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April 06, 2018

Montrealers have many reasons to rally behind the REM


By

André Fortin

Member for Pontiac
Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification

Martin Coiteux

Member for Nelligan
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy
Minister of Public Security
Minister responsible for the Montréal region

Carlos J. Leitão

Member for Robert-Baldwin
Minister of Finance

Geoffrey Kelley

Member for Jacques-Cartier
Minister responsible for Native Affairs

 

Source: Montreal Gazette

 

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The inauguration of the métro in 1966 left Quebecers with a profound sense of pride and accomplishment about the possibilities of public transportation that  remains unmatched. For the past 50 years, we have looked for innovative ways to improve transportation in and around Montreal that would repeat the impact of the métro.

Then came the REM (Réseau express métropolitain) — the most ambitious and promising development project we’ve seen in years — and, most important, one that is already underway.

Notwithstanding the fact the project is weeks away from breaking ground, opposition parties have once again shown that they prefer to place political interests ahead of the common good.

There is an extensive list of reasons Montrealers should rally behind this project. For the sake of brevity, we will limit our list to the top three.

First of all, it will provide the city and its outskirts with a green, modern and high-frequency transportation system that will significantly cut commuting time. This reason alone should satisfy even the most ardent naysayers.

But there is more. The REM will generate 34,000 jobs during the construction phase and create a thousand more once it is operational.

And finally, let’s remember that financing is already secured and in place.

Simply put, the REM will help make Montreal the world-class city it deserves to be by providing a first-class transportation solution to communities, families and citizens in need.

Viewed from this perspective, it’s difficult to interpret recent criticism of this signature project by the Parti Québécois and the Coalition Avenir Québec as anything more than partisan politics.

On the one hand, the Parti Québécois proposal will lead to another decade of consultations, feasibility studies and unnecessary delays. Their “Grand Déblocage” will not reduce commuting time for families in the Greater Montreal area, not to mention the potential negative impact it will have on the entire city’s economy. It also neglects the urgent needs of the West Island and the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, which for its part, is in continuous growth.

It is worth noting that economic and environmental leaders such as the mayors of Montreal, Laval and Brossard, as well as the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, Équiterre, the Suzuki Foundation and Trajectoire Québec, have all reiterated their desire to see the REM move forward despite the PQ’s proposal to terminate the project.

At the same time, the CAQ’s proposal would contravene the main rule of governance of the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec, which stands for independence and political neutrality.

It is regrettable to witness these attempts to harm the project, and by extension all those it will benefit, instead of working positively toward its implementation.

With the REM, we are finally moving into a modern era defined by widespread public transportation and efficiency. Of course, one project alone cannot solve every transportation challenge, but the REM is a tremendous step in the right direction and one that can make Quebecers proud again.

Parallel to the REM, the government of Quebec is also working to improve mobility in the entire Greater Montreal region, including in the East End. In fact, in the last budget, we made a commitment toward the extension of the blue line.

This government is committed to solving the Greater Montreal area’s transportation needs with a focus on excellence and execution. It would be a shame if partisan politics and electoral manoeuvres put that progress at risk.

André Fortin
Member for Pontiac
Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification

Martin Coiteux
Member for Nelligan
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy
Minister of Public Security
Minister responsible for the Montréal region

Carlos J. Leitão
Member for Robert-Baldwin
Minister of Finance

Geoffrey Kelley 
Member for Jacques-Cartier
Minister responsible for Native Affairs