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  • Kate 12:36 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    The recent thaw in US-Cuba relations will affect some things here: a special relationship between Ameublement Elvis and the Cuban régime to sell used appliances there is likely to end; cheap Quebec getaways to a place where prices are not inflated by American tourists are likely also at an end.

    • Blork 12:48 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      On the other hand, maybe the quality of the food will increase at those uncheapening getaways. (I have not been to a Cuban getaway, but from what I hear the food ranges between “awful” and “not very good.” Also, there may be few USers, but there is no shortage of Europeans.)

    • ant6n 13:22 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      So far they are only talking about business and family travel; tourists still won’t be allowed.
      Those Cuban vacations don’t seem that much cheaper than other Caribbean packages – the value is probably very similar.

    • Blork 13:54 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      What is the separation between “family travel” and “tourists?”

    • rue david 14:04 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      i can confirm both that the cuban vacations are the cheapest of the caribbean options (though i’ve seen some late january puerto rico flights at ~$150 r/t over the years) and that the food in cuba is horrifically bad. i’ve been to cuba twice, both times on winter vacations that cost next to nothing. last time i went (february 2012), 5 days air + hotel, the price for a couple was 370 bones, so 185 each. only downside was that i pretty much fasted the entire time because the food was so bad. each meal seemed worse than the next, i actually lost weight even through i was drinking heavily from the moment i woke up. we’re talking pasta that’s basically spaghetti and ketchup, omelets with cuban velveeta on them, entire plates where none of the food has salt. on the airplane back home, i savored every morsel of the airline sandwich and then upon landing we took a taxi straight to the banquise (only thing open) and each of us had a large galvaude to ourselves. brrr.

      by contrast, cuban food in miami is pretty much amazing, so it is possible.

    • Bill Binns 14:10 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      If they do open it up to American tourists, you probably won’t want to visit anyway. I can see Cuba getting turned into a cheaper version of Cabo for drunken American spring breakers really fast. I have never been but really want to get down there before there is a Senor Frogs or a Chili’s on every corner.

  • Kate 12:32 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    A new method for breaking into cars has all the Lestrades of the SPVM puzzled.

  • Kate 12:25 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio-Canada looks at the influence of Romanian Jewish cuisine on Montreal. Link to audio report, and a link to the Mile End Memories website.

  • Kate 11:50 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Emma Czornobaj, the woman who stopped her car to save ducklings and indirectly caused the death of two people on a motorbike, will have to serve 90 days in jail, on weekends, plus some community service and probation. I think the most important penalty may be that she’s also forbidden to drive for ten years. The incident happened on autoroute 10 in Candiac in 2010.

    How will she get to and from jail? Do jails even have prisoner parking?

    • Bill Binns 14:18 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Another victory for the amazing Quebec criminal justice system. She will do more time in jail than Turcotte did for killing his two children with his own hands. All for an innocent (if possibly dumb) mistake.

  • Kate 10:56 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Plateau borough council has voted to support 30 km/h speed limits on its local streets.

  • Kate 10:11 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good: woodworkers in CDN-NDG are using the wood from ash trees cut down because of the emerald ash borer to make city street furniture. Apparently this isn’t dangerous, because the pest lives just under the bark, not inside the heartwood of the tree, and once the lumber is disinfected it’s OK. And we can hope this doesn’t turn out to be a mistake later.

    • Kevin 10:50 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      They do the same thing with wood damaged by pine beetles out west. Some people like the patterns.

  • Kate 09:43 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Wednesday’s sudden sacking of STM DG Carl Desrosiers, a man who’d risen through the ranks to run the transit commission for 2½ years with hardly a word said against him in the media, has some people worried about the consequences of more direct political control over the commission. The various unions are unsettled, too.

    The only contentious issue on Desrosiers’ watch that Philippe Schnobb was able to come up with, when challenged, was that the displacement of litter bins from the platform areas had displeased some passengers. La Presse outlines Desrosiers’ success in increasing the STM’s maintenance productivity without ruffling union feathers, no mean feat.

    All agree that they won’t know what the Coderre administration is up to until they know who’s replacing Desrosiers, sometime in the new year.

    • Dave M 09:56 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Appoint a lackey to antagonize them into striking or other work actions, use that to work up the public against them, take a hardline stance against the union, start privatizing the service and giving contracts to your friends. It’s for your good, because if we don’t do it we’ll have to raise taxes to cover these union inefficiencies.

      Oh, also, we have to raise fares, and cut service anyways, because it’s not profitable enough.

    • Regina Laplante 09:59 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      “The only contentious issue…” Pas vraiment. Ridership is lagging, as recent numbers demonstrate.

    • Kate 10:08 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Not so, Regina Laplante. STM ridership up, funding down video report from Global in September 2014. I could find other reports but ridership is clearly not lagging.

    • carswell 10:19 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      The lack of platform-level trash bins is a pain. That said, their absence may make the stations safer by decreasing the possibility of a prank or terrorist attack.

      If STM bigwigs are getting canned because they instituted unpopular changes, shouldn’t the person who ordered the bus service cuts — the most unpopular of all — be given the boot? And that person wouldn’t be Carl Desrosiers, would it, Mr. Schobb?

    • Regina Laplante 12:36 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Yes ridership is up. Yes ridership is lagging. Totals didn’t rise nearly as much as STM wanted it to or expected it to. The journalists should have mentioned this.

  • Kate 09:26 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    As the Magnotta jury enters its third day of deliberations, the media have taken to putting up retrospectives and filler, like this Journal compendium of soundbites. A French media site talks to Jun Lin’s old boss at the dep on Wellington Street, who’s following the trial but was not called to testify.

  • Kate 09:08 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    This critic really does not like the new MUHC hospital buildings and can’t get any of the architects involved to defend their work either.

  • Kate 08:58 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    The city’s funding some research into using smashed-up wine bottle glass to strengthen concrete for sidewalks and other infrastructural bits.

  • Kate 22:34 on 2014/12/17 Permalink | Reply  

    Guillaume St-Jean has posted an excellent, but in some ways saddening survey of the losses in our built heritage in 2014.

  • Kate 20:49 on 2014/12/17 Permalink | Reply  

    Unusually, Hochelaga’s Saint-Nom-de-Jésus church has reopened after five years lying fallow after being declared unsafe. Not mentioned here is the main reason the church was in the news sporadically over the last few years: its massive Casavant organ, very nearly sold off by the diocese, is presumably still in place.

  • Kate 20:43 on 2014/12/17 Permalink | Reply  

    Plateau retail has been given permission to stay open till 20:00 on weekends, and, going by the wording of this item, this isn’t just a one-shot holiday season exception. The decision was so sudden that some merchants may not be prepared to change their weekend schedules, although given it’s the last weekend before Christmas I imagine most will find a way.

  • Kate 20:39 on 2014/12/17 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio-Canada, which is looking in turn at various major streets, finds that the Plaza St-Hubert is waking out of a low period. I’ve been working casually in a studio close by the street over the last couple of years, and I think they’re right. The vibe is definitely on the upswing, although it’s at the kind of balance now where there’s still room for smaller, older, quirkier businesses to stay afloat. We know from watching the Plateau that if streets get too successful, chain franchises muscle in, drive up rents and drive out all the character.

  • Kate 13:47 on 2014/12/17 Permalink | Reply  

    The Magnotta jury has sent out a question asking whether personality disorder can be considered a mental illness. According to twitter reports just now, defence and Crown agree that personality disorder is a mental illness under the law.

    • Blork 10:13 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      The problem then is that you have to define “mental illness.” Depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc. etc. are all “mental illnesses,” but none of them will get you off a murder charge. As in, none of them equal “not mentally competent” or whatever the terminology is (colloquially, “crazy/insane”).

      From my lay perspective there’s no doubt that Magnotta was/is “mentally ill,” but that’s a separate question from whether or not he was “insane” when he committed the crime.

    • Kate 11:38 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      I tend to agree, but the jury may have been instructed by the judge in such a way that the terminology is important to their deliberations.

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