An Interview with Gerald Tremblay
The Mayor of Montreal, Canada
UN Habitat, World Urban Forum 3
Vancouver, Canada, June 21, 2006
By Kathryn Price
June 21, 2006 - www.operationinformation.com
II thought I sent this interview to you but I didn't see it on your website so maybe I didn't. At any rate, below is information on Mayor Gerald Tremblay, my 3rd interview at WUF3 and his association with United Cities and Local Governments. The Mayors Round Table discussion unveiled their newest scheme, the World Bank for Cities. It is not yet something I can even find on the internet but Tremblay talks about it openly and did so also at the Mayors Round Table.God's Blessings to you,Kathryn PriceThis interview with the Mayor of Montreal, Canada, Gerald Tremblay, is the final interview out of a series of three taken while at UN-HABITAT's World Urban Forum 3 in Vancouver, Canada the week of June 19-23, 2006.
Mayor Tremblay is also the Vice President of United Cities and Local Governments of North America. One of the goals of the UCLG is to, "Promote economic, social, cultural, vocational and environmental development and public service based on the principles of good governance, sustainability and social inclusion." (UCLG Mission Statement)
Their website goes on to states that, "United Cities and Local Governments is the result of the unification of three organizations: the World Federation of United Cities (FMCU), the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA) and Metropolis, the international association of major metropolises."
A UCLG meeting of around 3,000 Mayors and local representatives met in Paris, France in May of 2004. The result of this meeting was the birth of the World Congress of United Cities and Local Governments. The outcome of this Congress was the formation and "adoption" of a declaration "setting out key issues and action points for the new global organisation. Written in consultation with its members, the declaration confirms United Cities and Local Government’s intention to work in partnership with the United Nations to meet the Millennium Development Goals."
Below are the "key goals" outlined in the declaration:
Developing a broad, diverse membership, and representatives in every country of the world
Building an effective and formal role for local government as a pillar of the international system
Becoming the source of key information on the situation and the evolution of local government all over the world, through the establishment of a Local Democracy Watch
Organising an action based worldwide Millennium Towns and Cities Campaign within the framework of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals
Developing a Local Agenda 21 of Culture to be presented at the World Urban Forum in September 2004
Working towards the adoption of a World Charter on Local Self-government
Reaffirming the commitments of the Worldwide Declaration on Women in Local Government and putting gender equality at the centre of the agenda of United Cities and Local Governments
Contributing to the preparatory stages of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, 2005), notably through actively participating in the second Local Authorities Summit on the Information Society in Bilbao on 10-11 November 2005
Mayor Tremblay is a charming individual with eloquent speech and the ability to speak in French and English making the transition from one language to another flawlessly in mid sentence. His soft spoken charm and fluidity of speech make him remarkably deceitful as he laid out the plans for the World Bank for Cities at the Mayors Round Table of WUF3.The World Bank for Cities is nothing more than a trap for local governments. In order to get a loan from this bank a city will have to open itself up to a global entity fully, changing any laws necessary to do so, having the proper agenda's in place to make them acceptable for the loan and handing over all information on property owners. Of course, this is all to insure that the city can properly repay their loan. This is for the purpose of further wealth redistribution from wealthy nations to developing nations and ensuring all sustainable development agenda's, via Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals, are met by ALL cities of the world.
Interview with Gerald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal, Canada and Vice President of United Cities and Local Governments
UN HABITAT, World Urban Forum III
June 21, 2006
KEY: KP = Kathryn Price
GT = Mayor Gerald Tremblay
KP – Mayor Tremblay, I’m Kathryn Price of the Tulsa Beacon. Tulsa Oklahoma, USA.
GT – Really, there are a lot of American mayors here. There is the president from the Association of American Mayors, I was just speaking with a mayor that was here and was very happy and you also have a councilor here from Corpus Christi.
KP – I saw that. That’s very close to home. I will have to try and track her down.
GT – You don’t have to track her down, it’s very easy if you come to the reception, I will introduce you to her.
KP – Wonderful, I will try to make it to that.
GT – I will introduce you to another American mayor that can give you feedback.
KP – Wonderful. If you don’t mind, I have a few questions. I think it is fascinating the idea of a World Bank for Cities and I have to say it sounds quite genius. I wanted to know, are you playing an active role in its formation?
GT – Yes, we are, because as members of the United Cities and Local Governments and Metropolis who are all associations we have a responsibility to tell the World Bank this is
a good initiative and I think that the Inter-American Bank has already put in place financing for Municipalities. I think that the Vice President of the World Bank has said that she’s willing to look at that so, next what we have to do is convince – We met with the President of the World Bank and the President of the Inter-American Bank and they are favorable to do that also.
KP – Wonderful so, how many financiers are there that you need?
GT – A lot of local banks also that we are talking to. There is also the Cooperative Movement that we are talking to the Desjardin Movement which is a large cooperative that’s been around for one hundred years that does micro-credit at the local level throughout the cities with a positive outcome. But you know, it’s not just a question about financing, ya know, when you lend to someone you have to have confidence that they will live up to your expectations and that they will repay the loan. It’s a question of credibility and it’s a question of having confidence. What we are doing now is training ourselves in the build up of cities and in the development of cities to give them technical assistance, more credibility and a borrowing power. In that sense we have put into place some indicators and we can monitor the results. And as we move forward doing very concrete projects that are successes they become references. And when they become a reference that means that other banks and the private sector, we can leverage the investment of the public sector by 15.
KP – Wow.
GT – Yes. Duala, in Cameroon, is a city that after 18 months of going through the credit ratings of the major international credit ratings has resulted in borrowing 20 million US for infrastructure programs, so it took them 18 months but it’s the first time. The second loan for 10 million US took them 3 months and now they have a track record. But it’s the first time…they are building credit; they are building credibility to have access to credit. As you do that and you then can borrow again. It is no different to a citizen, a citizen does the same thing, a citizen has a credit card and if you don’t pay back your credit – it is the same thing. It’s difficult because we have to talk about the governments and we have to change the rules, the bylaws, the legislation and we have to make sure that in certain cities – there’s not even accuracy to identify the property owners, and if you can’t collect your taxes then where do you get the money to repay the loans? So, we are going into certain cities where the basic is to identify their property owners, we have to make sure they pay their taxes, then you have to manage the funds publicly, um, not publicly, but in a very rigorous way and then we can really start to accelerate the borrowing of money because you can realize faster something when you borrow money than when you save.
KP – So, have there been any US institutions jump on the boat and want to be a part of this?
GT – There is a US institution for the city of Duala; Duala in Cameroon, yes.
KP – Wonderful. Do you know the name of the institution?
GT – (asking his assistant in French the name of the US institution) Come to the reception and I will introduce you to the Americans you look for. There is also a Perspective, a financial perspective presented by Duala yesterday.
KP – Wonderful, thank you. I also wanted to know, the ability of local governments to be able to go to a World Bank for Cities, would you consider this, the ability of local governments to go to a world entity, the definition of decentralization?
GT – Yes.
KP – Yes?
GT – Yes, because in the past we didn’t exist, we were created by our provincial governments with no, no real international recognition so, the plus is that the World Bank is now starting to lend to cities, never done this before. They were always lending to governments who would lend to cities; we’re doing loans now directly to cities. To have a world municipal bank is something very, very important and ideally, if , um, if it could be co-write by the bank, the bankers and also representatives of the cities where you could put in place the guidelines that would facilitate the loans then that would be perfect. I’m not saying that will happen tomorrow, but I think that is the goal. That’s a goal where we should be heading and we should be looking at.
KP – What cities will be eligible for loans from the bank, does it have to be a certain size or does size matter at all?
GT – I think it’s a question of, is the city properly managed. Is the governance of the city adequate, are the elected representatives, um, do they understand that sometimes they have to modify their legislation, their bylaws, their rules and regulations and is there in place a cash flow, money coming in on a regular basis that will permit the reimbursement of the loan. In that sense there are some cities that couldn’t be eligible and that’s the work that we have to do. That’s why if we twin the cities that don’t have the credibility today, we can help them to have the credibility and put into place; for example, the information systems that will permit them to have the information and to give that information to the bankers, because if they have no information, no follow up, it is very difficult to send them a loan and lend them money.
KP – Are American cities also able to participate in such a program?
GT – They should.
KP – I know right now, small farming communities in the Midwest are dying off even with all the subsidies from the federal government.
GT – They could be eligible, why not.
KP – What type of assets would a community need to leverage for a loan?
GT – Usually the reason they want a loan is because they have a problem with assets. They don’t have the infrastructure, they don’t have the schools, they don’t have the community centers, they don’t have the health centers so, it’s not a question of having a lot of assets, it’s a question of making sure that the loan will be repaid and sometimes it requires the guarantee of the government. But ideally, in an ideal world, if cities could borrow on their own, that would be better. But we’re not there for a lot of cities, no.
KP – The only thing I have to compare this concept to is my own banking experience. I know many times when you have a mortgage loan on your home; your bank can sell your loan to another entity, would that be a possibility with the World Bank for Cities?
GT – Yes, it exists. It exists and there is also a guarantee of these loans from the different banking organizations, that their only responsibility is to guarantee or to share the risk with others. So they do that and call it a banking consortium so, that exists also. Talking about your home, it’s a good investment by the way, because it increases in value. But, um, in this, it is possible in the future, not tomorrow that they will be able to borrow on their credibility without giving assets – just sign, sign on the dotted line.
Then, the Cooperative Movement that I mentioned before, the Desjardins Bank was founded 100 years ago to answer that need and today they have assets of over 120 billion dollars and is owned by the people. The population of Quebec City is 7 million, 5 million people deposit their savings in that institution, which is a co-operative and that institution lends money with guidelines that are not the same, it is not as strict as a traditional bank. It’s a bank for people and now we are talking about a bank for cities.
KP – One more question. Going back to history and our own banking experience, what happens if the bank fails by some horrible catastrophe? What happens to the assets of all those cities?
GT – [pause] I think it’s a political question. You can ask but, uh, I think that is our responsibility. We’re going to invest in a better world. We cannot accept, as individuals, what is happening throughout the world today. Some banks have had problems in the past, essentially, even the major banks, the World Bank, has forgotten loans, and has forgotten interest on loans also. But I think once the money has been invested it’s a question of credibility, you can’t only act on short term you must act medium to long term. If you want to make sure you have the credit the second time, third time, the fourth time, you have to repay your loan. So, this is a major change in attitude, that’s why it’s very important that the people that will be responsible will be accountable, will understand what it is in financing will not only make decisions on the short term. So, it’s a new concept that calls upon a major change in, um, it’s a new paradigm. I’ll summarize as follows: striving for innovation, this is what we do here, trying to find new ideas. Why? For to develop creation because someone has to repay the loans so we have to create more wealth. We have to better share that wealth. Finally, we have to stimulate change, striving for people. So, towards striving for innovation, for wealth creation and, um, distribution, we’re causing change. And when we put all four together, and you really look at the objectives, and you have a medium to long term goal, then it is possible for change.
KP – One last question, it seems like the natural next question, is there any thought in the future, with the success of the World Bank for Cities, that there is a possibility to loan to individuals?
GT – No, that’s not the mission for the bank. When you put in place an institution, it has a mission, and it has to focus on that mission. There is a difference in lending to cities and lending to individuals. There are credit unions that are more equipped in that, and have the human capital that can do that. I think that there are differences when you lend to businesses or you lend to cities. So, if it’s a bank for cities, then it lends to cities and not to, um – and the return would not be the same if you lend to businesses but they must be at least much balanced with the revenues and the expenses, you can’t have deficits
On the right, Vice President of the United Cities and Local Governments and Mayor of Montreal, Gerald Tremblay at the Mayors Roundtable, UN Habitat’s World Urban Forum III, Vancouver, Canada.
 US participants include: Clarence Anthony, Mayor of South Bay, Florida, UCLG Treasurer; Melody Cooper, Council member of Corpus Christi, Texas, chair of NLC International Council, http://www.nlc.org/resources_for_cities/programs___services/international_programs/1644.cfm; Ron Loveridge, Mayor, Riverside, California; Don Rosen, City Commissioner, Sunrise, Florida; Karen T. Levine, Permanent Representative in Nairobi.
 NOTE: I believe Mayor Tremblay misspoke as I have not been able to locate any such association and may have meant the US Conference of Mayors.
 United Cities and Local Governments: http://www.cities-localgovernments.org/uclg/index.asp?pag=template.asp&L=EN&ID=126
 Cooperative Movement and the Desjardin: http://libcom.org/library/co-operative-movement-quebec-canade
 Cameroon, France Sign Central Africa's First Debt-for-Nature Swap: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2006/2006-06-23-03.asp
 WUF3: Decentralisation as a Tool – “UCLG advocates decentralisation processes that develop a democratic system of governance and an adequate basic service provision for, by and with the community. Decentralisation processes should be based on core principles such as subsidiarity, accountability, transparency, equity, citizenship, predictability and the rule of law.
Extract from the draft Guidelines on Decentralisation
B.1.1.“The principle of subsidiarity constitutes the rationale underlying to the process of decentralisation. According to that principle, public responsibilities should be exercised by those elected authorities, which are closest to the citizens.”
Local governments have been working for years towards the international adoption of principles for decentralization, and this work has now culminated in the draft Guidelines on Decentralization.”
 “Mr. Alfred Akibo Betts went abroad to twin Freetown with first world cities. The intention borders on the strategy to transfer development to the city. Twinning with other cities can be the vehicle on which development can reach the city.” http://allafrica.com/stories/200606140989.html
Definition of “twinning cities”: “Town twinning or sister cities is a concept where towns or cities from geographically and politically distinct areas are paired, with the goal of fostering human contact and cultural links. In Europe, such pairs of towns are known as twin towns; in North America and Australasia, the term sister cities is used for the same concept. Twin towns often (though by no means always) have similar demographic and other characteristics…” http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&defl=en&q=define:City+twinning&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title
Sister Cities International: http://www.sister-cities.org/sci/Sustainable/SeedGrant2
Sister City Project, “Tulsa's assistance with the establishment of an American style university in Celle [Germany].”: http://www.tulsaglobalalliance.org/Celle.htm
 Desjardins Main Page: http://www.desjardins.com/en/accueil.jsp ; and “The Desjardins Difference”: http://www.desjardins.com/en/a_propos/profil/difference/conjuguer.jsp
© 2006 by Kathryn Price
Kathryn Price is reporting on behalf of the Tulsa Beacon and Oklahomans For School Accountability researching politics and education and the implications of those findings.
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