Speech - president:Mr. Benoit Labonté, presidentClosing address; Montreal 2017 – A 375-Year-Old City of the World

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Added on 1 May 2002 in Speeches


Speech given by Mr. Benoit Labonté
President, Board of Trade of metropolitan Montreal

May 1st, 2002

Closing Address;  Montreal 2017 – A 375-Year-Old City of the World

Honoured speakers, Past presidents of the Board of Trade, and Symposium delegates,

I'd first like to thank our invited speakers, panellists, facilitators and presenters. I'd also like to extend thanks to the Symposium participants, who have contributed so eloquently to this event and have had such a positive impact on the quality of the discussions and debates that have taken place here over the past two days of this symposium.

In addition, I wish to acknowledge the organizational support provided to our symposium by the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de la Métropole du Québec. And finally, sincere thanks go to Minister André Boisclair for his invaluable assistance.

After two days of discussion and debate, after all of the recommendations put forward, and after all of the forecasts formulated for the coming 15 years, a general agreement has been reached that “Montreal's best days are yet to come.”

First off, I'd like to provide you with a sort of reader's guide to my comments that follow. For the Board of Trade, and as we've clearly indicated in our “Policy Statement,” the name “Montreal” is intended to be taken in a regional sense. For us, the concepts of urban agglomeration and city-region are one and the same. They've become a part of our natural reflexes.

That being said, as the third millennium dawns, Montreal stands at a unique juncture:

• A new city,

• A new Metropolitan Community,

• The new dynamics of urban agglomeration being experienced world-wide.

Rarely does a city find itself at such a crossroads. We are embarking on a unique challenge and opportunity that will lead to positive changes for Montreal. It was therefore inevitable that the Board of Trade would focus on this challenge during its symposium.

But beyond the reflection and debates, what Montreal really needs is action: concrete, well thought-out action, ongoing action, action that will allow the city to clearly stand apart from the competition. That is why, rather than closing this Montreal 2017 symposium, I call on you, on behalf of the Board of Trade and its 7,000 members, to join us in our efforts to help fuel the new city of Montreal and its entire metropolitan area with unstoppable momentum.

In short, let's do our part to create the true City of the World that Montreal can become – an extraordinary, inspiring, passionate metropolis – where 375 years of history will be celebrated on May 16, 2017.

Stimulated by forces and challenges it's never before been confronted with, Montreal must today continue to adapt, innovate and change. As our symposium draws to a close, three basic elements have emerged from the discussions as being crucial to optimizing Montreal's quality of life, prosperity and competitiveness over the next 15 years.

These elements are:

  • CREATIVITY
  • COHERENCE
  • COHESIVENESS

Saying that Montreal needs creativity might be stating the obvious. Whether we think of creation of new wealth, job creation or the rise of a new creative class, economic growth and creativity go hand in hand. My goal is certainly not to remind you so.

Montreal is a creative city. Its potential has never been in doubt. What I'd like to stress instead is that certain conditions must be met to allow the city to fully realize this creative potential. Montreal can no longer be satisfied to simply astound the world from time to time, however impressive its exploits may be. Faced with other international metropolitan centres that boast boundless structured and studied ingenuity, we must make the very most of our entire creativity.

To do this, we must be confident, bold and, above all, courageous enough to stir things up. And if that upsets some people, we'll take it as a compliment. The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is making a formal commitment following this symposium: the commitment to act as a unifying, contributory and responsible change agent in order to promote the development of Montreal. And we'll do our utmost to use as much creativity along the way as we are demanding from other Montreal stakeholders.

This brings me to the second element we consider to be fundamental to the success of the Montreal urban agglomeration: coherence.

This term stands for one very simple concept: our actions and decisions cannot contradict one another. The creation of the Montreal Metropolitan Community has presented us with a potentially extremely powerful tool – a tool with which to monitor, indeed perhaps generate, the coherence essential to Montreal's economic development. It is imperative that a spirit of partnership and collaboration prevail in the new city, not only among elected representatives, but also between these representatives, Montreal's citizens and the entities that believe so strongly in its development and growth. The Montreal Metropolitan Community has handed us an extraordinary opportunity.

The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal will do its part to actively ensure that the region's actors and decision-makers understand and make the most of this opportunity, because we firmly believe that we must approach the city's development as a city-region. As a business community, we have a civic duty to contribute to this coherence. We are as responsible – and accountable – for this as our elected officials.

Finally, coherence means sharing a community of ideas in the pursuit of a common goal. This is something for which we must strive if we are to witness Montreal becoming a true, vibrant Cité of the world.

The Board of Trade has made the commitment to lead by example. Most notably, we'll do this by conducting a close follow-up on the ideas and recommendations that come out of this symposium. Using a performance measuring system with indicators developed specifically for our purpose, such as:

o a “governance” index, which will allow us to evaluate the extent to which regional stakeholders are involved,
o a “creative capital” index, which will allow us to measure the growth of the creative population within Montreal's economy,

we'll rigorously monitor and measure our new city's progress. We'll make our findings public each year, because our symposium marks not the end, but rather the beginning of a process. We've begun our reflection, and we'll continue to be reflective in our actions.

This brings me to the final basic element in the competitiveness and ongoing prosperity of the Montreal metropolitan area: cohesiveness, meaning the sharing of a vision and unity and solidarity among the city's citizens, stakeholders and decision-makers. We've already witnessed it here at the symposium, for the mobilization of the people of Barcelona and Lyon was at the core of their successful positioning strategies. And there is only one way to achieve this degree of mobilization: leadership!

As you know, the ambition of Montrealers is on a par with their potential. They want to do more and do it better. They want their leaders to show them the objectives they are aiming for on behalf of the city. They want to know what strategies and methods their elected representatives will collectively use in order to confidently tackle tomorrow's issues. This vital cohesiveness presents us with three challenges:

The first, as you know, is to set in motion momentum for the betterment of the new city of Montreal and its metropolitan community. Our second challenge in this aspect, which we believe is just as important as the first, is to ensure that all political and economic players – be they municipal, regional, provincial or federal – fully understand that Montreal has everything to gain from an approach that is based on the concept of an urban agglomeration and that their actions reflect this. Our successes in 15 years from now will be directly proportional to the degree to which this awareness has prevailed. Our third collective challenge is a social one: we must do everything we can to ensure that as many people as possible get involved in the advancement and development of Montreal. Its prosperity must be of benefit to all citizens. We can therefore not ignore the challenges of the fight against poverty and exclusion. We will never achieve sustained economic prosperity without a unified society. And we'll never have a unified society without sustained economic prosperity.

Cohesion within the Montreal region will not be possible without the essential participation of the business community. Its involvement in Montreal's development is indeed a sine qua non condition of our collective success.

Because it is the only business organization that specifically focuses on the entire metropolitan community, and because it is the only business organization that puts the economic interests of the whole agglomeration first, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is very much aware that it has a key role to play in this city. And it will play that role!

Creativity, coherence, cohesiveness

Together, these three elements awaken in us a passion and drive to act on behalf of Montreal. In preparing for this symposium, we had the privilege of sharing this enthusiasm for change – change to ensure that we will always share more dreams than memories with one another. And these dreams are fed by a culture of belonging, pride and ambition for Montreal.

The Board of Trade's vision of the coming fifteen years is fuelled by passion. And this passion will make us more demanding; it will incite us to identify, sometimes severely, corrections that we'll have to make in our course and new challenges we'll have to face. Our main challenge will be contributing to making Montreal a City of the World in every way.

More than ever, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is open for business! More than ever, the Board of Trade is calling on Montrealers to seize the moment so that we'll always be able to say that there is nowhere else we would rather live than Montreal, because there is nowhere else except Montreal where one can realize such tremendous dreams!

Thank you.