The following is excerpted from a Huffington Post guest post by Peter Trent, author of The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal.
Just over ten years ago, two hundred municipalities all over Quebec were merged against their will. Some were amalgamated into megacities. The governing Parti Québécois had no mandate to do this; moreover, pleading the "urgency" to act, they refused to consult citizens. Besides, we were told, mergers would save money and redirect suburban taxes to the central city. Mergers were supposedly a world-wide trend and had always been imposed in Quebec. None of those claims was true.
Once the legislation imposing the mergers, Bill 170, was rammed through Quebec's National Assembly, there remained only two strategies available to me in fighting a law that wiped out so many municipalities including my own. We could try to overturn Bill 170 in court; and, failing that, to force the opposition Liberal Party to honour their increasingly flaccid promise of "de-merger." The two strategies were interlinked: pursuing the matter in court kept the public's ire on the boil, long enough for the Liberals possibly to get elected and -- with a little help from me -- to bring about the world's first urban de-merger.
The Merger Delusion is a finalist for the Writers' Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.