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  • Kate 13:37 on 2014/11/22 Permalink | Reply  

    Guillaume St-Jean looks at the end of the Negro Community Center as, Sud-Ouest borough’s final attempt to save it having failed, demolition began this week. More and more. The building had not been used for twenty years but reports make it clear the demolition is still felt as a loss.

  • Kate 08:47 on 2014/11/22 Permalink | Reply  

    A high-speed car crash killed two young people and injured three more early Saturday in Montreal East when the vehicle hit a tree and then a house. The Canoe link plays video – in fact, when I looked at it, it began by showing a car commercial with the vehicle going at top speed.

  • Kate 08:44 on 2014/11/22 Permalink | Reply  

    Nearly a third of the city’s elected officials pull down more than $100,000 yearly for their jobs, up to the mayor’s salary of $176,787. Some executive committee members see as much as $160,684. The Journal item lists the top earniers in large numbers on red bars at the bottom of the article, La Presse in a more sober table on gray.

    • Bill Binns 12:28 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      As weird as it sounds, I think most politicians are under-paid. A job’s salary should be in line with it’s responsibilities and the amount of skill required to carry it out. If Coderre was working in the corporate world, managing thousands of employees and a budget of five Billion he would easily be making 750K – 2 million. It’s because we don’t want to pay what the job is worth that we end up with politicians who want the job for reasons other than making an honest living…lust for power, corruption, narcissim etc.

    • Kate 13:01 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      But narcissism works for this. Denis Coderre probably enjoys his money, but I bet he’s really in it for being Mr. Big, the guy everyone defers to and whose hand they want to shake. And he’s not directly doing the management – he makes a few key decisions and all the lackeys carry them out. Being a big financial or industrial magnate would only deliver a fraction of the personal whammy of being mayor of a big city.

    • Bill Binns 14:12 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      @Kate – A mayor of a major city like ours is in frequent contact with the 1%. This must be frustrating for someone making what Coderre makes. 176K sounds like a lot but there is a much bigger income disparity between Coderre and the Bronfmans than there is between me and the kids living in Berri Square. This isn’t a good situation for someone with some measure of control over billions of dollars of public money. Mr Mayor’s Three Hundred Thousand Dollar cocktail tent on the roof of city hall is a visible symptom of this problem.

    • No\Deli 15:20 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      Not to take away from your point, Bill, but Charles Bronfman (who ranks low in the lists of billionaires, actually) lives in New York.

      Some cheesemaker is the richest guy in town.

    • owl 15:48 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      I agree with Kate – the biggest payoff for most politicians is the personal whammy, not the cash. Most Montreal politicians are WAY overpaid and there are WAY too many of them.

      In Ottawa we only have ONE mayor at $164K and 23 councillors at about $100K each and that’s still WAY too much to spend on developer-financed slick willys. Especially since each councillor gets TWO free posh offices AND a $250K annual office budget to permanent-campaign and use as a gigantic slush fund.

      Some people in Ottawa sneer at Montreal for its corruption – what they don’t realize is that things are almost as bad here, with organized crime dipping its peak and developers buying politicians to get more roads for exurban sprawl.

      Wish we had something like Projet Montreal in Ottawa.

    • Joe 17:26 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      “Some cheesemaker is the richest guy in town.”

      More like some guy who manufactures a “cheese product”.

    • TC 01:40 on 2014/11/23 Permalink

      The salaries of elected officials seem too high to most of their constituents, and are far lower than what their private sector compatriots make for what are similar responsibilities, at least on paper. It’s always an easy story for any media outlet.

      Being mayor of a major city is a tough job. It is 24/7, lots of scrutiny, people really expect you to deliver. People yell at you. You get blamed for stuff you have no control over. You have to contend with a city council, bureaucrats and politicians at other levels of government that have other priorities and may try to thwart you. And every four years, you face an election. I don’t begrudge them their pay.

      @Kate: Sure, politicians are motivated by emotions. Is that so bad? Which emotions predominate vary by the individual, and I’m sure survival is the dominant one come election time, but who doesn’t want to not lose their job? Emotions drive what jobs people seek and how they behave in the private sector as well. Does any impulse cause more harm than greed, in any sector?

      @Bill: Is the mayor under-paid, or are the sort-of equivalents paid too much? What if CEO’s had to face a vote of their staff and customers, not only shareholders, on their pay and keeping their job? Would a bigger paycheck get better politicians? It might just attract more of the people who are in it just for the money.

      People seek public office for good reasons as well. We should not be so cynical.

  • Kate 08:36 on 2014/11/22 Permalink | Reply  

    Ste-Catherine Street will be closed Saturday as the Santa Claus parade begins at 11:00 and inches west from Fort to St-Urbain by 14:00.

    Update: Santa is looking decidedly trimmer these days.

    • denpanosekai 11:41 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      AKA best time to go to PA ;)

  • Kate 18:09 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    Inspector-General Denis Gallant wants the city to cancel the contract with Acertys to do studies on how to improve Ste-Catherine Street. I admit I’m a little vague on the problem Gallant sees here, but it’s something to do with how the same firm was involved in preparing the ground for bidding on the project.

    You know, as I recall, the city started pushing away its own workers and giving more work to the private sector after the last round of labour strife with its unions, a move that also fit well with the fashion for neoliberal worship for private vs. public works. Now just suppose Denis Coderre knows this, and knows that if he maintains a “strong arm” against the unions that he can rebuild support for lots of contracting out. The city has been bleeding expertise for years and this means Coderre’s not interested in reversing that, despite his elephantine trumpeting against corruption, so we’ll inevitably get more situations where the same firms are able to craft the tender for bids and bid on it themselves (or pass it to friends, in a scratch-my-back scenario). With plenty of greased palms all around, and manufactured consent for the public, we’ll be back from “scandal to indifference” in time for 2017!

  • Kate 16:02 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    The dropping of rape charges against three onetime McGill football team members is evoking a stir of responses: a woman who allegedly underwent a similar experience in the 1980s and also saw charges dropped is speaking up, the woman from the alleged 2011 incident was interviewed by Global.

    I am writing “alleged” because it’s legally necessary, as these accusations have never been judicially tested or proven, but it doesn’t mean I personally doubt that high-status young men are sometimes protected by their university and/or by influential family members in cases like this. You can’t be on Twitter or Facebook these days without encountering discussions of rape culture. A recent piece in Rolling Stone describes similar incidents on an American campus and Macleans recently ran a piece about Canadian universities’ shiftiness in facing the phenomenon on their own campuses.

    • H. John 19:22 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      I’m not sure this post is fair.

      A comparison of a 1980’s case with the more recent one ignores how much the process has changed, and how the police, and crown prosecutors have tried to improve the process.

      It’s worth listening to one of the defence lawyers, Debora De Thomasis, who explains why the crown halted the proceeding (in French on Paul Arcand):

      As well, neither of the cases you mention are within McGill’s jurisdiction since neither happened on campus.

    • Kate 20:26 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      Thank you, H. John.

      Update. I listened to the clip. (You have to follow H. John’s link, then pull the calendar tab down to Tuesday, November 18 and scroll down to find it.)

      I take the point about the treatment of rape victims (or, to be utterly fair, those claiming to be victims of rape) having improved a lot in recent years, but the rest of the story – digging up an old roommate who claims, years after the fact, that the alleged victim didn’t sound like she had been the victim of aggression, is pretty weak. Yes, the prosecutor can probably reasonably say that there’s very little point of proceeding with the case, there’s no objective evidence on the woman’s side – I can see that – and I can also see that McGill is not directly to blame, but this story echoes too strongly the many stories coming out about the leverage used by men to exploit women, and the ways in which institutions can close ranks to protect the men, for me to say “OK, case closed, she consented” without any second thoughts.

      Even the woman herself not being clear what happened to her is typical of some kinds of sexual assault. Part of the nature of this kind of attack is that the victim can be so undermined by the situation that she isn’t sure when or whether the question of her consent was settled, and it’s one reason why cases like this so seldom come to judgement.

  • Kate 10:37 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    A man was found dead in a gory scene in Verdun and police find it suspicious. Might be homicide #23. Kristian thinks so on Coolopolis.

  • Kate 10:36 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    Tourisme Montréal has plans to attract more French tourists. They don’t say exactly why this market, which only represents 2.8% of our visitors, is so important (except to “consolider la francophonie”) but at least they realize dimly that for most Europeans what North America represents is outdoorsy stuff. Trying to get the French to come here for the culture and the food is a mug’s game.

    • Ephraim 12:26 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      I wonder where they get that 2.8% number, because it’s WAY more than that for me. Or maybe it’s because the American market includes the businesses men and they don’t know how to separate tourists from business travellers.

    • Steve Quilliam 12:37 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      Simply because it’s a natural market. There’s already plenty of direct flight from Montréal to numerous french cities, it’s the same language, we have great outdoors that fascinates the french and we already have many french students here therefor it’s only normal, business Wise, to target that market.

      But, they also wish to improve the ”british”, ”Tcheq” and Turquish” market. So I think it is only a good thing.

    • Bill Binns 13:42 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      I’m not entirely sure what about Montreal as a city would attract French tourists, most of whom live a cheap train ride from Paris. Maybe older unilingual francophones who only visit francophone destinations? Montreal (or Quebec) would be their only choice in N America unless you count New Orleans (which you shouldn’t).

    • Blork 14:12 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      Bill Binns, as Kate suggested, they’re attracted by the out-doorsy stuff. But it’s not like they’re going to fly from Paris to Abitibi. Instead, they fly to Montreal, which they use as a base while taking short trips to the Laurentians or whatever.

      Another thing that might attract French tourists is the (relatively) cheap real estate and rents, and the (relative) abundance of jobs that you don’t have to have long-standing tribal connections to obtain. I’m actually serious; I’ll bet a lot of young French people come here as tourists in summer with the idea of sniffing around to see if they want to come here to live and work.

    • ant6n 14:41 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      I think we’ve this discussion before but .. what out-doorsy things are there to do here? Maybe skiing?
      In Europe there are footpaths and bicycle paths criss-crossing the whole continent. Tourist infrastructure for people who like kayaking, canoeing, sailing is much more developed there. And you can reach almost anywhere by rail.
      Here you basically only have Highways. And next to those highways is mostly destroyed forests, used by the forest industry (it’s not so noticeable cuz they leave a strip of forest so you won’t see how scarred the land is).
      Land can not be crossed unless by car. There are a few national parks; which are small in comparison, and accessing those bits of naturalness is all by fee.

      I’ve considered trying to do the Petit-train-du-Nord by bicycle (out-doorsy Laurentian thing), but getting oneself out there from Montreal with a bunch of bicycles seems like an abysmal experience (boxing up bicycles and take the bus, wtf?)
      I don’t see anybody travelling all the way from France wanting to put up with shit like that.
      Also, wtf is there to do in Abitibi?

      No. If I want to do out-doorsy stuff, I go back to Europe.

    • Bill Binns 15:01 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      @Blork – Maybe, but if they are just landing at Dorval and jumping into a rental car to drive to Tremblant or somewhere, then they aren’t really Montreal tourists.

      @ant6n For once, I agree with you. I always go to Vermont, NY or NH to do outdoorsy stuff like camping or hiking. I have done a ton of driving through Quebec (recently made a trip to Rouyn-Noranda) and the countryside is pretty much as you describe it. Roads cutting through what appears to be wilderness but very few opportunities to stop the car an experience anything.

    • Beeg 15:04 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      Um, they want to visit all their relatives in the Plateau…

    • Blork 15:05 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      OK, everbody shut up. Beeg wins.

    • Kate 15:05 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      Yep, he does.

    • yossarian 17:15 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      In the past there has been quite a bit of European tourism around their romanticized notions of native culture, as well as snowmobile riding out in the winter wonderland of the Quebec boondocks, of which we have plenty. Source: Gaspesien tourism officials.

      If I had plenty of surplus cash, I would do the three/five-day snowmobile tour of the charlevoix and saguenay region. This is a bucket list type once-in-a-lifetime trip. Laugh if you want, but snowmobile is a good way to see an aspect of winter Quebec that no one else can see. I strongly prefer human-powered recreation, but just once….

    • Kate 18:13 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      ant6n: yes, I’ve mentioned it before, and I realize you’re right. Europe is so much more densely settled, it’s an entirely different kind of terrain. Nonetheless, why would someone come from Europe for Quebec’s museums, cafés, cuisine? What do we have here that they do not? You can package up the “wild open spaces” for starters, even if (as you say) they’re not all that.

      Here’s the previous discussion on this subject.

    • Ant6n 22:33 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      So different folks who visited from back home did like Montreal for the city itself. They tended to combine going to Montreal with going to NYC and/or going to Toronto/Niagara. They generally found Montreal interesting, with a strange mixture of 60s/70s brutalism and modernism, and the more urban culture/food/hipsterism/bixi you’ll find around the Plateau for example. Maybe throw in a day-trip to Quebec city for that strange almost Disney-like experience of old-Europe in North America.
      Also consider that for example French and Germans have a lot more vacation days, and I think they also spend more on travelling. They can visit for a couple of days without it being the major vacation for that particular year.

  • Kate 10:31 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    Philippe Schnobb says his first year at the helm of the STM was tough but now he’s got it scoped out.

    • carswell 11:44 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      His accomplishments according to him:

      • bringing cellphone service to the metro, i.e. claiming credit for an initiative that has been driven by the cellphone industry and that a significant percentage of riders object to;
      • instituting weekly meet-and-greets in metro stations that means at the end of each week he can go to STM departments with a list of 25 question (questions!). Oh and by the way, he’s shocked that STM users complain so much;
      • convincing Coderre to declare 2015 the year of public transit (woo-hoo!).

      Plans for the future?

      • make sure users understand what’s happening in the system (e.g. putting up signs to explain why work, even minor work, is being done in metro stations);
      • restore buses to their former lustre, specifically by adding reserved lanes (no mention of making them cleaner, more comfortable, less crowded, more frequent);
      • encouraging people to use the bus by developing “even more interesting routes,” whatever that means.

      That’s it, that’s all. The guy’s a joke.

    • carswell 11:46 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      Arrgh. Forgot about the dash gobbling feature. Sorry to bug you, Kate, but could you insert a bullet of some sort before the items in the list?

    • Kate 15:07 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      I think I’ve done it correctly.

      As far as I know, there are usually signs explaining work in the metro – Jean-Talon had explanatory signs when they rebuilt one of its edicules earlier this year, for example, and I’ve seen signs when escalators were being replaced. Certainly anything involving temporary closure of an exit gets some kind of sign explaining what’s going on. Not really new.

    • carswell 15:00 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      Thanks, Kate. Looks far better than the original would have.

      Another thought: In the interviews I’ve heard (CBC, Radio-Canada) and read (a typical example being the 24H piece you linked to above), Schnobb has always gotten the kid glove treatment, with the interviewers mostly lobbing softballs and rarely if ever asking difficult or potentially embarrassing questions (e.g. How can your appointment be seen as anything other than political patronage? Why are you so unwilling to rock the boat, even to the extent of vigorously justifying STM executive pay bonuses in a year marked by service cutbacks? Do you understand why some people view your list of accomplishments and plans as laughable?). Could it be because Schnobb is a former colleague of theirs?

    • Kate 16:34 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      Interesting question. Do they also go easier on Bernard Drainville, Alex Norris, Anne Lagacé Dowson? Quebec has a long history of journalists turning politician – René Lévesque started out in the trade, Henri Bourassa was both politician and newspaper publisher. But the answer still may be yes.

    • carswell 17:13 on 2014/11/22 Permalink

      Good point. Let’s note, however, that, though once a candidate, Schnobb is an appointee, an agency head, not a politician.

  • Kate 10:28 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    November 26 is the day of the planned grand dérangement, but Mayor Coderre plans to present his new budget nonetheless.

  • Kate 09:56 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    Firefighters are to hold a demonstration late Friday morning in support of colleagues suspended or fired because of the August demonstration at city hall. They’ll be doing this at the fire headquarters on the Park Avenue side of Mount Royal. (Link plays video.)

    Update: The protest took place and is described here (again with the video autoplay).

    • Steph 10:02 on 2014/11/21 Permalink


  • Kate 00:42 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    In the Magnotta trial on Thursday, the jury was allowed to submit three questions to defence witness Dr. Joel Watts. This was the final defence witness, and the trial resumes Monday with rebuttal witnesses.

  • Kate 00:35 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    Reader Tim S. linked this story in a comment earlier, but it needs a post: a pedestrian crossing on the green light was killed by a turning truck Thursday afternoon in St-Léonard. As in similar deaths in recent years, the truck driver’s blind spot is being blamed.

  • Kate 00:30 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    Yet another vintage school building – this one in Rosemont – has been shut because of poor air quality and students are being displaced for two to three years. And yet the article goes on to say that personnel in this school have been fine and that the city’s public health bureau is not involved. How serious can the situation really be?

    I wonder how much damage is done to kids unsettled by the move, vs. any damage done by “bad air” – and I wonder who’s profiting from all this.

    • Chris 00:32 on 2014/11/21 Permalink

      I bet many regular workplaces and other buildings have the same problem, just that schools are tested better (because OMG think of the children).

  • Kate 00:26 on 2014/11/21 Permalink | Reply  

    Former cop Alfredo Munoz, who runs a ticket-fighting business, lists the city’s top ten ticketing traps, although some are pretty large descriptions like “Highways 640 and 440″.

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