In the political arena, the struggle between Populists and Reformists continued and intensified. Reformists attracted French-speaking businessmen to their ranks. In 1909, they obtained a public inquiry into the City’s management. This investigation shed light on the reigning climate of corruption and patronage, rendering citizens more sympathetic to Reformist arguments.
Reformists called for a reduction in the number of councillors and the transfer of certain powers from the Council to a Board of Commissioners elected by the entire population. Voters approved this major reform in a referendum. In 1910, almost all Reformist candidates were elected, ushering in the “rule of honest folks”, an era that would last until 1914. The new administration improved the city’s internal management and reorganized public service, but had difficulty meeting the population’s expectations for road infrastructure and public facilities. Traditional politicians saw their popularity rise again by 1914.
Montréal society had become more diverse, complex and difficult to govern. Inequalities persisted, but actions by reform groups began to bear fruit, giving rise to considerable improvements in living conditions. Montréal now had all the trappings of a lively and dynamic urban centre, where French and British traditions met and mingled with American influence and contributions offered by new immigrants.