Updates from December, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 22:15 on 2011/12/26 Permalink | Reply  

    No surprise here: Boxing Day sales were a big deal in Montreal, throughout Quebec and across Canada.

  • Kate 21:28 on 2011/12/26 Permalink | Reply  

    Sounds like some blustery weather may be in the offing for Montreal and area starting Tuesday night. Weather page is talking about 15 cm of snow.

  • Kate 12:39 on 2011/12/26 Permalink | Reply  

    A pizzeria on north end Charleroi Street was firebombed Christmas evening. There was damage done but nobody got hurt.

  • Kate 16:34 on 2011/12/25 Permalink | Reply  

    Montreal got its white Christmas but it has caused some driving grief all over southern Quebec.

  • Kate 14:22 on 2011/12/24 Permalink | Reply  

    Possibly useful list of what’s open and closed over the holidays.

  • Kate 11:08 on 2011/12/24 Permalink | Reply  

    Quel Avenir ponders what present to give Montreal for Christmas.

  • Kate 10:32 on 2011/12/24 Permalink | Reply  

    Fagstein has a complete guide to transit over the holidays for multiple transit commissions.

  • Kate 09:50 on 2011/12/24 Permalink | Reply  

    Le Devoir’s personality of the year is the Indigné.

  • Kate 13:43 on 2011/12/23 Permalink | Reply  

    Ingrid Peritz interviews a man who keeps Quebec’s church bells ringing. Quebec has 80% of Canada’s church bells.

  • Kate 22:02 on 2011/12/22 Permalink | Reply  

    Friday morning I’ll be leaving on an eight-day Christmas trip to another continent. I’ll have internet access and will continue updating the blog, but maybe not quite as regularly as I normally do. On the other hand, news is usually pretty low-key over the holidays so unless some unexpected crisis occurs, we should be good.

    Merry Christmas and/or happy generic holidays!

    • Clément 22:06 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Kate, you know we all love your blog, but you certainly deserve a break. I have rarely seen a blog being updated so often and so regularly.
      No one here will be offended if you take a truly deserved vacation. Take some real time off!

      Merry Christmas to you too.

    • Alex L 22:08 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Je suis d’accord avec Clément. Prends du repos!

      Joyeux Noël et passe de belles vacances.

    • Ian 22:21 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Have fun, leaving Montreal is the best because you get to fall in love with it again when you come back. xo & happy festive season of festivity!

    • Marc 23:04 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Merry Christmas. Take some well-deserved time off!

    • Blork 00:05 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Fijne feestdagen, en hebben een mooie reis!

    • JaneyB 09:06 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Definitely take some real time off and don’t worry about the blog/Montreal. You’re plenty dedicated the rest of the year! Enjoy your vacation and btw, thanks for the great blog!

    • Jack 14:10 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Kate have a great holiday! Your blog is superb.

    • Hervé 15:38 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Bonnes vacances! Joyeux noël, et merci pour ce blog dont je ne saurais me passer!

    • dwgs 16:00 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      What Blork said.

    • Robert H 19:49 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Bon séjour! Vous méritez la détente. À la prochaine…année!

      *Quel que soit Blork a dit.

    • MB 19:57 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Merry holiday-making Kate! My favorite bookmark!

    • Doobious 20:54 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Bon voyage, Kate. And bonne année.

      That last sentiment applies to all who hang around this here internet coffee pot.

    • James 10:09 on 2011/12/24 Permalink

      happy holidays to kate and all the commenters!

    • ant6n 11:05 on 2011/12/24 Permalink

      Frohes Fest.

    • Janet 12:18 on 2011/12/24 Permalink

      Merry Christmas, Kate! And thanks for the year-long gift of your blog. It clears my head every morning and keeps me plugged into my city even when I’m away.

    • qatzelok 00:00 on 2011/12/26 Permalink

      Have a great trip!

    • Alexandre 02:24 on 2011/12/26 Permalink

      Prends le temps de te reposer. Montréal et nous tous t’attendrons à ton retour avec plaisir.

    • Kate 12:34 on 2011/12/26 Permalink

      Thanks everybody, merci tout le monde!

  • Kate 21:44 on 2011/12/22 Permalink | Reply  

    Quel Avenir ponders the fallout from the unexpected closure of the Lafontaine tunnel with Thursday morning’s chaos and some of the solutions: the Jacques-Cartier will have three lanes open southbound on Friday morning, there are longer hours southbound on the Victoria as well, and more metro trains on the yellow line.

  • Kate 21:20 on 2011/12/22 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has reached a tentative deal with its firefighters that will hold till 2017 if the union votes in its favour.

  • Kate 14:09 on 2011/12/22 Permalink | Reply  

    Nationalist groups plan to hold a protest against the choice of a unilingual coach at the Bell Centre at a Canadiens home game January 7.

    However, they can rejoice that the RAMQ, Quebec’s medical insurance authority, is soon going to refuse to communicate with any new immigrants in English even if they have trouble understanding French. (That’ll teach them! Unless they die first.) …To be consistent, they should take down their English-language website too.

    • Louis 14:43 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      The RAMQ will stop communicating in English after 1 year according to Radio-Canada. And there will still be a procedure to extend this. So it is not as straightforward as you put it.

      Also, as much as I dislike Montréal Français, it is a bit tendentious to make a link between the two stories, and suggesting that they will “rejoice” this decision even if it cause people’s death.

    • Ian 15:51 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Thanks, Louis.

    • Anto 15:58 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      I was going to agree with you Kate, but then I read:
      ” Les communications passeront alors au français, à moins d’une demande expresse du client.”
      So unless I’m missing something, if they ask for english they will still get it?

    • Kate 16:17 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Louis, says here that English would stop “le 30 janvier prochain” which I took to mean 2012.

      Will anyone tell these newcomers they have the option to make a specific personal request for English?

      (Also, as a footnote, why do we even have any newcomers who don’t speak French but can somehow manage English? Isn’t the ability to speak French requirement #1 for coming to Quebec?)

      So. A month or so ago I was at a walk-in clinic in Villeray for a minor physical problem. I spoke with everyone there in French, including the doctor, so this isn’t about me. But I did have to wait for several hours, and in that time, I overheard a couple coming into the clinic and speaking to the receptionist in English.

      The man mostly spoke, in a heavy accent I didn’t recognize. His wife had missed an appointment and they were distraught. The clinic had left them a voicemail in French which they hadn’t understood and he was begging the receptionist to please let them know about future appointments in English.

      To which the receptionist said coldly, “Our first priority here is to make sure people speak French.”

      If I had had any balls, I would’ve gone and faced down the receptionist and told him just as coldly that I expected the clinic’s first priority to be people’s health and well-being, but I didn’t. I just wanted to get seen and get out of there. But I have regretted it since.

      That’s why this story irked me more than it probably should’ve done.

    • Marc 16:19 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      The way it’s going, the next thing to be banned is all English media including those on the ‘net. But it’s okay because that will keep the hardliners from demanding a referendum and therefore keep Canada together.

    • Alex L 20:51 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      I mostly agree with you Kate, but here I think you are overreacting. There are many languages in this world; would you expect a receptionist in Madrid to speak arabic? I don’t think so; even if there are lots of arabic-speaking people that have been living there for generations. If you live in germany, you can ask to be served in english, for example, but if they say they can’t do it, what do you do, get angry? call the police?

      There has to be a working language everywhere and in Québec, for better or for worst, it is french. You can’t expect people here to always be bilingual or trilingual, even if the majority is, which is already something. Living in Québec and not speaking a word of french is clearly a lack of respect for the population, punto. No matter where you come from.

      That said, if you ask politely, most people won’t react like that receptionist and will serve you in english or even spanish or arabic if they can. The problem is this is considered as a right even if it is clearly a privilege, something you’ll rarely get in any other province.

      What would a receptionist do if i said the same about demanding to be served in french in Toronto?

    • jeather 20:52 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      I understand French well enough to get along in any business context, and with friends, but I would be at a complete loss if I had to explain symptoms in French. (This has led, more than once, to a nurse asking me questions in French and me answering in English.) I can easily imagine an immigrant whose French is good enough to live here for most issues, but not for medical information.

    • Kate 21:16 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Alex L: The receptionist could speak English. What I hear is “I can speak English but I have the right not to do so, even if it endangers your well-being.”

      Most places I’ve been, if someone can possibly manage to communicate, even in a language they don’t know well, they often make the effort to do it. It is normal human consideration to try to help.

      Another brief anecdote: the other day an old man came up to me on my street, with an address written on a bit of paper. The address would’ve been nearby if it existed, but there’s no house or flat with that number. It transpired he didn’t speak English or French, only Spanish, and I flailed trying to explain to him: “El adresso no existaran!” I can understand Spanish fairly well if I’m reading it, and even if I’m hearing it, but when I open my mouth what comes out is a garbled mixture of French with some bits of Italian (not that I properly know Italian either, you understand).

      Over the last few months I’ve also found myself discussing backyard gardening in Spanish (“Si bella, la votre jardin, les floritas!”) and an elderly neighbour’s health problems in Portuguese (hopeless, reduced to tsk-tsking). See, I feel it’s my shortcoming that I can’t make a better showing in their languages. I almost wish I could blame them for not knowing English (or French) but I can’t put myself in that frame of mind.

    • Alex L 21:57 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Totally understand your point. That receptionist was clearly not in her right to do what she did. But it doesn’t excuse the man for not trying to speak french.

      I am francophone and can speak very good english and spanish and I have knowledge of arabic and mayan. Half of my roommates are anglophones (I live in the Mile End) and we often switch to english. I have no problem with that at all and my comment obviously wasn’t directed at you.

      I think the big difference between francophones from any part of the country and anglophones is that the first group know they need to speak english to live anywhere outside Quebec and New Brunswick. If they don’t, people will remind them. Ask me how many times i’ve heard « frog » when polling western Canada on the phone, even if I was speaking english. Same kind of intelligent people as that receptionist. The other group seems to think it is a nice addition to their knowledge to speak french, even in Québec. Nothing more. My last roommate said to me once he didn’t like french and wasn’t planning to learn any of it. He had been here for eight years. No need to say he doesn’t live here anymore.

      The problem comes when I go to the dep and can’t be served in french. When I go to buy bagels, books or to buy bread at the cornerstore and can’t be served in french. Even if I say bonjour. And merci at the end. I never get angry at those people because you never know their background, maybe they just arrived here. But I wonder sometimes if I have to act as if I couldn’t understand a word of english to be served in french. Or burst out in fake anger, but errr what would it do. It happens every day, not just when I go to the hospital. And then people come saying they can’t be served in english; start by learning french yourself to be able to serve locals, then you may expect other people to speak your language.

      I lived in Mexico two years ago and expected to speak spanish. I took lessons before going and over there, even had two classes of mayan, as I was living in Yucatan where spanish is a second language. Why can’t people do the same here? Or at least accept to be spoken in the local language? I went to the hospital a few times and managed to tell them what I had.

    • Alex L 21:58 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      Sorry for that long novel ;)

    • Ian 22:09 on 2011/12/22 Permalink

      It may come as a surprise to you that deps all across Canada are often staffed by recent immigrants who haven’t the slightest idea of what you’re saying. On several occasions in Toronto I had to draw pictures to indicate what I was looking to buy…

      But sure, I get it. If you move to Quebec, it’s a good idea to learn French – the simple truth of the matter is that in any big city it’s possible to live within your own community and not learn the dominant language. When your non-dominant language has the number of co-culturalists that anglos can find in Montreal, it’s not that surprising that we’ll speak it together. A lot more than, say, French speakers in Toronto. That said, there are large areas within Toronto where the dominant language is Chinese, or Vietnamese, or Spanish, or Portugese (for example – there are many more) – and you know what? Medical services are provided in those languages in those neighbourhoods.

      I’m not saying that it’s unrealistic to think people should learn French if they move to Quebec, but I am saying it’s unreasonable to be surprised if they don’t, and that maybe Montrealers don’t really need to feel threatened about that, because that’s how cities are.

    • Robert J 05:15 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      The laws need to be adapted to regional specificity. I have no problem with the RAMQ hiring unilingual franco receptionists elsewhere in the province, but in montreal they should hire multilingual ones. Toronto will never live up to Montreal’s flexibility around language and culture, even though language is a controversy here, we handle it pretty well in day to day life. In Toronto most of everyone either is anglo or wants to be. It doesn’t really matter how multicultural the city is, it has a very monocultural attitude (there is much more bilingualism and multilingualism in New York, where English is less dominant then in Toronto because of Spanish– just proof that heavily multicultural cities do not need to function exclusively in English or any other single language).

    • ant6n 05:57 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      “If you live in germany, you can ask to be served in english, for example, but if they say they can’t do it, what do you do, get angry? call the police?”

      I’m in Berlin over the holidays, and I hear English everywhere. A lot of general information out there is bilingual. Not only that, but people will generally serve you without being judgmental about not speaking the native language. I mean those attitude probably exists here, too; it’s just that people generally seem to accept English, that foreign language – and it is actually foreign and newly-arrived, 20 years ago there was essentially no English in East-Berlin at all.

      This whole argument that people make in Quebec is premised around English having essentially the same status as Arabic or Chinese – the language of some immigrants. That is not true; it’s the official language of Canada, together with French. And in Montreal it was the major language for quite some time during recent history. I don’t understand how anywhere in Canada it is considered acceptable to want to eradicate the other official language locally.

      Coming in as a foreigner to Quebec, I feel that the hatefulness over language is one of the largest failings here, contrary to everything else that makes it la belle province.

    • Ian 07:49 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      For those who doubt you can get French health care in Toronto, I direct you to the Ontario Ministry of Health website: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/french/publicf/programf/flhsf/flhs_mnf.html or alternately, you can simply call The Toronto central Community Care and Access services line – 416-506-9888 – services available in French.

    • JaneyB 09:28 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      Interesting comments on this eternal problem. The receptionist at that clinic was clearly in the wrong in my view – though I understand the desire/fairness of Francophones wanting to speak in French in Quebec. When it comes to health crises, taxes and crime, people tend to revert to whatever language is easier for them – and I think the majority of Quebecois get that and expect the same at the English hospitals. I agree that people should make an effort to learn French when they’re here but that doesn’t mean they can stay in it when they are stressed.

      The situation is different for immigrants versus English-Canadians though. I remember being at Revenu Quebec with a Turkish friend and when he tried (emphatically, with references to ‘two official languages’) to get service in English, the Quebecois clerk was resolutely obstructive, even though they publish all their forms in English too. Previously, when I (anglo, white, from out-west) had had dealings with them, I’d start in French but they would switch back and forth to English as needed (same at RAMQ…). There is kind of a desire to ‘discipline’ the immigrants here…

    • Tamara Tepox 11:43 on 2011/12/23 Permalink

      As founder and leader of a group for Mexicans who want to immigrate as Permanent Residents to Quebec, I always insist that learning French is not only for passing the interview at Mexico’s BIQ and receive your CSQ. But for integrating in the “jour à jour”. I don’t understand, AT ALL, people who want to immigrate to Quebec but don’t want to speak French fluently. And not only speak it, but write it and read it. Montreal is NOT an anglophone city, even though there are many anglophone areas, it is still very very French. Plus, most of us immigrants move to the suburbs 3 or 4 years after we land and the suburbs are pretty much French speaking. As an immigrant, I do see any issue with this language policy, I think it really has to be reinforced. As a mexican who has more exposure to English than French (we all do have English courses in middle school), learning another language is just enrichment to the mind. Merry Christmas to all, Joyeuses Fêtes, and Kate, try to get some good rest! Thank you for the #1 blog in my life.

  • Kate 14:01 on 2011/12/22 Permalink | Reply  

    An Atlantic puffin found on a Montreal street recently is on its way back to Newfoundland where it would normally live. One comment suggests it was sent home because it didn’t speak enough French to coach the Habs.

  • Kate 14:00 on 2011/12/22 Permalink | Reply  

    The STM says it’s equalled a record for transit ridership set in 1947.

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