Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 21:07 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Saulie Zajdel has left his job with the Harper government, shadowing a Montreal riding where he lost the vote. As I recall, the first intimations of robocall-like tactics surfaced in Mount Royal riding when residents got calls implying that Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who won the election, was planning to quit – when he wasn’t.

  • Kate 20:51 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    A man died Tuesday in the collapse of a water main excavation in Lachine, and another was injured.

  • Kate 12:50 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Montreal saw 39 traffic-related deaths in 2011 (38 in 2010) and 19 pedestrian deaths (18 in 2010). More numbers in the article.

  • Kate 12:47 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Some nice think pieces in recent days:

    Alanah Heffez has a thoughtful piece about the role of Berri Square, which has a long history of being a place where aid was provided to the indigent – in fact, its current name, Place Émilie-Gamelin, honours a 19th-century woman who did just that.

    Urbania’s Judith Lussier tells us what bugs her about the new archbishop and why she formally apostasized a few years ago.

    A history of Montreal’s Crystal Palace is a fascinating glimpse of how 19th-century Montreal walked in step with the fashions of its time.

    Taylor Noakes wades into the language issue, condemning political polemics that he feels damage this city. Pierre Duhamel expresses similar notions in L’actualité.

    walkerp, who often comments here, catches his borough mayor cleaning up his street.

    La Presse has gathered all its opinion writers under a new heading, Débats, if you’re in the mood for more viewpoints.

    • William 18:32 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Yeah, a thoughtful piece except for the fact that it ignores the fact that their is a growing body of research that reveals that the concentration of social services has negative effects both on the people who need to be served and on the local area. I can’t stand these dickensian fairy wonderland accounts of modern day poverty.

    • Kate 18:41 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      OK, but what do you do about the fact that homeless people panhandle in Ville-Marie and to some extent the Plateau and almost nowhere else in town? If you’re offering them services, you don’t set up shop in Pointe-aux-Trembles.

    • William 18:47 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Firstly, it is a myth that there are only needy people in central Montreal, and secondly, the current set-up concentrates these individuals in this already deprived area. Social services professionals throughout the region are crying out for more resources. If you wouldn’t choose to have lunch in Berri Square, what makes you think that it would be an attractive place for a homeless person? We’re all just people.

    • Kate 20:56 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      There are certainly needy people all over town – poor families and older people and all kinds – but the specific kind of needy person I believe Alanah is talking about is itinerant, and yes, is someone who can cause a certain amount of trouble. And we always have an influx of young people moving through town in summer, too. I don’t subscribe to the idea of the saintly hobo, but I also don’t subscribe to writing people off.

      I have no objection to having lunch in Berri Square. It’s not my favourite part of town but it doesn’t frighten me.

    • William 22:22 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Nobody is writing anybody off. Berri Square is recognized as being a particularly dangerous hotspot for the city, and that is why Aires Libres has been shorted to St-Hubert this year. If you choose to lunch there, kudos to you. The homeless, like everyone else, deserve dignity and adapted social services, not corralling. Fluff pieces like the one Alannah wrote don’t contribute anything to this goal.

    • Kate 22:57 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      OK. I don’t think we’re really disagreeing, except maybe over the tone of the original article I linked. It’s a complicated issue and probably as much to do with neighbourhood and borough NIMBYing as much as anything – look how Villeray nixed the Inuit centre it could’ve had, for example.

    • Raoul 06:36 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      Here’s one for the language debate, anyone know where i can get a proper english keyboard? i cant program with this new french one, the slashes and the are in the wrong places :(

    • Robert J 07:07 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      @Raoul: go to Walmart in Plattsburgh! It’ll be fun…

      @William: You’re really that afraid of Berri Square? Did something happen to you there? I mean, it’s a bit rough around the edges but I’ve never felt in danger there.

      There’s always tons of people around, only some of whom are homeless and/or dodgy. Every city has places like Berri Square. I just don’t see it necessarily as a problem to be solved.

    • walkerp 08:12 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      Can’t we argue about my blog post? Was Ferrandez just courting votes or was this simply an effort to get things done? Why couldn’t he mobilize the cols bleus? :)

      [Thanks for the link!]

    • Raoul 08:21 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      @Robert, a trip to US to get a decent programmers’ keyboard is out of my price range lol to hell with this “clavier quebecois 105 touches” i got a refund and decided to repair my old one lol.

    • tommy 08:27 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      Walker, from my many conversation with various people in city politics, and the local media, the Projet Montreal is now widely perceived as dangerous maniacs. I guess it really only matters what those Plateau voters think. It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure.

    • William 08:40 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      @walkerp – I think it was a cheap publicity stunt. Rather than putting on a show, I would rather they sit in their offices and figure out how to keep our streets year-round – basic sanitation is the first responsibility of any local government anywhere in the world.

    • Kate 08:47 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      walkerp I think it’s a publicity stunt but it’s also a demonstration of a willingness to pitch in which I can’t help liking. My Vision Montreal borough mayor doesn’t even know we use green recycling boxes, that’s how often she walks down our streets.

      William, the Plateau is grubby right now but it’s inevitable the city looks a bit duff after the withdrawal of winter, it’s always been like that. You speak as if the Plateau is like some hideously unsanitary tropical slum – don’t you think you’re overreacting a tiny bit?

    • ant6n 11:39 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      @Raoul: ncix

    • walkerp 12:25 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      I’m not really sure how you can label it a publicity stunt when there was no publicity. They sure as hell didn’t know I lived on the block and I was the only publicity they got. There were only about 5 people there and they quietly went down the street cleaning up. Most people on my street probably didn’t even notice.

      I think what really happened is that one neighbour harrassed them enough and on an issue that aligns very much with their own priorities so they finally decided to go out and do it themselves, because they couldn’t get the cols bleus to do it.

    • Kate 16:54 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      OK, I hadn’t taken in that there was no publicity. Really like, no photographer or anything?

      That’s pretty amazing.

    • William 19:28 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      Considering there was “no publicity” it’s kina amazing that we all know about it, right? LOL.

    • Kate 21:57 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      I heard about it because I read walkerp’s blog, and now anyone who’s seen that posting or this posting and its comments knows about it. I don’t think I’ve seen mention of it anywhere else.

    • walkerp 22:37 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      When I took the picture on my blog, I told them they had earned some free publicity. I’m sure that being politicians they had thought or discussed among themselves the possibility of good publicity simply through word of mouth or perhaps social media, but as far as I know they didn’t actually do anything directly involved with publicity. They just went out with some citizens, did the work (and did it well I might add) and went home. I got the sense they were glad also to get it over with so they could enjoy the rest of the beautiful day. There were no photographers or media people anywhere on my block the whole time they were there and I certainly have not seen any other articles about it.

      Being cynical about politicians is expected and being skeptical is necessary, but sometimes you have to accept a good gesture simply for what it is.

  • Kate 12:26 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    A student at Université Laval was granted an injunction to allow him to attend a class despite the ongoing student strike. Some McGill students are agitating today. Yesterday some UdeM students picketed 1420 Mont-Royal and denounced the mismanagement that led their university to buy the old convent then resell it to a condo developer.

    CBC has an analysis piece about whether tuition increases actually bar people from going to university, or whether other social factors come into play.

    • Steph 12:49 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      I imagine Laurent Proulx’s legal posturing is an attempt to get noticed by the law school he’s applying to in September. It’s still to be seen if the professor will show up to teach 1 student.

    • Tux 13:35 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      No surprise that there are varying opinions about whether or not tuition hikes really prevent people from getting post-secondary education, and about whether the money is needed to keep our schools up-to-date…

      My opinions for what they’re worth:
      You make education more expensive, you deny it to more people. Point finale. Not everyone can get a scholarship/bursary or go into debt.

      Do the schools need more money? It’s not as simple as saying “yes they do” or “no they don’t” – have we looked at allocating these funds in smarter ways? Have we looked at ways to reduce costs (electronic courseware, streamlining the administration) or at ways of mixing educational and commercial ventures? (Opening hackerspaces free to students but with membership fees for outsiders…) The argument is too limited in scope! I’d love to see some real debate, dollar for dollar, cent for cent.

    • ant6n 13:40 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      The tuition hikes issue is not really about university funding, but about Quebec wanting to balance its budget without increasing taxes, meaning they have to increase any user fee they can. The overall issue is whether balancing the budget should be done on the shoulders of groups like students.

    • Tux 14:23 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Well, it may be about the budget, but doesn’t that money ultimately end up in the hands of schools? If the schools can go on just fine as they are, why is education being targeted specifically as a means to balance the budget?If we’ve gotta take this money from the populace somehow why don’t we target drivers? More parking meters? Steeper ticket fines? Or, once again, why aren’t we looking at ways to reduce spending as opposed to increasing revenues?

    • ant6n 14:47 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      The tuition increase _is_ a way to reduce spending. Quebec subsidizes education less, which means tuition has to go up for universities to have the same funding. Although the reduction in spending isn’t actually all that much in the grand scheme of things.

    • Kate 18:15 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      My impression is that Jean Charest could fix a couple of things if he had the guts. He could address the students’ concerns by delaying the tuition hikes while insisting any shortfall be made up by having the universities clean up their finances. He would get bigtime flak from McGill, for starters, but his government did have to get heavy with UQÀM over the Îlot Voyageur fiasco so we know they can do it when they have to.

  • Kate 12:15 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Louise Beaudoin has returned to the Parti Québécois although, according to Radio-Canada, she won’t be running in the next election.

  • Kate 12:02 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Louise Harel’s Vision Montreal party is bogged down in quite a large debt which might interfere with its ability to face the 2013 elections.

  • Kate 02:11 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Impératif français is handing out lemons in imitation of Heritage Montreal’s architecture awards. Geoff Molson gets a lemon for letting a unilingual anglo coach the Habs, for example. the Caisse de dépôt also gets one for allowing a couple of blokes into its upper ranks.

    I’m not sure it’s helpful to talk about “linguistic aggression” as if someone somewhere is plotting on behalf of the English language. Fact is, they don’t have to. In the case of the Caisse, money has no conscience and no language, and their choices are made in the service of capital, not culture. As they should be, if they’re managing Quebec’s collective wealth. I don’t care if they’re talking Mandarin in the boardroom if it means I won’t have to starve when I get old.

    Anyway, more bellyaching about Montreal being a bilingual city and thoughts from Lysiane Gagnon about what’s openly being called a language war. I don’t mean my blog to be about this, but it’s the topic of the moment in a way it hasn’t been in the whole 10+ years I’ve been doing this blog.

    And yet everyone is still getting along in the street, most people still adjusting and adapting to communicating with the people around them. In retrospect this whole thing will be seen as a pre-Quebec-election stirring up of the shit, I think.

    • Ian 05:40 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      What if this all turns out to be a publicity stunt for Marie-Mai? This whole “war” does seem more than a little bit manufactured – I haven’t seen even a fraction of the French/English friction on the streets I used to see in the 90’s every day, everywhere… could it be with the implosion of the BQ and a coming election the PQ and their supporters in the media like Jean-François Lisée are working up the relevance of cultural preservationism by trotting out the old dog and pony show, since that’s all the PQ really has to offer?

    • Raoul 07:20 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      The PQ does about as much for Quebec as the republicans do for the states. Most of my family has never forgiven them for the merger/demerger fiasco.

    • mdblog 07:51 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Ian, I think that the election is part of it. Another factor is that the old generation of separatists is at the point where they are slowly realizing that sovereignty will not be achieved in their lifetimes, so they are doubling down and attempting a hail mary, so to speak.

    • Clément 10:26 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      I think it’s fairly idiotic to hand out lemons and, as Ian mentions, seems very much like they’re feeding a manufactured “war”.
      At the same time, let’s make sure we understand that Impératif français is not the PQ, just like Alliance Québec was not the Liberal Party. While Impératif Français’ agenda might seem to intersect that of the PQ, we should be careful to bundle them all together.

      Also, as I remember, the demergers happened under the Liberal Party, not the PQ.

    • Jack 10:52 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Clement Alliance Quebec ceased to exist a decade ago, I really believe a majority of English speakers had given up on identity politics, for good reason. The community accepted the idea that speaking French was now the sole rule for full civic membership and accepted that fact.What seems to be happening is that is now considered not enough. I reread the L’Actualite issue and one key shift, the english language is not the issue, it is english speakers. They are considered lacking in promoting the French language and Quebecois culture, this is an enormous shift.Now our crucial responsibility as Montrealers is not to listen. Do not let these manufactured fears divide us from what makes living here great.

    • Robert H 12:47 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Jack Jedwab:
      « Il y a un écart entre ce qu’on voit sur le terrain et ce qu’on lit dans les journaux. Sur le terrain. Les gens sont ouverts. »

      Isn’t this what we have all been saying?

  • Kate 01:56 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    CP piece on the reasons for Montreal’s outdoor staircases and how they’ve been named as the city’s #1 icon. They’re hard to extract and draw into free-standing logo-like symbols, though, unlike – say – the Tour Eiffel or the Statue of Liberty.

    • Chris 07:12 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      They won’t be #1 forever, since no one builds them anymore.

    • Kate 08:45 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      People don’t even repair them, sometimes. The building I live in would once have had a classic spiral staircase, but before I lived here the owners found out it was dangerously rusty and would cost a lot to either repair or replace in the same style, so now we have an uglier but much less hazardous ordinary angular staircase.

    • C_Erb 09:46 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      A lot of new condo buildings In the Plateau and elsewhere are getting them. They’re not the same as the old style ones but that has more to do with the building code than anything else. The fact that they weren’t even allowed on new buildings for about 40 didn’t help either.

    • Ian 10:15 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      They look cute & everything but try moving a couch up one of those damn things.

    • Kate 10:39 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      That’s a rite of passage for living in Montreal, though.

      Not a sofa, but:
      Moving day: the effort

  • Kate 01:51 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    La Presse has done a study showing bicycle theft takes place in full view of witnesses and nobody notices or cares.

    • Raoul 07:11 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Why would anyone involve themselves? civilians are not cops and you dont know who the criminal is or why he’s doing it. Who wants to chase after crackheads or streetgang thugs? not me.

      Hell even calling the cops can be more trouble than it’s worth.

    • Chris 07:17 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      I doubt this is unique to bikes. I suspect people won’t care about any item of similar value being stolen.

    • walkerp 07:26 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      I’m pretty sure I saw a guy steal a bike on my street. I arrived just as he was finished breaking the lock. He got on the bike quickly and took off, heading the wrong way down St-Laurent. I followed him to see where he would end up. To my shame, he lost me. When I wrote about it on my blog, people told me I should not have intervened. I disagree. If some drug addict were trying to steal my bike, I’d be grateful if people intervened.

      What is it with our society where nobody feels like they have to do anything to maintain social order? And you wonder why they complain about the government never doing anything.

    • Raoul 07:30 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      If he’s a drug addict thats more incentive not to get involved. You dont know if theyre armed. Do you want to get in a bloody fight with someone who might have a contagious disease? And what if you are successful and get the guy arrested, how long do you think he’ll stay in jail for petty theft? Can you be sure he won’t look you up when he gets out? Too many things can go wrong. Thats why cops are trained and armed to deal with these situations, you are not.

    • walkerp 07:35 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Ah yes, fear, the fuel for the new individualism that dominates North American culture. Plus a little excluded middle thrown in for good measure.

      More likely, the drug addict doesn’t want the hassle or the commotion and takes off. If he looks tough or really dangerous, I back off.

      Calling the cops in a situation like that, just not an option. By the time they get there, he’d be long gone and even if I could identify the thief, the bike would be gone by the time the cops got to him.

      And I don’t care if the guy goes to jail or not. He’s a pathetic drug addict. I just don’t want him stealing bikes on my street. He needs to know that it’s not worth his time to come around here.

    • Raoul 07:38 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Ah yes, vigilante justice. Because that’s working out so well in Florida right now… http://www.torontosun.com/2012/04/03/florida-shooter-would-surrender-if-charged—lawyer

    • Raoul 07:43 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      You know Zimmerman thought Treyvon Martin was a drug addict too, right before shooting him.

    • walkerp 07:50 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      And again I encounter the fallacy of the excluded middle. I expect better from you Raoul.

      Here’s a clue by four: asking somebody “hey is that your bike?” does not equal shooting a young man walking down the street.

      Asking people to be actively involved in their immediate community does not mean gangs of armed vigilantes manning roadblocks.

    • Raoul 08:02 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Are you advocating that people take the law into their own hands or not? It would help clarify your position to me.

      Calling the cops anyone can do. But working in a dep several years they always told me that should be the limit of my involvment. Ive seen clerks threatened at knife point, and ive had to replace others in other stores who stupidly tried to detain shoplifters.

      You’re assuming a lot when you say they’ll takeoff at the first sign of confrontation. Some of them are amateurs yes, but some are pros, and others are really desperate, and they dont always chose flight over fight.

    • Kate 11:58 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      Chris said: I doubt this is unique to bikes. I suspect people won’t care about any item of similar value being stolen.

      Maybe, but most people don’t lock cameras, computers and things of comparable value outside then walk away from them. But if I were somewhere and saw someone trying to steal a laptop in a café or make off with an unattended camera, I think I’d be yelling “HEY!” before I even thought about what I was doing.

      As for the argument between Raoul and walkerp about what to do if you notice a theft taking place: I can neither advise yes or no. I think if there were people around and the theft was obvious (not just someone having trouble with a lock) I might shout at the guy and call attention to what he was up to. (Forgive the “he” – I don’t think many bikes are stolen by women.) One time, in fact, I became aware someone was fiddling with a bike locked close by my front window, at night, and I went out and watched him. He spoke to me and showed me he had a key.

      But obviously I would not advise anyone to act alone if nobody is around and especially not if more than one person is engaged in something shady. Use your judgment.

      Police, I can say from my own experience, are not too bothered about cycle theft. If your bike gets stolen, you may need to report the theft if insurance comes into the picture; the police will give you a form and, if feeling magnanimous, suggest you check out a few pawnshops, but they are not going to offer to help you find it, even if it’s been engraved with one of their own machines.

    • qatzelok 12:38 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      First of all, fake “theft” situations are not necessarily credible to passers-by. Secondly, walker’s saying “hey is that your bike?” is a kind of provocation. Imagine seeing a man holding a child’s hand at a pool, and asking him if it’s his child. “You’re not a pedo are you?” is about as provocative as “you’re not a bike thief, are you?”

      Zimmerman probably asked his “suspects” questions like this too.

    • Kate 14:03 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      I think the point here is that minor criminal stuff goes on all the time and people don’t notice it. If someone’s an experienced bike thief they can probably make a theft look like someone normally unlocking their bike. People do stuff like this legitimately all the time – arrive at their bike, reorganize their stuff, unlock their bike – you can be standing there for awhile getting organized or, if it’s what you do, stealing a bike. My favourite bike vanished in five minutes off the Main once. Lots of people around. Nobody noticed.

    • Marco 14:48 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      This is obviously part of a promotional campaign for Bixi. Consider the timing.

    • ant6n 22:45 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      correlation, causation

    • Kevin 06:54 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      La Presse ripped off the premise from a ‘documentary’ that a guy in NYC has been working on for close to a decade.

      I have yet to see anyone ask the first question that pops into my mind: Would YOU confront a man holding a large weapon?

    • Richard 10:20 on 2012/04/04 Permalink

      I once was woken by and chased two bike thieves down Villeneuve in my “pajamas”. Pretty stupid but luckily they ran. I wasn’t about to shoot them and clearly they were not pedophiles.

  • Kate 01:50 on 2012/04/03 Permalink | Reply  

    A new recycling bin is coming and, surprise surprise, it looks like a scaled-down version of the big ones you see outside apartment buildings. Some boroughs will keep using plastic bags.

    Odd that Radio-Canada has the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension mayor saying that her borough will go on using plastic bags. I live in Villeray where the green recycling box is universal.

    • Robert J 05:10 on 2012/04/03 Permalink

      The bag is so much more flexible and tidy. The collectors can see clearly what’s in it, and passers by would have to rip it open to stuff things in it.

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