Against Bill 19:
The city’s voters have the right to fair representation
Montréal, October 24, 2011 – While the National Assembly considers voting on Bill 19, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal would like to reiterate its opposition to institutionalizing the under-representation of the Montréal area in Quebec politics. “We are asking elected officials to defeat Bill 19 out of respect for the Greater Montréal area and its voters and to avoid setting a dangerous precedent for our democratic process,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
“We need to stop equivocating about a principle as fundamental as universal equality in a democracy,” Mr. Leblanc said. “The metropolitan area represents over 50% of the population of Quebec, yet it has only 54 of the 125 ridings, or 42%. This is unacceptable and disrespectful to the city’s residents and taxpayers. Bill 19 does not resolve the situation. The reasonable, fair solution is to create three new ridings in the metropolitan area, where the population has grown, and to eliminate three ridings no longer justified by demography.”
Bill 19 proposes adding three new ridings to the current 125. “The Legislative Assembly of Ontario has 107 elected officials for a population that is 50% greater than the population of Quebec,” Mr. Leblanc said. “The National Assembly already has sufficient members. Historically, the Island of Montréal lost ridings to reflect population shifts; why flout this rule now?”
As part of its efforts on the issue, the Board of Trade sought the opinion of Stéphane Beaulac, a constitutional law expert and professor at Université de Montréal’s faculty of Law. In his opinion paper, Dr. Beaulac explains that some of the reform initiatives that are on the table would constitute “violations of the constitutional guarantees of democratic rights.”
“The debate on redrawing the map leads to the same conclusion time and again: the government is not meeting the city’s needs,” Mr. Leblanc said. “If it were to become law, Bill 19 would be a denial of electoral justice. We assume that all members from the metropolitan area, no matter what their party affiliation, will feel strongly about defending the voters’ right to fair democratic representation. It’s their duty.”
To read Dr. Beaulac’s opinion paper or for more information, visit www.inegale.info.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has some 7,000 members. Its primary mission is to represent the interests of the business community of Greater Montreal and to provide individuals, merchants, and businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Quebec’s leading private economic development organization.
Advisor, Media Relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: 514 871-4000, ext. 4015