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May 12, 2003

Here in Quebec, the Liberal Party at least partially owes its recent electoral victory to their policy on de-amalgamation. The Liberals have promised to allow any city that was amalgamated by force to regain its former status, if that is what their citizens want.

The former government forcibly merged some 250 cities across Quebec without consultation, without an electoral mandate, and without parliamentary debate. The new megacities thereby created have no legitimacy. This could not have happened in the U.S. (where state constitutions do not allow forced amalgamations) or in Europe (where the Charter of Local Democracy requires consultation prior to merging).

In fact, this recent spate of amalgamations in Canada goes against a worldwide trend in the opposite direction. All studies point to the diseconomies of scale following mergers. In fact all economic and political arguments in favour of amalgamation date to the period when big government was equated with good government.

I salute your efforts to assert your right to choose your municipality - and not to have it chosen for you.

Peter Trent
Former Mayor of the City of Westmount, Quebec, 1991 2001

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