In the late 1970s or even the 80s the New York families weren't that much in decline yet and still very powerful. Their real decline started in the 90s. However, for the Bonannos the 90s were a good time and it wasn't until their entire administration flipped that everything fell apart. Montagna's status meant enough for people to align with him. However Desjardins himself didn't have much to do with the Bonannos at that point and neither did his guys which is why they didn't care for him to be the leader, and when Montagna tried to take out Desjardins it was simply kill or be killed.
You're correct, the American Mafia was still powerful in the 70s/80s but it was in a steady decline. The truth is the American LCN was at its highest peak from the 30s to the 50s, they ran the syndicate like an oiled machine and no other Italian Mob group around the world compared. Then you had significant turning points such as the Apalachin meeting and the Valachi testimony, both of these events were the beginning of the decline. American LE started to catch up and with each decade, their power and influence decreased.
When the American Mafia was at its might, the Mob groups in Italy were very peasant like. That all changed when the Sicilians got their act together and created their own commission in the late 50s. Ironically, it was the Americans that helped them create it and Joe Bonnano of all people was one of the main organizers, from then on (Until they decided to act stupid and take on the Italian government) the Sicilians were on the rise which eventually played into the favor of the Rizzuto family later on.
During the 70s/80s the Montreal Mob was still very much so under the Bonnanos, by the 90s I would argue that they were under the Bonnano banner by name only but were independent and acted as such, they did kick up to them but I feel it was out of respect for Gerlando Sciascia since he was very close to Vito. Once Sciascia was gone, that was the end of it as it was clear that no more envelopes were being sent. Vitale was apparently sent to Montreal to make Vito a capo around 2001, he was received with respect and all but Vito declined the offer, that was a clear message to the Bonnanos that just in case they did not understand the memo back in 1999 (No more envelopes), this offer refusal should make it very clear that their time in Montreal was done.
As for Montagna's status, it was enough to get him a hello and an invitation to the club, but certainly not enough to make him the main power player. If he was gonna play, he should have just chosen a side and stuck with it to the end, instead he approached this as a Bonnano and acted like he wanted to bring them under the Bonnano order. This is why he approached Nicolo Rizzuto first and asked him to step down, when Nick Sr declined, Sal decided to team up with the opposition. He joined up with Desjardins and the other Cotroni loyalists, he also made trips to Hamilton to meet with the Luppino family (Violi brothers). It seems like his Bonnano status got the best of him because he thought he could just get rid of Desjardins and take control of the Cotroni guys, he did not realize that these guys don't care whether you're made or not, they were loyal to their own guys. Desjardins was the brother in law of Joe Di Maulo, he was also very connected to the Hells Angels and had significant power in the city of Montreal, Montagna's support was no where close to such in the city and the fact that there was no retribution made should be clear evidence that the group cared very little for him.
Originally Posted By: Sonny_Black
I'm not sure whether New York still wants to be involved in that powder keg (as Nicaso ones eloquently put it). If the Violis are the instigators, they're able to be so because New York has washed their hands of the city. And they don't have the manpower to take over Montreal themselves and so they have to resort to making alliances with players from within the city, which is obviously the case.
The Violis are not exactly trying to take over Montreal, their base is in Hamilton and I believe they'll continue to advance their power there. They're just heavily involved in taking out the Rizzutos and replacing them with the Cotroni faction. After all not only was their dad killed by the Rizzutos, he was also a top Cotroni guy. Their recent meeting with Frank Cotroni's son along with other signs are an indication of their heavy involvement, it's also obvious that the two sides are very close to one another historically. To extend the picture further I believe the Toronto clans who are the ultimate power today are probably in favor of this since they were always seen as Rizzuto's main indirect rivals, and while I'd say that the Montreal war in itself may not be a Sicilian vs Calabrese thing, when the 'Ndrangheta is involved, I think being a Calabrese may actually mean something, in which all of these guys (Luppinos/Violis and the Cotronis) are, the Musitanos are also Calabrese, but they were Vito's allies, back then this was a great thing, but times have changed and this past alliance may mean trouble for them in the near future.
As far as New York or any other American mafia family goes, their say in the matters or affairs within Canada is none existent. Their only say is in business dealings and ventures with the families of Canada, that's it.