Georges Bossé (born November 5, 1943) is a retired politician in the Canadian province of Quebec. He was the mayor of Verdun from 1993 until its amalgamation into the city of Montreal in 2001 and subsequently served as a Montreal city councillor and member of the Montreal executive committee (i.e., the municipal cabinet).
Private life and early political career
Bossé owned a jewelry store in Verdun before entering political life and was at one time chair of the Verdun General Hospital.
He first ran for mayor of Verdun in the 1985 municipal election, in which he was narrowly defeated by former Liberal member of parliament Raymond Savard. During this campaign, Bossé promised to revitalize the city's shopping streets and increase its cultural activities without a significant tax hike; a report in the Montreal Gazette indicated that he spent the maximum amount of money permitted for the campaign, hired a public relations consultant, and had his supporters pack Verdun council meetings during the buildup to the vote. One of the key issues in this election was the proposed amalgamation of Verdun into Montreal, which both Bossé and Savard opposed. Bossé's Parti d'action municipale (Municipal Action Party) won six out of the twelve seats on council, but it did not remain united as a party after election; at least five of the party's councillors later joined Savard's rival Regroupement des citoyens de Verdun (Verdun Citizens' Movement).
A longtime member of the Quebec Liberal Party, Bossé planned to contest the 1989 provincial election under its banner for the Verdun electoral division. He was blocked by the party establishment, which selected Henri-François Gautrin as a parachute candidate in the seat.
Mayor of Verdun
Bossé ran for mayor of Verdun a second time in the 1993 municipal election and, on this occasion, defeated Savard by a significant margin. Eight sitting councillors joined his revitalized Parti d'action municipale in the buildup to the campaign, and the party won all thirteen council seats on election day. During this campaign, Bossé promised to reduce the tax rate, improve police protection, provide credits for housing renovation, and give Verdun a greater voice in the Montreal Urban Community (MUC).
As mayor, Bossé attempted to overturn Verdun's long-standing prohibition laws, in which customers were not permitted to order alcohol at public establishments without also ordering food. He was ultimately not successful; Verdun remained "dry" until 2010. He did, however, succeed in opening sidewalk spaces to restaurants, cafés, and some other vendors in 1994. On the level of administration, he established five new committees to oversee administration, urban development, the environment, public works, and recreation.
By virtue of serving as mayor of Verdun, Bossé automatically had a seat on the Montreal Urban Community. He was chosen as vice-chair of the Conference of Suburban Mayors not long after the election and was also named as head of the Intermunicipal Waste Management Board in December 1995.
Bossé was re-elected in the 1997 municipal election, defeating two independent candidates. On this occasion, the Parti d'action municipale fell to six seats in a reduced ten-member council; the other four seats were won by independents.
Bossé's second term in office was marked by conflict with the city's blue-collar workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 302. An acrimonious strike began on October 1, 1998, after the city attempted to reduce the number of municipal workers and introduce greater flexibility in job assignments. The labour dispute lasted for more than a year, during which time the city used its own management officials as strikebreakers. An agreement was finally reached to resolve the strike in February 2000.
In January 1998, Bossé succeeded Westmount mayor Peter Trent as head of the Conference of Suburban Mayors (later renamed as the Union of Suburban Mayors). In this capacity, Bossé introduced a plan to reform the MUC by giving more responsibility to the office of general manager while reducing the power of the chair. A editorial in the Gazette noted that this plan would have had the effect of weakening the MUC's powers, an outcome that the suburban mayors desired. The reforms were never approved, and the question became moot in light of subsequent events. In March 1998, Bossé was one of eleven MUC members to vote against Vera Danyluk's re-election as chair.
Following its re-election with a majority government in the 1998 Quebec provincial election, the Parti Québécois government of Lucien Bouchard announced plans to amalgamate the twenty-nine municipalities on Montreal Island. The province's initial plan was to create three new cities (representing the eastern, central, and western zones of the island), but this was later superseded by a plan to amalgamate the entire island into a single municipality. Bossé and other suburban mayors vocally opposed these plans, with Bossé on one occasion saying that mergers "were not, are not, and never will be the solution to the problems of the metropolitan region." Bossé later briefly offered support in principle for a plan, proposed by provincial advisor Louis Bernard, to create one city divided into twenty-seven boroughs. This notwithstanding, he ultimately opposed the government's final strategy for amalgamation (which included the creation of boroughs) and led a public protest against the merger in December 2000.
Despite the opposition of Bossé and others, the island of Montreal was amalgamated into a single municipality in 2001. There was some speculation that Bossé would run for mayor of the new city as a representative of suburban interests, though he ultimately declined to do so and was instead among the first elected officials to support the campaign of Gérald Tremblay.
Bossé was one of three Montreal-area elected officials who served on Montréal International during this period, along with Montreal mayor Pierre Bourque and Dorval mayor Peter Yeomans. He continued to hold this position after amalgamation. In January 2001, he was appointed to the executive of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, a successor to the MUC.
Montreal city councillor
Bossé was elected to Montreal city council in the 2001 municipal election as a candidate of Tremblay's Montreal Island Citizens Union (MICU), leading the polls in the multi-member division of Verdun; the other two successful candidates were also MICU candidates. Across the city, Tremblay was elected mayor and MICU won a majority of seats on council. By virtue of his election to city council, Bossé also served on the newly created Verdun borough council and, following the election, he was selected as its inaugural chair (a position that was later restyled as borough mayor).
In November 2001, Tremblay appointed Bossé as a member of the Montreal executive committee with responsibility for economic development. During Montreal's first post-merger tax reassessment in 2003, he argued that the city should have more power to set variable tax rates. In late 2003, he co-hosted a gathering of Hollywood producers and studio executives in Montreal in a bid to promote the city's film industry.
Bossé was appointed in April 2003 to head a task force charged with decentralizing municipal services to Montreal's boroughs. Notwithstanding his previous opposition to amalgamation, he was by this time an opponent of de-merger efforts, saying that the context had fundamentally changed. It was reported later in the year that Bossé was among the executive members most strongly urging Tremblay to grant taxation rights and greater legal status to the boroughs.
Following a reshuffle of Tremblay's executive committee in January 2004, Bossé was named chair of a new committee on territorial development, cultural and heritage, with further responsibilities for special projects, para-municipal societies and downtown Montreal. He was given further responsibility for public security in August 2004, ceding responsibility for cultural and heritage at around the same time.
Bossé suggested in February 2005 that Montreal could swear in its metro agents as constables in order to give them the power to carry out arrests. The following month, he served on a committee that selected the largely unknown Yvon Delorme as Montreal's new chief of police. In October 2005, he completed negotiations that allowed volunteer firefighters who had lost their jobs as a result of amalgamation to join the Montreal fire department.
There were rumours in 2002 that the Action démocratique du Québec party had approached Bossé about running under its banner in the next provincial election. Bossé declined to comment. Ultimately, this candidacy did not occur. He did not seek re-election to city council in the 2005 election, in part because of lingering opposition to amalgamation among his electorate.
Soon after leaving city hall, Bossé became vice-president of DAA Strategies and, in this capacity, worked as an urban planning consultant for the company Devimco on a major development project in Griffintown. The timing of this arrangement was controversial, in light of Bossé's recent membership on the executive committee and Devimco's extensive business dealings with the city. He also served as president of a restoration committee for the Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs church.
Following the revelations of municipal corruption by the Charbonneau Commission that led to Tremblay's resignation as mayor in late 2012, Bossé questioned the need for Montreal to have municipal political parties.
|2001 Montreal municipal election: Councillor, Verdun (three members elected)|
|Citizens Union||Georges Bossé||11,415||19.42|
|Citizens Union||Laurent Dugas||9,001||15.31|
|Citizens Union||Claude Trudel||8,540||14.53|
|Vision Montreal||Danielle Paiement||7,593||12.92|
|Vision Montreal||Robert Isabelle||7,577||12.89|
|Vision Montreal||Micheline Senécal||7,377||12.55|
|White Elephant||Daniel Racicot||786||1.34|
|Total valid votes||58,773||100||–|
|Source: Election results, 1833-2005 (in French), City of Montreal.|
|1997 Verdun municipal election: Mayor of Verdun|
|Parti d'action municipale||Georges Bossé (incumbent)||9,735||67.89|
|Total valid votes||14,339||100||–|
|Source: "Results from races for mayor, council" Montreal Gazette, 3 November 1997, A6.|
|1993 Verdun municipal election: Mayor of Verdun|
|Parti d'action municipale||Georges Bossé||13,831||65.30|
|Regroupement des Citoyens de Verdun||Raymond Savard (incumbent)||5,550||26.20|
|S.O.S. Taxes Verdun||Edmond Vigneau||1,801||8.50|
|Total valid votes||21,182||100||–|
|Source: "Incumbents all re-elected in Montreal East voting," Montreal Gazette, 9 November 1993, A6.|
|1985 Verdun municipal election: Mayor of Verdun|
|Regroupement des Citoyens de Verdun||Raymond Savard||8,232||33.57|
|Parti d'action municipale||Georges Bossé||7,987||32.57|
|Parti de l'Unité de Verdun||Robert Liboiron||4,886||19.92|
|Parti contre l'annexion de Verdun||Maurice Trudeau||2,372||9.67|
|Parti civique de Verdun||Robert Mailhot||337||1.37|
|Total valid votes||24,522||100||–|
|Source: "Final results for Verdun, Hudson, Montreal East," Montreal Gazette, 5 November 1985, A6.|
- Sarah Scott, "Verdun Liberals quit as Bourassa picks candidate," Montreal Gazette, 18 August 1989, A4.
- Daniel Kucharsky, "Six fight for mayor's seat of much-coveted Verdun," Montreal Gazette, 31 October 1985, C5.
- Daniel Kucharsky, "Court fight looms as Verdun council OKs annexation," Montreal Gazette, 21 September 1985, A3; Harvey Shepherd, "Lefebvre leads his party to near sweep in Laval; Voters in Verdun rebuff annexation supporters," Montreal Gazette, 4 November 1985, A4.
- "Final results for Verdun, Hudson, Montreal East," Montreal Gazette, 5 November 1985, A6.
- Sarah Scott, "Verdun Liberals quit as Bourassa picks candidate," Montreal Gazette, 18 August 1989, A4.
- "Incumbents all re-elected in Montreal East voting," Montreal Gazette, 9 November 1993, A6. An extra council seat had been added since 1985.
- James Mennie, "Mayoral hopefuls want city to stress fiscal fitness," Montreal Gazette, 5 November 1993, A7.
- Irwin Block, "Verdun's ban on bars will be put to a vote in spring, mayor says," Montreal Gazette, 9 December 1993, A3.
- "Verdun opens sidewalks to business," Montreal Gazette, 23 April 1994, A3; Irwin Block, "Verdun takes first step to allow bars, taverns," Montreal Gazette, 10 February 1995; Andre Picard, "Prohibition may finally end in Verdun," Globe and Mail, 27 June 1995, A7.
- Susan Semenak, "`Not a city of rich people'; Critics blast raises for Verdun city councillors," Montreal Gazette, 28 April 1994, A3.
- "Leduc steps down as waste-board chief," Montreal Gazette, 8 December 1995, E7.
- Irwin Block, "No end to strike in sight," Montreal Gazette, 13 May 1999, A6; Irwin Block, "Blue-collar strike heads into 2nd year," Montreal Gazette, 28 September 1999, A6.
- Charlie Fidelman, "Finally back on the job," Montreal Gazette, 29 February 2000, A6.
- "Bosse heads CSM," Montreal Gazette, 1 February 1998, A4.
- Aaron Derfel, "Bourque rejects plan to reform MUC," Montreal Gazette, 6 February 1998, A3; Darren Becker, "Suburban mayors say they've 'unionized'," Montreal Gazette, 13 December 1998, A3.
- Henry Aubin, "A platform worth saving: Montreal area would benefit from some of MCM candidate's ideas" [editorial], Montreal Gazette, 18 March 1998, B3.
- Michelle Lalonde, "Danyluk survives vote: New four-year term as MUC chairman ends months of bitter debate," Montreal Gazette, 16 April 1998, A1.
- Michael Mainville, "We'll look at merger, Harel says: Cities warn they'll fight," Montreal Gazette, 27 March 1999, A3. See also Michael Mainville, "Mayor wants all for one: But burbs vow `fight to finish' over Bourque's megacity plan," Montreal Gazette, 27 May 1999, A1.
- Irwin Block, "Suburban mayors aren't all on same page," Montreal Gazette, 13 October 2000, A5.
- Michael Mainville and Monique Beaudin; Charlie Fidelman and Darren Becker, "Huge No to megacities: Premier must heed our call, protesters say," Montreal Gazette, 11 December 2000, A1.
- Linda Gyulai, "Warmup for mayoral matchup," Montreal Gazette, 17 October 2000, A3; Linda Gyulai, "No clear challenger to Bourque: Bosse weighing run for mayoralty," Montreal Gazette, 3 February 2001, A1.
- Mike Boone, "The new, gray mayoral candidate," Montreal Gazette, 28 February 2001, A2. Tremblay later said that it was Bossé who approached him to run for mayor. See Monique Muise, "Gérald Tremblay at the Charbonneau Commission: Tremblay tried to report extortion case in 2006," Postmedia Breaking News, 25 April 2013.
- Harvey Shepherd, "Danyluk slams deal with Montreal International," Montreal Gazette, 28 September 1999, A6.
- "Five named to metropolitan executive panel," Montreal Gazette, 19 January 2001, A4.
- Linda Gyulai, "Property valuation to soar: Blame red-hot real estate market as house prices leap," Montreal Gazette, 16 July 2003, A1.
- Monique Beaudoin, "Tremblay selects megacity cabinet: Mayor-elect gives nod to early allies, council veterans," Montreal Gazette, 20 November 2001, A4.
- Linda Gyulai, "Property valuation to soar: Blame red-hot real estate market as house prices leap," Montreal Gazette, 16 July 2013, A1.
- Mary Lamey, "U.S. film producers blast Quebec group," Ottawa Citizen, 19 November 2003, D3.
- Linda Gyulai, "City mulls one island, one city model," Montreal Gazette, 26 April 2003, A7.
- Linda Gyulai, "Tremblay caucus facing crisis," Montreal Gazette, 18 August 2003, A1.
- Linda Gyulai, "Mayor plays the suburb card," Montreal Gazette, 26 January 2005.
- Linda Gyulai, "Green space could go," Montreal Gazette, 24 August 2004, A7.
- See Ann Carroll, "Church graveyard rediscovered," Montreal Gazette, 15 October 2004, A7; and Linda Gyulai, "Contenders for mayor's right hand are close by his side," Montreal Gazette, 21 May 2008, A3. Both sources indicate that Francine Senécal assumed responsibility for cultural and heritage in 2004. It is not clear if Bossé continued to hold responsibility for territorial development after this time.
- "Georges Bosse, the director in charge of transport for the city, acknowledged the metro agents lack policing powers, leaving crime victims to file their own police report," Canadian Press Newswire, 7 February 2005; Paul Cherry, "New policing measures in metro coming down the line, officials say," Montreal Gazette, 8 February 2005, A8.
- Linda Gyulai, "Unknown picked as new top cop: Yvan Delorme Choice surprises leading activist," Montreal Gazette, 22 March 2005, A1.
- Alycia Ambroziak, "Volunteer firefighters reach deal," Montreal Gazette, 6 October 2005, A1.
- "Bosse coy about ADQ overtures," Montreal Gazette, 31 August 2002, A14.
- David Johnston, "New 'two solitudes' emerge," Montreal Gazette, 15 October 2005, A7.
- Henry Aubin, "Let's tread carefully on Griffintown" [editorial], Montreal Gazette, 17 January 2008, A19; Jason Magder, "Not so fast, Griffintowners say; Mega-project. Residents, builders to trade plans at public meetings," Montreal Gazette, 7 February 2008, A3; Henry Aubin, "Zampino's new job with contractor raises eyebrows; It is part of a pattern of unusual job opportunities for former public officials," Montreal Gazette, 13 January 2009, A11.
- Henry Aubin, "Blind to sleaze; Tremblay paints himself as the great city hall crime fighter, but his record shows something different" [editorial], Montreal Gazette, 17 September 2009, A21.
- Kate Sheridan, "Verdun church's bells may soon ring again; Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs undergoing $6M renovation project," Montreal Gazette, 5 August 2015, A6.
- Henry Aubin, "Why the party system has to go; Here's hoping the rise of independents at city hall is the start of a long-term trend," Montreal Gazette, 4 December 2012, A2.