The economy is what really needs everyone’s attention, not a referendum on Quebec sovereignty, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said Sunday after a meeting with Parti Québécois leader, Pauline Marois.
Coderre said he called the meeting with Marois to discuss issues of concern to Montreal, namely those related to the city’s economic and social development.
“The more we talk about a referendum, the more we don’t talk about priorities like the economy,” he told journalists after the meeting. "Don't come to me with a referendum. We don't want it."
Coderre said his discussions with Marois focused on social issues like homelessness and immigration and a special economic status for Montreal that would provide the financing and autonomy needed to create wealth and help keep Montreal on a competitive footing with other major cities.
“When Montreal functions, all of Quebec functions,” he said. “We’re not like other regions [of the province]. There are different realities that affect Montreal,” he said.
Coderre also asked the province to assist in a plan to cover a 125-meter section of Ville-Marie expressway between downtown and Old Montreal and turn the area into a public park.
Marois said her government was open to the $40-million proposal, which reversed earlier assertions from her government that it was not.
Coderre refused to get into his position on the PQ’s proposed secular charter, which would see all public sector employees banned from wearing overtly religious symbols. He has made it known that he opposes the proposed charter, known as Bill 60, which he sees as a threat to individual rights.
“You know my position, the premier knows my position, so there’s no need to discuss it,” he said.
Marois, however, was happy to discuss Bill 60, saying it would benefit Montreal.
“It will help to prevent unnecessary conflict and it will help us respect one another, that’s what we wish with this charter,” she said.