RIL Involvment

Regroupement Information Logement and Political Parties

This section seeks to explore the relationship between the Regroupement Information Logement and political parties on all three levels of government. In many ways, the narrative of the Regroupement Information Logement can be told within the framework of Politics, that is which political parties were in power and what their agendas were; therefore, given the nature of PROJET St-Charles, the success of the RIL depended in many ways on dynamics of the municipal, provincial and even federal government. The formation, failures and successes of the PROJET St-Charles were significantly shaped by the political parties in power at all three levels of government. While the RIL depended on the governments for the success of the PROJET St-Charles, the RIL in turn had some influence on the political parties in government and prospective governments–at least on a local level (that is the federal MP, provincial MNA and municipal councillors).

The formation of the RIL and the PROJET St-Charles were in response to the dynamics of governments—both as backlash and encouragement. The formation of the coop housing groups such as the RIL were largely in response to the so-called “mega projects” that we’re common under Mayor Drapeau and the civic party’s reign in the 1960s and 1970s. That is, the residents of Pointe St-Charles saw the effects of the project in other post-industrial suburbs of Montreal—particularly the near complete destruction of Goose Village and Little Burgundy. Groups like the RIL were formed as a means of protecting citizens and neighbourhoods of projects like that. Moreover, the need for coop housing, as demanded in the PROJECT St-Charles, was a response to the Drapeau government programmes such as the ‘operation 10,000 logements’ and the ‘programme d’intervention dans les quartier anciens’. These government projects sought to reinvigorate old neighbourhoods and create more liveable dwellings to attract people from the suburbs to the city. PROJET St-Charles was a response to this in that the RIL feared that these programmes would result in speculation and an increase of rent costs and they felt that the creation of coop housing would protect underprivileged the people of the neighbourhood. Furthermore, we can attribute the creation of the group to the amendment of the national housing act in 1973 by the Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa which encouraged the creation of coop housing development and also to the Parti Québécois who supported the creation of social housing in their first mandate; such programmes created incentives for groups like the RIL to form and to create projects aimed at creating coop housing such as the PROJET St-Charles.#Vicker2013 Therefore we can conclude that the formation of the RIL and their PROJET St-Charles was in response to the dynamics of government on all three level—either in contrast to government projects, or through encouragement of government projects.

The governments also influenced failure of the project, in that there was not much advancement in the project when housing funding was cut. Considering, the coop housing movement emerged from the “new left” ideology in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s.#Vickers2013 We would therefore expect the RIL to be natural allies with left-leaning parties in government. This can be argues true to some extent, in that we generally see better relationships with the Parti Québécois provincially, and the Liberal Party, federally. We also see an antagonist relationship develop the Québec Liberal Party and to an extent the Progressive Conservatives. For instance, we know that the RIL was involved in a protest against the Bourassa government in February of 1988, for their decision to reform funding for social programmes that would affect social housing and social assistance.#Arch.05.24 However, the story is not so dichotomous in that we see some tensions between left leaning parties and the RIL as well. The Montreal Citizens Movement, who openly supported the PROJET St. Charles before election in 1986 #Arch.05.23.86, also came into conflict with the RIL for not supporting their election promise. #Arch.05.23.88 In all, the failures of the project were sustained under left leaning governments such as the Parti Québécois, who lost the election in 1985; and success was met under the Québec Liberal Party, which at times the RIL had an antagonistic relationship with.

By the late 1980s the RIL had some success with the PROJET St-Charles. Considering the goal of the PROJET St-Charles, the government support was a significant factor in the success of the project. For instance, the RIL would first have to negotiate with the municipal government for access to building and lands for dwelling. Also, the RIL needed to secure funding under Federal and Provincial housing programmes to renovate old buildings and maintain coop housing. For this reason, the RIL was had much correspondence between the parties in power and even the opposition, the nature of which was to secure lands and funding and to have the political actor pledge support for the project.#Arch.05.20 #Arch.05.189 By 1988, we see that there was some success in securing buildings for their ‘La maison du renconfort’ #Arch.05.52.a and ‘Clair de lune’ #Arch.05.52.b housing projects. By 1996, 40% of housing in Pointe St-Charles was coop housing, meaning that the goal of the PROJET St-Charles of 500 housing units had been passed.

That is not to say that the success can be attributed in whole to the governments. The RIL worked hard to garner support for their movement, and in this way they also influenced the government, on a local level. The RIL often produce petitions to be signed by members of the community and local business, addressed to people in power, with the goal of getting them to pledge support. These petitions would often ask governments to maintain funding for coop housing. #Arch.05.82 Similarly, forms were made during elections, to be signed by candidates, who would pledge their support for the project. At the same time, if a public person crossed the RIL, they would usually involve themselves in protest against that person. The minister responsible for housing, André Bourbeau proposed cuts in funding for housing programmes and caused quite a controversy. The RIL in turn demanded his resignation and this eventually led to protests against the whole party. #Arch.05.26 Therefore we can see how not only politics influences the formation, failures and successes of the RIL, but also how the RIL in turned was able to influence politics.