It’s spring and “partitioning” is in the air

If Montreal becomes  a city state, can Toronto be far behind?

If Montreal becomes a city state, can Toronto be far behind?

In a sort of geopolitical shot-gun wedding officiated by the former Soviet KGB station chief and current oligarch-in-residence Vladimir Putin, Crimeans voted on Sunday to split from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Amid the turrets and waving barrels of Kalashnikov-toting “military observers” Moscow and environs, the result was better than 95 per cent in favour, which drew howls of derision from Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, whose own approval in this country rating has rarely tracked above 40 per cent.

“The so-called referendum. . . was conducted with Crimea under illegal military occupation,” he said in a statement. “Its results are a reflection of nothing more than Russian military control. Any solution to this crisis must respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine as well as the constitution of Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s reckless and unilateral actions will lead only to Russia’s further economic and political isolation from the international community.”

That’s pretty tough talk coming from a head of state with virtually no navy of which to speak (Meanwhile, Russia, which has evinced great interest in Canada’s north polar territories, maintains a fleet of 210 warships and 70 submarines. . .just. . .you know. . .food for thought).

Still, Mr. Harper has a point. The Crimean vote bears all the outward signs of a well-organized sham – least among them, perhaps, is Johannes Hubner’s endorsement of it. 

The member of Austria’s reactionary Freedom Party told The Globe and Mail, “I would say this election doesn’t seem to be less legitimate than the elections in Ukraine before. We see no signs of intimidation, no signs of a breach of security. We have seen Cossacks and militias standing around polling stations, but no one interferes.”

No, there’d be no need; now would there?

Political leaders in Canada are far less adept at overt intimidation than their Russian counterparts. But, despite empirical evidence to the contrary, spring is nearly upon us and partitioning is in the air, even here in the torpid Great White North.

As if Quebec Premier Pauline Marois’ determination to yank the errant strand of separation that runs through her distinct society like a loose threat weren’t enough to try  a federalist’s patience, now comes word about some Montrealers’ plans for their fair metropolis, lately besieged by crumbling overpasses, trembling bureaucrats and overbearing mob bosses.

In a February 27 post, MTL Blog editor Michael Michael D’Alimonte, “a self-proclaimed nerd and genius (who) loves all things Whedon and Batman-related,” outlined “10 Reasons Why Montreal Should Become A City State”,  pointing out that “Montreal as a city state is not a lofty concept.”  

In fact, his research borrows heavily from some actual high-concept work done by Montreal consultant, lecturer and author Michel David, who heads the group, Reinvent Montreal. Its proposed charter, “Montreal City State: Canada’s Entrepreneurial Hub” states that “the island of Montreal and the rest of Quebec (ROQ) are two distinct societies on three fundamental dimensions:  

“Society. . .ROQ is homogeneous; Montral is multi-ethnic, 51 per cent non-French, 80 different ethnic groups. 

“Culture. . .ROQ is local, the group comes first; Montreal is cosmopolitan, primacy is to the individual. 

“Economy. . .ROQ is driven by natural resources and agriculture; Montreal, like most major cities, is driven by networks of commerce and knowledge.  

“Seventy percent of Montrealers and Quebecers agree that Montreal is different from the rest of the province in the way business is conducted, its interaction with the provincial government, the priorities it has as a region and the way it governs itself as a city.”

Apparently, these differences – and the fact that the Province of Quebec is mired in debt and keeps making dumb decisions about language rights and religious freedoms  – are deep enough to justify Montreal kicking it Singapore style.

“Around the world,” the charter insists, “there are numerous examples of cities/regions that have the status and the responsibilities to create high performance economic centers; for example: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Berlin, Hamburg, New York.”

It’s enough to make you wonder: If he were mayor of Montreal, what would dear, old Vlad do? 

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