When a group of researchers met at McGill University for the first time with the idea of creating a research centre on Montreal, the city was the focus of tremendous attention. Lino Zambito's shocking testimony at the Charbonneau Commission (Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry) suggested that Montreal had reconnected with its oldest demon, corruption, and that a great clean up was urgently needed. Since then, Montrealers have taken control of their city. They shared their ideas and grouped themselves into ecosystems at the Je vois Montréal event (November 17th, 2014); their responses became collective initiatives; and, this citizen movement, supported and encouraged by the city’s administration, the business community and philanthropic organizations, put Montreal back on track. Montreal’s universities, as a nursery of local and international talent, are at the center of technological and social innovation. Such institutions of research and learning must support this collective movement and contribute fully to the revival of the metropolis.
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal wants to contribute to this dynamic by stimulating and bringing together research on Montreal within higher education institutions and by establishing long-term research partnerships with the municipal government, various organizations and associations, groups of citizens, innovative companies, and public and private foundations. In short, CIRM wishes to work with players who desire to make Montreal a city which is humane, prosperous, inclusive, innovative, and resilient. The actions taken by CIRM since its creation in 2014 move in this direction and the projects its researchers are currently working on as well as those on its drawing board—the Montreal Observatory of Social Issues, Experiential Community Engaged Learning and Research, and the collective work of "Vivre Ensemble in Montreal—, conducted in collaboration with local and international partners, seek both to deepen the knowledge we have of Montreal and to advocate action.
Consider for the moment Montreal as a city of immigration, of culture and of literature, as an economic engine of Quebec, a space where languages and cultures meet, where ethnic communities and religions coexist, and as a city which is an administrative headache and poses serious challenges for urban planners and environmentalists. For those who know how to look at it, Montreal is a stimulating laboratory of the Quebec experience. A research centre that studies Montreal in depth and in all its complexity offers Montrealers and Quebecers a tool similar to those urban centres such as Boston, New York, London, Manchester and Brussels. Without taking anything away from the work already carried out by various research centres and groups, CIRM intends to participate in the revitalization of Montreal and to promote public recognition of universities’ contributions to collective prosperity. It will do this by adding resources to stimulate interdisciplinary research and collaborations between researchers and external actors.
I would like to thank all those who have already contributed with their support, advice and work, to set up CIRM: Roger R. Beauchemin, Gretta Chambers, Stephen Huddart, Jacques Ménard, Roderick A. McDonald, Christopher Manfredi, Hudson Meadwell, Marc Weinstein, Louis Arseneault, Jean-François Nadeau, and Priya Ramesh Mehta.
Pascal Brissette, June 2017