Coderre would request amendments to Bill 96, keeping city services bilingual

If elected mayor, he would speak to the province to ensure Montreal residents can access essential services “regardless of the language they speak.”

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A re-elected Denis Coderre would demand that the province amend Bill 96 to include protection for the city’s English-speaking minority community, the mayoral challenger said Monday.

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In an extensive discussion with the Montreal Gazette’s editorial staff, Coderre, who was fighting to oust Valérie Plante at this weekend’s election, said he agreed with the open letter signed last month by 96 prominent English speakers. It called on Quebec Premier François Legault to drop the term “historic English-speakers” from Bill 96 because restricting English services to only those eligible to attend English-language schools – as proposed in the law to amend the French-language charter – would cut out between 300,000 and 500,000 English phones.

“My role (as mayor) is as a service provider,” Coderre said in a video conference interview, explaining that the city will continue to provide essential services to people who need them, no matter what language they speak. He promised to keep the city’s 311 information line services bilingual and seek an exemption from the law to do so.

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“We want to not only have in English and French, we want to make sure we can speak Creole and Italian,” he said. “If people call for these services, they will receive them.”

Coderre said he would sit down with Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the French language, to request changes to the bill.

“For the sake of (English) society, which says we need to change that definition, I would be ready to do so.”

Coderre also focused on other main topics during the conversation. Here are a few of the highlights:

Environment

The city would become CO2-neutral by 2045. Coderre also promised to continue work on creating the Grand Parc de l’Ouest, which was started by Plante. His platform requires that 10 percent of the urban area’s land area be dedicated to green areas.

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Coderre criticized Plante for not getting the most out of the money dedicated to decontaminating lands in the city. He said the city needs to use such funds to improve the environment and build the city’s economy as well as solve its housing crisis.

“We had $ 100 million and we spent just $ 8 million,” he said. “There are many lands we can regain by doing so, and then we can create good housing projects. I want to create a green Silicon Valley in eastern Montreal. “

Transit

Coderre said he would ensure the city has a greater voice in terms of transit planning. As president of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, the mayor of the Montreal Supervisory Authority oversees the Metropolitan Transportation Department, which handles long-term transit planning. The City Council of Montreal also votes on the budget of the Société de transport de Montreal.

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However, the city has failed to curb spending at the STM level and the transit authority is now facing a shortfall in its forthcoming budget. In terms of planning future transit projects, he tasked Plante with not pushing hard enough for the long-awaited Blue Line expansion, saying she was more focused on her proposed Pink Line.

“The blue line? The problem is that maybe they were looking for a different color and they left it,” he said.

He added that the city will have a place at the table in the planning of the future REM de l’Est, which has been the subject of some criticism from those who fear it will create a scar on the urban landscape.

Police

The city’s police budget would get a boost, and the force would go on an immediate round of hiring under a Coderre administration to fill vacancies and add another 250 officers. He blasted his opponent for leaving the posts of about 85 officers who retired or resigned, unemployed, saying it was a form of defundering by police. Contrary to Project Montréal and Balarama Holness’s Movement Montreal, he said he would dedicate more funds to the police force to crack down on violent crime, help those living on the edge and work on prevention techniques to cut down on homicide and intimate partner violence. . He also promised to help the force update its equipment, equip officers with body cameras and add surveillance cameras to public spaces.

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“I will not repay and I will not disarm,” Coderre said. “The police are part of the solution; they are not part of the problem. ”

Montreal’s place in the world

Coderre said he decided to return to the municipal scene because he believes the city has lost its influence on the national and international scene.

He said the town has become like a “small village” and that the outgoing administration depends too much on the province for funds and major programs.

“It’s like we’re in stewardship,” he said.

As for Holness’ party, he said its proposal to hold a referendum on the city’s language status may seem appealing to some, but it is an unworkable proposal that is likely to drive a wedge between the city’s language groups.

“It’s nonsense to have a referendum on the language issue,” he said. “Do you want to live another referendum? It’s crazy. It’s so divisive.”

jmagder@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jasonmagder

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