Harel speaks to Anglo audience
Amy Luft, ctvmontreal.ca
Published Saturday, September 26, 2009 2:24PM EDT
Louise Harel spoke with listeners on CJAD radio Saturday, where she discussed transportation to the West Island, cleaning up city hall, and her struggle with the English language.
"I'm afraid to speak in English, not because I'm afraid to make mistakes, but because I'm afraid to make political mistakes," said the Vision Montreal leader on Anne Lagac�-Dowson's radio program.
The appearance could be Harel's only English-language audience with voters during the municipal election campaign.
Expected to speak between 1 and 2 p.m., Harel arrived at 1:25, and began by telling Lagac�-Dowson about her lack of English-language instruction during her childhood in Ste. Therese.
"It's strange because usually the man in the family - husband, father, brother - learned. It was often like that many years ago. It was the rule of the game," she said, adding that she first learned English in 5th grade, and that her father was bilingual but her mother only learned the language after age 50.
"I think it's a personal handicap," she said. "But the most important thing is the right attitude, and I think I have this."
Merger discussion over
Harel said she has no intention of revisiting the merger discussion, and that her first rule of business as mayor would be to end corruption in the city's administration.
"My first hope is to make a very major clean-up at city hall because I think it's long overdue. I think Montrealers are wishing for this major cleaning and wishing this mayor would change," she said.
"Those who are satisfied with Tremblay's administration can vote for him, but I think those who really want to be proud of Montreal will choose change."
When asked if she would consider officially changing Montreal to a bilingual city to attract tourism and business, Harel said she would not.
"Montreal is the most great French city in North America and it's in the charter of Montreal now, this affirmation. I won't change that," she said.
"We have to live together and the Anglo community has a very great role to play, but the city is the greatest French city in North America."
Separation not a municipal issue: Harel
When asked about her ties to separation, she said it was not a municipal issue.
"The future of Quebec won't be determined by the municipal election," she said.
She spoke of Benoit Labonte's federalist views, saying they didn't let provincial politics come in the way of the issues.
"If we can make (an) alliance with separatists, federalists, Liberals, Pequists... we can rebuild our city and rebuild the trust of Montrealers."
Harel also said she supported a metro station in Bois-Francs, as well as a light-rail line from Dorval to downtown.
Poised to improve
Though she struggled to get her message across at times, Harel said she is committed to stepping up her language skills.
"I'm open-minded. It's a question of practice. I've never had a chance to practice now, but I promise to improve my English. I practice every day now," she said.
Harel and her Project Montreal party will face Mayor Gerald Tremblay and his Union Montreal party, as well as Richard Bergeron and the Projet Montreal party in a municipal election on Nov. 1.