CDN-NDG

DEMOCRACY PROGRAM

Press Release

Executive Summary:

Montreal Democracy only in name. Broken system.

Incumbents use pandemic to shield themselves from scrutiny.

City fails to use technology to support democratic values.

Cases in point:  Sue refuses to release poll data paid by public for partisan purposes;  Leader of opposition, Lionel Perez won last election with only 9% of voters.

System can be easily hijacked by special interest groups.

Team CDN-NDG calls for:

  • The ability of people to vote in municipal elections by showing proof of residence at the polls, as is done in federal elections.

  • Allowing eligible voters to register online.

  • Exploring the possibility of allowing alternative vehicles for voting.

  • Reaching out to the young and other groups that historically do not vote.

  • Modernizing question periods using currently available video conferencing technology.

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In the age of the pandemic, Montreal’s already fragile democracy suffers even more.

 

The government has imposed severe restrictions on the movement and gathering of its citizens.  These measures can be easily argued as a necessary measure to stem the spread of the virus.

Yet, despite online technologies that allow us to stay connected, the city’s councils have decided to limit their use.  This is not acceptable. 

In a time where governments are imposing severe limits on citizens' capacity to be involved in public life, we deplore the lack of action and goodwill by the same elected representatives to use available tools to shore up democratic life.

As a case study, Lionel Perez the leader of the official opposition holds office by securing a mere 9% of the eligible voters.  Only 607 votes separated him from his closest rival in the last election. 77% of the 28 000 eligible voters did not vote in his district.  The worst participation rate in the borough.

Council meetings behind closed doors are cut off from true public participation & further insulate incumbents from scrutiny.

All this, in a borough where incumbents are likely to only vacate their positions through arrest, death or resignation.  Incumbents with their hands on the levers of power use public funds to win favour among strategic voting blocks.  This creates an political environment where fringe groups can easily hijack the political agenda.

City council now only allows for one question, whereas before the pandemic, residents were permitted to ask 2.  No attempt is being made to use video conferencing technologies to re-establish live real time question periods.

We are limited to a mere 1000 characters to pose questions.  I challenge journalists to give context and pose a question in this format.

All while our elected officials use the offices they hold to entrench themselves. Spending public money and buying favour among strategic voting blocks.

Another case in point.  Sue Montgomery, who recently established a new political party, stated "I invite everyone who cares about integrity, transparency and accountability to join me." https://montrealgazette.com/.../c-d-n-n-d-g-borough-mayor...

She recently conducted a telephone poll of the residents of CDN-NDG, conducted by Main Street Research.   Using a series of politically loaded questions posed by Sue Montgomery herself that sounded like a campaign ad, this company's hiring was paid graciously by the borough’s taxpayers.

We issued an access to information request for information on this poll and the data collected paid by public funds.

Responding to our access to information request, the Service du greffe stated that « Le cabinet de Mme Montgomery nous indique qu'il désire se prévaloir de l'article 34. Donc, nous ne sommes pas en mesure de vous remettre les documents. »

 

She refused our request for transparency! The hypocrisy is telling.

With an election less than a year away there is no discussion or plan to revamp Montreal’s electoral system.

Clearly the system works well for our current elected representatives.

It is in this context that: Team/Equipe CDN-NDG calls for:

  • The ability of people to vote in municipal elections by showing proof of residence at the polls, as is done in federal elections.

  • Allowing eligible voters to register online.

  • Exploring the possibility of allowing alternative vehicles for voting.

  • Reaching out to the young and other groups that historically do not vote.

  • Modernizing question periods using currently available video conferencing technology.

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