McGill Rhetoric Class: Declaration Against Montreal’s Ban on Hotdog Stands (2014–15)

It is rare that a city in the developed world violates the most basic human rights of its citizens. In New York, police officers brazenly employ a policy of “stop and frisk”, which directly targets young black men. In Detroit, a bankrupt municipal government has cut off the water supply to many of its destitute residents. While reprehensible, none of this compares to the tyranny of Montreal’s municipal government. What tyranny you ask? Of course we are referring to the city’s ban on hotdog stands.

For too long, the powers that be have denied the great people of Montreal what is rightfully theirs: the perfect combination of a juicy, slow-cooked piece of meat, placed delicately between a toasted bun. Not only is this combination delicious, it is also a cost-effective meal for our great city’s residents. Should we not be able to satiate ourselves? Should we be forced to endure lesser foods? Should our only exposure to this so-called “street meat” be through the gloating of obnoxious Torontonians and New Yorkers? We think not.

Despite growing pleas from citizens, the leaders of Montreal have failed to enact change. Politicians reference the aesthetically unappealing exterior of hotdogs stands to justify the denial of Montrealers’ basic rights. However, there is a more insidious explanation for this ban. The prohibition on hotdog stands is actually motivated by a desire to protect restaurants from losing business. It is clear, then, that the government has failed in its most central duty: to represent the needs of its citizens. Instead, they have catered to the will of an avaricious minority — a minority intent on profiting off of the misery and despair of Montrealers.

We, the majority, will not stand for such oppression. We hereby proclaim that the government is guilty of the following egregious acts:

  • The government has permitted the existence of food trucks, while maintaining the ban on hotdog stands. Because, of course, hotdog stands are aesthetically unappealing, but purchasing an $8 hamburger from the trunk of a recently-leased 1967 Dodge A100 is not.
  • The government has forced hotdog vendors to endure a life of misery and shame for their profession. Some have been forced to ply their trade in the underground hotdog market for fear of government of reprisals. Others have departed Montreal altogether in search of a city that grants their work the respect it deserves.
  • Egregiously, our tax money has funded a series of absurd food-related initiatives. For instance, McGill University, a publicly funded institution, employed taxpayer money to create the world’s largest fruit salad. Thus, rather than accommodating the needs of its citizens, the government of Montreal prefers to satisfy the bizarre desires of the city’s educated elite.
  • Additionally, the government has been totally unresponsive to the needs of vegetarians. While many (rightfully) believe that vegetarian hotdogs taste like rubber, vegetarians have been denied the opportunity to enjoy their “veggie-dogs” in the city. This overt denial of vegetarians’ rights cannot stand.
  • Finally, the city is intentionally foregoing revenue to avoid angering restaurant owners. Given Montreal’s reputation as a city where people come to enjoy our vibrant nightlife by “popping bottles”, and engaging in all forms of tomfoolery, it only seems logical that hotdog stands would easily be able to attract late night customers.

You may be asking yourself the question: why do we care so much? The answer is simple. We are motivated by a desire for equality, a desire for fair treatment, but most importantly, a deep, burning hunger for cooked pork.

Citizens of Montreal: the time for passivity is over. For too long we have waited for the government to do the right thing. It has been become clear that justice will only prevail if we take a stand. We must present a united front. We must collectively select a mayoral candidate who advocates for the rights of Montrealers. We must boycott all food trucks, and eschew elitist institutions such as McGill. We must rally against the economic elite who have been so keen to suppress our interests. Crucially, we must implore Montreal’s valiant hotdog vendors not to give up the fight. If we adopt these forms of action, we will succeed, and Montreal will be free of the tyranny that has been imposed upon it.

It was John F. Kennedy who opined that “the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” His words have never been more appropriate than now. We call upon you, citizens of Montreal, to act. Act to protect our freedom of choice. Act to protect our right to savoury food. Most importantly, act so that future generations of Montrealers won’t have to.