Time to re­con­sider

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

ThatAyer’s Cliff is ready to study the idea of merg­ing with Hat­ley is a bit of fresh air in the mu­nic­i­pal mess that reigns in La Belle Prov­ince.

You want num­bers, af­ter all you had to align some lately on your in­come tax forms, so let’s start. Que­bec pop­u­la­tion: a tad over 8,000,000; On­tario’s: 13,500,000. Provin­cial rid­ings in Que­bec: 125, On­tario: 107. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties: 1,112 vs 444. MRCs? Health Boards? School Boards?

For those of you who re­ally flunked math in school, we will ex­plain the rule of three, sim­ply. Take a num­ber, let’s say the pop­u­la­tion of Que­bec, and di­vide by an­other, On­tario in this in­stance. This will give, in this case, around 60%, our magic num­ber. So let’s di­vide the num­ber of Que­bec mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties as they are now. We get around 667. Let’s be nasty and do the same with the num­bers from On­tario: 266!

Pop­u­la­tion wise, if we were in On­tario, we would only have 266 vil­lages, towns in Que­bec.

Let’s be hon­est, there is al­ways more than num­bers. Que­bec is larger than On­tario, so what if we tried to only match On­tario? How many bil­lions a year would we save? Not what we spend by our magic num­ber ob­vi­ously, there is no 40% in­stant sav­ings here. A road is a road and clear­ing it will not come much cheaper if done by a larger mu­nic­i­pal­ity. But we be­lieve it would be cheaper, cor­rup­tion aside, maybe by five to ten per­cent.

Taxes would be a bit more eq­ui­table. Right now, any mu­nic­i­pal­ity that pro­vides ser­vices is sub­si­diz­ing those who don’t.

What Que­bec needs is not more govern­ment but a lot less, not more ju­ris­dic­tions. Ev­ery­body of sound mind agrees that the unique­ness of Que­bec is due to its French facet, but we do not have to fol­low that ex­am­ple: with a pop­u­la­tion of 65,000,000, it has over 36,000 towns, vil­lages and ham­lets. The usu­ally un­rea­son­able Ital­ians hav­ing only about 8,000.

Shrink­ing the num­bers of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties would be an ex­cel­lent way of hav­ing a more fis­cally re­spon­si­ble govern­ment.

But it has to be a lo­cal af­fair and this is where the Ayer’s Cliff and Hat­ley merger be­comes a model for the whole prov­ince. It’s not some edict from Que­bec and its func­tionar­ies who, like it or not, will do ev­ery­thing in their col­lec­tive (bar­gain­ing) power to fight the idea. They are the ones who have their jobs on the line. Less mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties means less func­tionar­ies (ir)re­spon­si­ble for deal­ing with them. A lot less. Less MRCs, less Health Boards, less School Boards means even less pen­cil push­ers in Que­bec and in re­gional of­fices.

Ayer’s Cliff and Hat­ley are on the right track. They can­not af­ford to study the im­pli­ca­tion of not only the fi­nan­cial as­pects but all of them, alone. The Que­bec Trea­sury Depart­ment, al­ways on the look­out for ways to shave the provin­cial bud­get, should give them fi­nan­cial aid to do so.

Other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties around the Mas­saw­ippi Lake and Val­ley should also join in, find­ing ways of keep­ing all of their iden­ti­ties and get­ting bet­ter govern­ment. If it comes from the peo­ple, chances are that it would work; Im­posed from Que­bec, an­other night­mare.

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