THE MONTRÉAL CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES: A TOOL THAT DESERVES BETTER RECOGNITION

MONTREAL, April 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The Office de consultation publique makes public today the report of the commission responsible for the public consultation on the revision of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. The Charter was adopted by city council a few years ago, following a vast consultation held by the Office, and came into effect on January 1, 2006. The text refers to values largely shared by the citizens of Montréal, and aims to foster responsible and harmonious relationships among the citizens themselves, and between the citizens and the City. The Charter serves as a form of social contract between Montréal and its citizens, and recognizes their role in Montréal's affairs.

The commission received 37 briefs, as well as 32 citizen contributions on the OCPM Website. Three information and discussion forums were held, allowing the remarkable participation of several human rights experts, the Conseil des Montréalaises, the Conseil interculturel de Montréal, the Conseil jeunesse de Montréal, representatives of groups particularly affected by the Charter, citizens, and many other members of Montréal civil society. The discussions were very productive, as were the suggestions and improvements proposed by participants.

The general consensus emerging from the consultation is that elected officials, managers, employees and citizens should all become more familiar with the Charter. The commission recommends that Montréal intensify its efforts in terms of information, awareness-raising and education, and believes that much work needs to be done in those areas.

Several of the proposals focused on making the Charter more effective. Firstly, in keeping with the opinion of numerous participants, the commission recommends that Montréal draw up and make public an implementation plan for the Charter. Specifically, it recommends the addition, in the Charter, of Article 31.1, providing for periodic reporting on Montréal's activities to publicize and implement the Charter. Moreover, the commission recommends that the City ensures that the Charter and the commitments therein be applied equally by all of the boroughs. The boroughs should also be obliged to produce reports.

The consultation also brought to light the essential and strategic role of the position of the City's Ombudsman. The commission believes, along with a large number of participants, that this institution should be reinforced, and recommends that Montréal, among other things, ask the Québec government to enact, in the Montréal Charter, Montréal's obligation to ensure the permanent status of this function.

Lastly, several people asked that the Montréal police and transportation departments' subjection to the Charter be clarified.

The police department is an important player in implementing the Charter. The commission recommends that the police department's subjection to the Charter be clarified by a specific mention concerning it in Article 29 of the Charter. The department should also be included in the list of departments responsible for producing periodic reports.

Moreover, public transit brings into play a number of rights and commitments enacted by the Charter, and notably issues of discrimination, services to vulnerable people, air pollution and road safety. It affects a large number of Montrealers in their everyday lives. The commission shares the concerns of participants who believe that if the values and principles of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities make sense for all the municipal departments it covers, then it also makes sense that it should apply to public transportation, regardless of the fact that the latter is an independent entity from Montréal.

All available information on the project, including the commission's report, may be obtained at the offices of the OCPM, 1550 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1414, and at the Direction du greffe, at City Hall, 275 Notre-Dame Street East. The documentation is also available on the Office Website, at www.ocpm.qc.ca.

SOURCE OFFICE DE CONSULTATION PUBLIQUE DE MONTREAL

For further information:

Luc Doray
514 872-3568
514 977-8365 (Cell.)

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OFFICE DE CONSULTATION PUBLIQUE DE MONTREAL

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