Opponents of an Elections Quebec proposal to merge the provincial ridings of Mont-Royal and Outremont gathered at the Côte-des-Neiges community centre Tuesday night.
Hundreds of residents listened to politicians and community leaders encourage people to take legal action against the merger.
At the meeting were city councilors and mayors of different municipalities, including Hampstead, NDG-Côte-des-Neiges, and representatives of the mayors of Outremont, Town of Mount Royal and Côte Saint-Luc.
People at the meeting argued that merging the ridings of Mont-Royal and Outremont will split natural communities up and dilute their votes.
“It’s dividing our community east and west,” said Suetlana Suarez, a Côte-des-Neiges resident and representative of the Filipino community.
“Our community is not wealthy but we are willing to help.”
Beryl Wajsman, editor of The Suburban newspaper, has raised about $7,000 to support the challenge and encouraged others to sign up and do the same.
Wajsman believes there should be an ethics challenge in addition to a legal challenge.
The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is also lending its voice to the cause.
School board chair Angela Mancini said members will pass a resolution asking Elections Quebec to overturn its decision.
The resolution will be voted on at the school board’s next meeting on March 29.
Former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings will head a committee in charge of organizing the efforts to challenge the merger.
“This committee will be transparent and accountable to the community, work with the mayors and lead the eventual legal challenge,” Montreal city Coun. Marvin Rotrand said.
Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg said the merger discriminates against cultural minorities.
Steinberg added that Hampstead will help finance the legal challenge to the tune of $1 per resident.
He invited other mayors — especially Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre — to follow suit and defend residents’ votes.
Several residents signed up to a list and pledged to become involved at the end of the meeting.
Liberal Member of Parliament and former Côte Saint-Luc mayor Anthony Housefather released a statement supporting the fight against merging the two ridings.
“Why natural communities, especially minority language and cultural communities were so disregarded in the new map proposed by the Quebec Director General of Elections is puzzling and somewhat shocking,” Housefather said in a statement.
He also pledged a financial contribution to a court challenge.
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