The municipality of Montreal Pierre Pelletier of the Montreal newspaper Le Petit Journal, interviewed Mr. J.-M. Savignac, president of Executive Committee of Montreal (the actual ruling body of this city). In the edition of the week end of January 24, of this year, Le Petit Journal reported the results of this interview. (We set down here the free translation of the questions and answers)
— What are your projects for the year 1960?!
— I don't know that we're going to do," replied Mr. Savignac. "We are really worried; we don't know in which direction to turn. We're afraid to start anything.".
— "But surely, Mr. Savignac, you must have some projects for the coming year?"
— "My dear sir, money is scarce. Public works, great undertakings can only be accomplished by borrowing money. Everything depends upon the rates of interest governing these loans! If money continues to be as tight as it has been and the interest rates as high, we'll only be able to carry out those works which are absolutely essential. If the people want public works they are going to have to pay for them — they'll have to pay taxes!... We must take into consideration the financial status of the city. It's all very well to talk grandly about undertaking public works, my dear chap, but what if there is no money?
(Mr. Savignac then went on to talk about the worries which were being caused by the bill for the corporation of Metropolitan Montreal, presently before the provincial government).
— "The other reason why we can't say what works we shall undertake this year is that we don't know as yet what sort of a budget we will have."
— "When will it be adopted?"
— "Possibly about March 15. It will be in the neighborhood of $165,793,170:00"
— You expect an increase, then, in the budget?"
— "Yes, between ten and twenty millions of dollars."
— "And you mean to tell me that with a budget like that you don't know what public works you will be able to undertake?"
— "We have a great many things to deal with." replied Mr. Sevignac.
The president of the Executive Committee then went on to enumerate a number of items which were going to take large bites out of the budget — 5 million dollars to pay on the Metropolitan Boulevard, ambulances to buy for the police, parks to be developed, city renovations, streets to be paved, and that most worrisome of all the budgetary items, snow removal during the winter months which will cost at least some $4 million.
When the reporter asked about parking lots. and the possibility of a subway system for the city, the president could hardly refrain from laughing in his face. Referring to the latter, he said: "That is quite outside the question." Then he continued.
— "We must get along, according to our means. If the money situation doesn't improve."
— What do you mean, if the money situation doesn't improve?"
— "Money is scarce, very scarce." replied the president. "The rates of interest are very high. Some municipalities simply can't borrow any money. We were lucky."
The article then goes on to note that the recent big loan by the city was obtained only at the cost of an interest rate of 7.58%.
Let us pass now to the consideration of an article which appeared in the Montreal Star of Monday, January 25. The article appears on the front page; top left-hand column with two column headline reading, "Critical Plight Faced By City Police Force". Following are excerpts:
"The Montreal Police Department is in its most critical plight of the past 10 years today.
"It is at least 400 constables and 50 vehicles short, hamstrung by a budget that looks big but is little at $15 million — and the coup de grace has been administered by the 40 hour week.
"Declared a top-flight officer: "Things can only get better now. They couldn't possibly get worse."...
"The force has 2,758 policemen (including 20 women) which works out to one per 526 population. The department's proposed 1960-61 budget scheduled for city study next month will ask for one constable per 447 people minimum, although one per 380 would be more suitable...
"Says Police Director Albert Langlois: "We're doing the best we can with what we've got. Our best, means that many investigation are conducted by policemen travelling by bus. No cars are available..."
"A northwest district inspector mirrored the distress of department officialdom the other day when he begged for four more constables. I'm not asking for the moon, just four men, he said. He had 61 to protect his district which comprises 113,250 people, 2,375 acres and city valued property of $14 million."
(A recent issue of this same paper carried an article on the alarming increase in crime especially armed robbery by young criminals and the increasing acts of violence and lawlessness occuring in certain parts of the city. These simply bear out what the department says about a shortage of personnel. Ed.).
Thirdly, let us turn to a publicity release sent out by the secretary of the Union of Electors, Miss Therese Tardif, on January 19, 1960.
The municipal council of Drummondville South adopted the following resolution at its regular session on January 7, 1960: "It is proposed by Mr. George Couture and seconded by Mr. Adrien Pronovost, that the city council ask the federal government to take the necessary steps to the end that the Bank of Canada advance credits, free of interest charges, for the financing of public works and developments. It is also proposed that the council ask the provincial government also to urge the federal government to this step..."
"More than 450 municipalities and school commissions have adopted this resolution which was first formulated by the Crediters of the Union of Electors and afterwards pressed upon all communities and public bodies by this organization.
"Public institutions are beset with grave financial problems. Many projects and works cannot be carried on or realized. The taxpayers can be burdened no more; they are loaded to the limit. Borrowing from the banks simply means rates of interest which double the amount of money which must be repaid. Finally business and property owners find themselves called upon to bear a tax load which ends by ruining many in both classes. That is why Crediters invite all citizens to join them, all bodies and organizations, public and private, in demanding that the Bank of Canada be obliged to issue new credits, free of interest, for financing new production and developments."
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The first two sections of this article — the interview with Mr. Savignac and the report on the perilous plight of the Montreal police force are simply two of the thousands of examples that might be cited of the heartbreaking problems facing municipalities and public institutions in their fight to finance and carry on those essential services and developments needed by a growing population.
The city of Montreal is the largest city in Canada with a population rapidly approaching the 2 million mark. It is overflowing the island on which it was founded; it's traffic problems, complicated by a maze of narrow streets on which most of the important business section is built, are further compounded by a mountain sitting squarely in the middle of the city. Yet the city of Montreal, industrially powerful, is unable to finance new projects — its leaders shrug their shoulders helplessly and don't know which way to turn for money. And it's police force is completely inadequate to cope with growing crime which is growing specifically because the police force is inadequate.
Now, of course, it is sheer idiocy to talk about a "tight money market"; for even if there were plenty of money on the market, under the existing financial system borrowing only compounds the debt to be repaid and leads to a state of indefinite slavery to the financiers, to whom the money is owed, and who alone can issue news credit. In other words, some other way than borrowing from the banks or financial institutions must be found unless our society is to end up in complete and abject surrender to the dictatorship of finance.
That way is the Social Credit way. Let the Bank of Canada — the people's bank — issue new credits, free of interest, for new developments, which credits will be destroyed once the product they have financed into existence has been consumed. This is the only rational way, the only way compatible with the dignity, of man and the principle of individual liberty.