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The opposition deplores that François Legault “treated the mayors as beggars”

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press “It’s unworthy of a head of state, they are partners, the municipalities,” declared solidarity MP Étienne Grandmont in an interview. We can disagree but calling them beggars, I find it contemptuous. »

Québec solidaire (QS) and the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) deplored, Friday, that Prime Minister François Legault went so far as to treat mayors as beggars because of their requests for funding for public transport.

MP Étienne Grandmont, spokesperson for QS on the transport file, judged that his comments were inappropriate.

“It’s unworthy of a head of state, they are partners, the municipalities,” he declared in an interview. We can disagree but calling them beggars, I find it contemptuous. »

Mr. Grandmont believes that Mr. Legault's remarks will harm his relations with the municipal world.

“If I were in his place and I had escaped such words, of course I would apologize because this is not the kind of relationship I would like to build with the municipalities,” he said.

Thursday, Mr. Legault accused mayors of taking the easy way out by turning to his government to “beg” for funding for public transportation rather than ordering their own management.

The liberal spokesperson for the municipal file, MP Michelle Setlakwe, considers that Mr. Legault has gone too far and that his comments are unnecessarily adding fuel to the fire.

“I don’t see why we would treat our partners as beggars,” she said in an interview.

Ms. Setlakwe pointed out that Mr. Legault sometimes finds himself -even in a position to request funds from the federal government.

“These are partnerships just like us with the government of Quebec vis-à-vis the federal government, a- she said. Do we want to be called beggars ? It’s not worthy of his duties. »

A declaration which carries

Mr. Grandmont emphasized that mayors do not need financial support only for public transportation but also for schools, hospitals and other services and infrastructures on their territory, which broadens the scope of Mr. Legault's declaration.

“When I hear the Prime Minister calling mayors beggars, I don’t know if he is addressing all the mayors of Quebec, but I hear that in any case,” he said. Because all municipalities have partnership relations with the government. »

According to Mr. Grandmont, cities and municipalities have already made budgetary efforts to restore their public transportation services.

< p>“The municipalities are not in “quest” mode either, they are already doing immense optimization work,” underlined Mr. Grandmont.

The Green Fund, which is provided with 1.7 billion dollars, should be used to restore the finances of transport companies, suggested the MP.

“It’s a fund that is supposed to help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec,” he said. We have 43% of our GHGs which are caused by transport and we have a deficit of 622 million for transport companies so let's temporarily commit for the next year to ensure that there are no cuts in services . »

On Wednesday, the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, affirmed that public transport was not part of the State's missions. She qualified her remarks by specifying, Thursday, that she rather meant that the government should not interfere in the daily management of transport companies.

The mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, for his part withdrew his confidence in Ms. Guilbault and described her vision of sustainable mobility as retrograde, which led Mr. Legault to come to her defense.


The president of the Quebec Federation of Municipalities, Jacques Demers, appealed for calm.

“These are regrettable comments,” he said. said in an interview regarding Mr. Legault's statements.

Mr. Demers still deplored the general tone of the exchanges “on one side or the other”.

“In these issues, I think that we doesn't help anyone by getting angry in our words, we are capable of sitting down together to work for the citizens, he said. No matter how much we talk about levels of government, it's always the same citizen at the end of the line, whether their money comes from one side or the other, we're talking about the same money. »

Mr. Demers accused Mr. Legault of harming municipalities by repeating for years, notably on Thursday, that the salaries of municipal employees are 30% higher than those of Quebec government civil servants.

“That’s not the case, that’s not true,” he said.

In the majority of municipalities , salaries are lower. The exceptions are found in large cities, which must compete with the Quebec public service, explained Mr. Demers, who has already discussed it with the Prime Minister.

« I personally had a discussion with him to tell him that when he makes these remarks, it does not correspond to the case of at least 95 to 98% of municipalities in Quebec, these are a few exceptions,” he said. said.

Even if Mr. Legault maintains that his government is the one that has invested the most in public transportation, Mr. Demers observes that the municipalities he represents have also increased their spending on these services, the costs of which have recently exploded from 200 to 300 %.

“Obviously everyone has to put in more money. “I'm not surprised he put in more, but I don't think it's necessarily commensurate with the rising costs,” he said.

As for the State's mission for public transportation, Mr. Demers said he was ready to discuss it with Ms. Guilbault.

“I imagine that someone who says that needs to understand, perhaps, what is happening on the ground,” he said.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116