Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Rudy Giuliani: Recipe for Montreal

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On Friday, October 25, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at Montreal’s Board of Trade on the eve of the Montreal mayoral election.

The Board of Trade, anticipating the fervor of the final stretch of the campaign for a new mayor, chose to invite Giuliani for his take on how to revive Canada’s second largest city after a year of upheaval in which two mayors were forced out of office and a new election is scheduled for November 3.

Against a backdrop of corruption investigations, crumbling infrastructure and a general feeling of decline, Giuliani’s presence was most welcome.  While the former mayor was careful not to appear smug or condescending, he did outline what he considered to have been the formula for his success in reviving the fortunes of New York City.

Having a vision and a sense of direction for your city is the first major ingredient for success, Giuliani said.  When he took over in the early 90s in New York, the crime rate was high and people were leaving the city.  When he left office shortly after 9-11, crime was down 80 percent and people were coming back to the city.

To measure the progress of a city, Giuliani emphasized the need for both accountability and measurable goals.  He recognized that there were risks in this approach, but said that one should govern as if it is a single mandate and that the population will respect the efforts even if the results are inconclusive.  Transformational governance, says Rudy, requires taking risks even at the prospect of failure and ultimate electoral defeat.Giuliani further emphasized the importance of putting the best people in place.  Sometimes, he admitted, you get it wrong, but you should always search for quality people who will not be afraid to challenge the status quo and even those in authority.

Finally, the former mayor spoke about the importance of cooperating with—and sometimes even confronting—the other levels of government to advance the vision you have of the city.  During most of his term, Giuliani, a Republican, had to work with former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.  According to Giuliani, it is important to make alliances outside of partisan considerations to achieve your goals.  Credit or recognition of success will come in due time.

There is no doubt that Giuliani’s recipe resonated well with his audience.  Montreal’s four principal mayoral candidates were present in the hall—and hopefully, took notes.

In the question-and-answer segment of Giuliani’s appearance, he was asked to comment on the recent U.S. government shutdown, the influence of the Tea Party within the Republican Party, Obama’s policies regarding Afghanistan and Iraq, and whether Giuliani would entertain another presidential run for the Republican nomination.  Suffice it to say that his answers beyond his role as New York City mayor were far less enlightening or revealing. 

It mattered little to his audience, however, as they were there to hear his views on how to run a major city.  In this regard, Giuliani did not disappoint.


John Parisella is the former Québec delegate general in New York and currently a visiting professor at the University of Montréal’s International Relations Center. He is also a Member of the Board of Directors of The Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

Tags: Montreal, New York City, Rudy Giuliani
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