I personally do not know if there has been two cities more perfectly aligned historically economically and politically for a sister city partnership than Montreal, Canada and Mobile, Alabama. As you may know, sister city partnerships were created after World War II to promote ‘citizen diplomacy’ and to build stronger cultural economic and political ties between cities around the world. While historically, Mobile has been very strategic with its sister city partnerships, like its sister city partnership with Havana Cuba, I think strategically speaking it makes a lot of sense to partner with Montreal, Canada as a sister city.
Historically Mobile and Montreal share a lot of events that have shaped who we are today. First and foremost is our shared heritage as French colonial cities. While Montreal was founded first, Mobile was established in 1701 as the capital of New France (the French colonial territory are on the North American continent) which included Montreal. Like in Mobile, Montreal also had to move its settlement due to weather and geographical conditions and discontent with neighboring Indian tribes. The same treaty that ceded Montreal and the rest of Canada to great Britain after the Seven Years War also ceded Mobile to the British as well, that allowed for mobile to become part of the British colony of West Florida before the American Revolution it was after Canada fell into the hands of Great Britain that Montreal became the capital of British Canada, so being colonial capitals is a historical event that both Mobile and Montreal share.
While it is uncommon to hear French being spoken on the streets of Mobile outside of the Mardi Gras season, unless a native Mobilian is giving directions to somebody (because of our street names) it is not uncommon to hear a laissez Les bon ton roulet thrown out on the streets of Montreal. Almost half of all people in Montreal speak French as their primary language. Because of our shared French foundation, Mobile and Montreal both enjoy the finer aspects of culture, including art, theater, music, and other aspects of cultural society. After Mobile was settled, both Mobile and Montreal fell into the same archdiocese in the Catholic Church while they were both under French control, the Archdiocese of Quebec.
Historically speaking, like Mobile, Montreal built its economy taking advantage of the vast natural resourcs available to it, including timber, wildlife, agriculture, and trade with Native Americans and Indigenous people as well as trade with other French colonies. However, in present-day there is one big economic factor that ties the cities of Mobile and Montreal together. That factor is the fact that Mobile and Montreal are the only two cities in the world that build and assemble the Airbus A220. With the vast investments that Airbus and Bombardier are making in both Montreal and Mobile, coupled with the fact that both cities have a dislike for the Boeing corporation and the fact that once both cities get up to full production rates both cities will be producing 10 + planes a month, a sister city partnership could be very beneficial to both cities’ burgeoning aerospace industries. As a technology Center for Canada, a sister city partnership with Montreal could help Mobile further develop its technology sector in its economy. Also with the fact that one of the railroad companies that operates out of the Alabama State Docks is a Canadian railroad, it wouldn’t be hard to establish a trade link with Montreal if the need arises.
There are many more reasons why it just makes sense for Mobile and Montreal to explore the possibility of a sister city partnership, too many to try and list in this letter, but couple these reasons with the fact that neither Montreal doesn’t have a sister city partnership with any city in the United States and Mobile does not have a sister city partnership with any city in Canada I believe this is an idea worth seriously exploring. I’ve been told by a citizen of Montreal whom I’ve discussed this idea with that if Mobile was to approach Montreal with this idea, they would be very receptive to the idea.
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