenced by Ralph Klein's government in Alberta.[13]

While the Parti des Montréalais was generally regarded as right-wing,[14] it included in its ranks some progressives such as Jeremy Searle.[15] The party's platform included some progressive social measures, such as a proposal to allow low-income tenants to purchase their apartments as co-operatives.[16]

1994 election results[edit]

Choquette finished a distant third in the 1994 mayoral contest, receiving about 13% of the popular vote. All three of Parti des Montréalais's incumbent councillors were defeated, while only two party candidates were elected: Searle in the Loyola division and Michael Applebaum in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. When the news of his party's defeat was reported, Choquette remarked that voters "preferred a dream to reality."[17]

Aftermath[edit]

Searle and Applebaum resigned from the party to sit as independents on April 3, 1995; Searle indicated that both he and Applebaum had been excluded from party planning.[18] Choquette pledged later in the same month that he would continue to lead the debt-ridden party, but, on May 9, 1995, he formally asked Quebec's chief election official to dissolve the organization.[19] One of party's candidates, Frank Venneri, remarked at around this time that questionable financial strategies had doomed it from the beginning.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elizabeth Thompson, "Choquette bolts from troubled Civic Party; Former Outremont mayor follows Gagnier, Auf der Maur out door," Montreal Gazette, 13 October 1993, A3.
  2. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "Civic Party planning to team up with Choquette," Montreal Gazette, 29 July 1994, A3; Graeme Hamilton, "Tattered remnant of party founded by Drapeau dies Monday," Montreal Gazette, 6 August 1994, A3.
  3. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "New candidates for Choquette; Ten ex-members of defunct Action Montreal Party join municipal-election team of mayoral hopeful," Montreal Gazette, 24 August 1994, A3.
  4. ^ Irwin Block, "It was lights out for Montrealers' Party; Victory in N.D.G. council race is only bright spot for Choquette's group," Montreal Gazette, 7 November 1994, A4.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Thompson, "Meet the candidates," Montreal Gazette, 24 March 1994, A3.
  6. ^ Jennifer Ditchburn, "Bilingual signs would stop exodus: Choquette," Montreal Gazette, 25 November 1993, A8; Michelle Lalonde, "Choquette soliciting anglophone support for his mayoral bid," Montreal Gazette, 11 May 1994, A3.
  7. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "City manager to make $140,000 a year; Salary is more than civil servant was paid while working for MUC," Montreal Gazette, 11 May 1994, A6.
  8. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "Choquette unveils pro-automobile policy; Mayoral hopeful wants to dismantle bike paths, build parking lots," Montreal Gazette, 16 June 1994, A3.
  9. ^ "The shocking Mr. Choquette; Mayoral candidate's plans for more cars is madness" [editorial], Montreal Gazette, 17 June 1994, B2; Michelle Lalonde, "Sports complex to open in 1996; Cote des Neiges gets $12- million centre," Montreal Gazette, 17 June 1994, A3.
  10. ^ Jérôme Choquette, "Mayoral hopeful aims to help cyclists, motorists," Montreal Gazette, 26 June 1994, B3.
  11. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "I'll shut Miron and ship trash to rural sites: Choquette," Montreal Gazette, 27 July 1994, A3.
  12. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "I could cut taxes by $600 million: Choquette," Montreal Gazette, 2 September 1994, A3.
  13. ^ Ingrid Peritz, "Choquette plans `draconian' spending cuts," Montreal Gazette, 28 September 1994, A3.
  14. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "Forget C-word, it's time to think local," Montreal Gazette, 24 September 1994, A1.
  15. ^ "Searle to run for Montrealers' Party," Montreal Gazette, 7 April 1994, A3.
  16. ^ Henry Aubin, "Old war-horse Choquette emerges from the pack," Montreal Gazette, 4 October 1994, B3. For more details on the party's platform, see Michelle Lalonde, "Where the Parties Stand; A look at the major issues at stake in tomorrow's municipal election; Jerome Choquette Montrealers' Party," Montreal Gazette, 5 November 1994, B2.
  17. ^ Irwin Block, "It was lights out for Montrealers' Party; Victory in N.D.G. council race is only bright spot for Choquette's group," Montreal Gazette, 7 November 1994, A4.
  18. ^ "Applebaum, Searle to sit as independent city councillors," Montreal Gazette, 4 April 1995, A3.
  19. ^ Michelle Lalonde, "`Absent-minded' voters to blame for demise of my team: Choquette," Montreal Gazette, 10 May 1995, A3.
  20. ^ Monique Beaudin and Helena Katz, "Choquette party may pull plug on itself," Montreal Gazette, 19 April 1995, A1.