Reports out of Montreal indicate that Mayor Gerald Tremblay is taking a beating from Vision Montreal councillors, who are attacking him for what they see as unnecessary tax increases in the 2009 budget.
The Mayor, who is running for re-election next November, counters opposition criticism by stating his budget actually freezes property taxes in the New Year. I suspect the truth lies buried somewhere within the labyrinth of their massive $4 billion dollar budget.
Benoit Labonté, the leader of Vision Montreal has been a harsh critic of both Tremblay and his budget claiming that it is full of nothing more than election year goodies. It should be noted that Benoit plans to run for Mayor in next year's election.
In an echo of this year's election campaign in Vancouver, Montreal council is being described by some local media as 'fractured' and 'dysfunctional'. Mayor Tremblay's Union Montreal party is expected to pass the budget as they hold a majority of seats on council.
On a related item, the Montreal Gazette is reporting that Labonte put forward a motion before council to allocate 1% of this year's estimated $51 million dollar surplus to the city's network of food banks.
Labonté's motion was immediately rejected by Tremblay's government who called it 'just plain politics.'
Marie-Andrée Beaudoin, the city's executive committee member responsible for social development told the Gazette "he is making himself out to be the great defender of the poor in Montreal...he's not Santa Claus."
In what will not come as a surprise to all you avid CityCaucus.com readers in Montreal, Labonté's motion was defeated by a vote of 48-14.
Here is some good background reading on this story: