August 26, 2014 6:50 pm

No consensus as Bill 3 hearings wrap up

QUEBEC CITY – Quebec’s Municipal Affairs Minister is disappointed.

“I tried very hard on principle to have an exchange with them (the Canadian Union of Public Employees), but they don’t want to answer the question,” Pierre Moreau told media on the last day of hearings.

The question is who will pay down municipal pension deficits, estimated at $4 billion?

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Moreau repeated his question about a dozen times. Each time, union spokesperson Marc Ranger answered that, in his view, open negotiations will lead to savings, which in turn, will be used to hack away at the deficit.

“The elephant in the room is not as big as he’s saying, it’s closer to a mouse,” said Ranger. “Right now the efforts we are making are sufficient.”

Moreau doesn’t see it that way.

He said if unions refuse to split the bill 50-50, cities will be forced to raise taxes and taxpayers — especially those without a pension plan of their own — will lose out.

But the PQ argued re-opening collective agreements to force 50-50 sharing will set a dangerous precedent.

“If you open this kind of contract, you have some problem because it’s the first exception but maybe not the last,” said PQ MNA Alain Therrien.

While tension inside the red room was contained, over at Montreal city hall, it was threatening to boil over. Councillor Anie Samson told media on Tuesday perpetrators of the August 18 trashing should face criminal charges, suggesting some municipal employees will lose their jobs.

“There are more than 100 witnesses to meet so how can she declare that there’s going to be criminal accusations and people will lose their jobs? It doesn’t make sense,” said Yves Francoeur, President of the Montreal Police Brotherhood.

Francoeur said he believes Samson’s political interference tainted the police investigation. He asked that the file be transferred to the SQ, adding the councilor’s comments have only exacerbated social tensions.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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