Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 23:27 on 2012/04/20 Permalink | Reply  

    Now I’m hoping the Earth Day march on Sunday doesn’t turn into a festival of police violence as well. The Mirror has notes on other Earth Day events but the main one is the march on Sunday afternoon, starting at 14h at Place des Festivals.

    Incidentally, this is an odd Earth Day site, with IGA, Toronto-Dominion and Quebecor listed as “partners” – t-shirts for sale – everything copyright “tous droits réservés” – I’m overwhelmed by the reek of greenwashing. The English equivalent is worse – “Check out the Earth Day Canada store today!” – “We are pleased to partner with Foxy Originals to offer a signature necklace and bracelet set.” W.T.F.

  • Kate 23:10 on 2012/04/20 Permalink | Reply  

    I’m sort of feeling “I don’t want to live on this planet any more” as I look at these links.

    Another video, from the CSN, asking “Le rôle de la police est-il d’assurer l’ordre ou de provoquer?”

    Patrick Lagacé asks how Jean Charest can find all this funny. Radio-Canada also shakes their head at him and reactions have been bad.

    • Ian 09:57 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      He knows he’s on the way out anyway, so he can do whatever the hell he wants. That’s definitely the impression he’s giving, in any case. Joking as rioters were battling in the streets with cops was Charest’s “Let them eat cake” moment. I’m with you – as an Anglo it’s depressing that my only voting choices are the Liberals or seperatists. When do we get a left-wing option that isn’t fixated on playing out the antique sovereigntist Punch & Judy show & is willing to get on with the less exciting job of governing?

    • Kate 15:45 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      I am very much of your way of thinking about this.

    • Antonio 17:10 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      “Selon Jean-François Dumas, président de la firme [Influence Communication], ce «raz-de-marée» illustre un clivage entre les commentateurs sur Internet et les gens qui ont assisté au discours au Palais des congrès.

      “Lui-même était sur place lorsque Jean Charest a dit sa blague.

      «Hier, 99,99% des gens sur les médias sociaux n’étaient pas dans la salle. À l’intérieur, l’atmosphère était à couper au couteau. La blague a permis de détendre l’atmosphère. Les gens avaient besoin de dédramatiser la situation parce que la situation était dramatique», raconte-t-il.” (see URL below)

      Besides meeting the need to ease the tension, the joke was actually funny. I hope Mr Charest doesn’t give in. He’s doing the right thing.

      Also, goodness help us if any of the other parties get in.


    • ant6n 20:09 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      I read this on openfile: “According to the Premier, everyone in the room understood his sense of humour. Had you been there, you would have understood it too.”

      And I think to myself that of course I’d have understood it, because if I had been in the room, I’d be part of the cake-eating class about to receive lots of cake from the government to make even more cake in the North of Quebec.

      It’s annoying to see the gov’t want to spend 80 Billion in the North, while not having to money to keep funding education at the same levels; at the same time they seem so eager to get more and more development up North that they don’t really try to get as much money as possible from mining companies to extract those limited resources.

      We’re selling out our resources, and our young generation; and all that Charest has to say is spiteful arrogance.

    • Kate 00:26 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      ant6n, you’re right, and it makes me sad.

      I’ve been hearing noise on this blog and elsewhere lately about not respecting conservatism, but my big problem with the conservative thing is just this. We can look after the planet and see that we’re not leaving a big mess to our descendants, or we can say “fuck ’em, we’ve got ours” and dig in, like the people laughing at Charest’s little joke this weekend.

      I don’t understand whether conservatives really think the planet is endlessly exploitable and all environmentalists are lying, whether they think the planet is theirs to fuck over because God said that was OK, or whether they think it’s all fine because Jesus Christ is going to come back and call time before it gets totally unlivable. I don’t even know whether some of them have thought it through. To me, the planet’s issues are the place where we can’t spin and lie and PR ourselves out of the situation we’re bringing about, although our federal government seems to think if you gag your scientists then it will all be OK.

      In this weekend’s Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente (not someone I’d normally enjoy linking) tries to explain conservatives to liberals but she gets hung up on law-and-order issues and never even touches the environment. Law and order is important but it’s all man-made rules, and we can change those. If the environment reaches some kind of tipping point, we’re not going to be able to legislate our way out of it – nature has laws we can’t change. Then what?

    • Antonio 07:27 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      Kate, as usual, you and ant6n vilify those who don’t agree with you. This time, your rhetorical tactic of choice is to present a series of false dilemmas about “conservatives” whereas ant6n more crudely resorts to name-calling (“cake-eating class”). While your rhetoric in this particular instance may be more subtle than ant6n’s, it’s just as fallacious.

    • Kate 08:39 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      Antonio, if you think that was vilification you’ve never seen vilification.

      I actually do not understand conservatism. It seems to me to be based on untenable premises as I just explained, but what strikes me as notable is that conservatives often appear to act from a basis of fundamental deceptiveness – for example, behind the screen its tendency is always to strengthen an oligarchy, while in front of the screen it pretends to be populist. Can you demonstrate to me that this is not true?

      Maybe there was a time when Canadian conservatives did not do this, but modern conservatives from Harper and the UK’s Cameron to the Tea Party seem to be addicted to this kind of approach.

    • Antonio 09:00 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      Kate, maybe you don’t understand “conservatism” because trying to understand labels that people bandy about to pigeonhole political viewpoints is beyond comprehension. I don’t understand it either because the point of using labels isn’t to foster understanding or intelligent discourse, but quite the opposite. That’s po-mo lit crit theory 101, since we’re obliquely on the topic of higher education, which education appears to be lost on the boycotters. This, in turn, makes the Average Joe taxpayer like me who is already subsidizing the boycotters’ education to the tune of 89% even more resentful about doing so. They don’t seem to be learning a darn thing beyond a sense of self-entitlement, self-indulgence, and thuggery. To add insult to injury, the Average Joe has to pay for policing and clean-up, too.

    • Kate 09:23 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      You can’t help, then? OK. I find it odd you defend a political position you admit you don’t understand either except as a gut reflex.

    • Rachel 09:32 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      Kate, how would you define “liberalism”, then? (Not trying to put you into a corner, I’m genuinely curious how you would define it.)

    • Kate 10:06 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      That’s a big question, especially since as a Canadian I’m half tempted to say Pierre Trudeau’s Just Society comes as close as anything I could define.

      Anyway, I’m not a liberal. If I had to stand anywhere I’d have to say I’m a social democrat shading into a socialist. I think society has to put scientific principles first because we can’t bend them no matter how heavy a smokescreen we put up.

      I want a politics that recognizes actual incontrovertible facts that stretch beyond the next election, rather than making flimflamming the voters its first concern. This takes in the Tory dislike for science and statistics, but also the sad fact that Canadian Liberal parties have been too prone to corruption too.

      If our politicians in general were honest with us, proportional representation would be the first thing on the agenda. It’s not just Canada that’s suffering from having a ruling party that only represents a minority of its population – other major democracies are struggling with this kind of thing too. Sort that out, and then talk to me about social justice. Everything else is just PR.

      I love minority governments because nobody can impose a single, flawed ideology on the whole country. Governments are at their best when they have to fight to defend a position, rather than just handwaving things through Parliament. Actually making the effort to convince people you’re right! That’s what politics should involve.

    • Ian 10:37 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      @antonio – leftists pay taxes, too. I am in the 90th percentile for Canada individually, 97th for household – I definitely pay my share of taxes. Leftists aren’t all a bunch of wild-eyed 20-somethings with no money or jobs. We are voters, workers, and legitimate citizens of this fine province, just like right-wingers. I understand that as an “average tax paying Joe” you’re offended to see your tax dollars being spent on subsidizing education, policing demonstrators, and cleanup. To turn that around, as an “average tax-paying Joe” I’m offended that my tax dollars go into policing tactics that suppress legitimate demonstrations and incite violence (the riot squad charged the crowd and fired CS before any violence occurred), and renting the Palais de Congrès to celebrate the political genius of raping the North for its resources. We can position this particular debate however we want but ultimately what it comes down to is that the government doesn’t want to pay as much for education any more. To not see how this is a bad sign for society at large is a bit perplexing to me unless selfish interests are behind this apparent lack of insight. Health, education, and infrastructure are the basics, no? What should the government be spending their money on instead – more tear gas, better billy clubs, and fancier soirées for big business?

    • ant6n 11:09 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      “….whereas ant6n more crudely resorts to name-calling (“cake-eating class”).”

      Well, sorry you’re offended; but everyone else in the room got the joke.

    • Antonio 18:56 on 2012/04/22 Permalink

      @Kate: I don’t qualify the position that I defend as “conservative” and I take exception to you imposing that label on me. I’m beyond meaningless labels and I don’t believe the student tuition issue is a left vs right or liberal vs conservative thing. To insist that it is is pure obscurantism. Not that it’s any of your concern, but I’ve never voted for a party to the right of the Liberal Party of Canada and have even voted NDP. That may seem paradoxical to you if you insist on seeing things in black and white. There are many shades of gray in this world and the tuition issue is not a black and white issue.

      @Ian: I don’t know if anyone is “raping the North” (?!?) and won’t comment on emotionally potent oversimplications like that.

      Health and education are indeed the basics. There are various funding models that we can use for either. Sticking to education, I think we need to put the works into funding our public system of PRIMARY and SECONDARY schools so that all kids, be they from Westmount or St-Henri have as equal a chance as possible to learn.

      When those kids get to university age, then we can subsidize those who show the most promise and can become the custodians of the disciplines that they choose to study. Those who aren’t at the university calibre can be directed towards trades and professions that we can selectively subsidize depending upon the job market.

      The setup we’ve got now induces too many people to pursue BA’s, too many universities to lower admission standards to pump out more BA’s, and too many employers to demand BA’s for jobs that don’t require them.

      We are not making efficient use of scarce resources with the current funding scenario and, by increasing tuition fees, I think we’d be taking a first step towards a more rational approach for reasons that require more thoughtful consideration than this space provides.

    • Ian 09:07 on 2012/04/23 Permalink

      @antonio – whether you realize it or not, your statement that “too many people pursue BA’s” is also essentially an emotional one. I suspect that it’s not so much the ubiquity of undergraduate degrees as a job requirement that you dislike, but that your own education has been cheapened, as it were. Either way, this is not a reason that tuitions should be increased, but rather a reason for universities to reconsider their admissions standards – raising tuitions will only serve to keep out potential candidates from the lower and middle classes, not increase the academic quality of the student body. For someone so concerned with rational approaches to academic reform, I’m a bit surprised that you are conflating “value” and “cost”.

    • Antonio 16:54 on 2012/04/23 Permalink

      @Ian: I agree with you that universities should reconsider their admissions standards, but this would affect “accessibility,” which has been the rallying cry of the student movement.

      I don’t think that I’m conflating any issues. I see the problem as follows: cash-strapped governments underfund universities when these are publicly funded (as in Québec, where the public subsidy represents 89% of the actual tuition costs), universities lower admission standards to let in more students and increase their funding on a per capita basis, the glut in the holders of Bachelor’s degrees causes employers to seek degrees where none is necessary, young people think that Bachelor’s degrees are the be all and end all to gainful employment because so many employers require them. Meanwhile, our economy is experiencing shortages in skilled tradespeople among others and here we are directing people into university programs when they’re not cut out for them.

      And then we end up with situations like this:

    • Antonio 16:57 on 2012/04/23 Permalink

    • Kate 07:04 on 2012/04/24 Permalink

      Antonio, a general university degree is not job training and was never meant to be. It’s supposed to equip a person with a certain amount of general knowledge and the capacity for critical thinking and thus make them more valuable citizens and members of society.

    • Antonio 17:49 on 2012/04/24 Permalink

      @Kate, I’ve never heard of a “general university degree.” Furthermore, if university degrees are not job training, then how do you explain the existence of faculties of medicine, law, engineering, dentistry, social work, commerce, etc.?

      I submit to you that it is elementary and secondary schools that are “supposed to equip a person with a certain amount of general knowledge and the capacity for critical thinking and thus make them more valuable citizens and members of society,” NOT universities. If elementary schools and high schools aren’t achieving that goal then we have a problem.

      Universities are meant to teach more specialized topics and disciplines to those with the specific capacity to learn them and become the custodians of that knowledge.

      In the real world, resources are scarce. In the real world, a university education costs money, whether it’s the government (i.e. the taxpayer) or the student who pays for it. It costs something.

      Giving everyone and anyone access to university just because they feel like going or think they might be inclined to study some discipline or another is neither affordable nor desirable, and this REGARDLESS of what funding scheme you choose. I think even someone like Ian would agree with this statement.

  • Kate 22:54 on 2012/04/20 Permalink | Reply  

    Interesting preview of what the Plan Nord could do to the northern parts of Quebec. Most of us don’t live in the boreal forest, so its destruction doesn’t loom over us like some things do. But that forest is the counterweight to how we live in the cities, and once we kill it off in the name of profit, we’ll be in trouble. Of course by the time the trouble really comes home to roost, the joke will be on the children and grandchildren of our generation – imagine their faces when they realize what we’ve done!

    Jean Charest made a cute little joke today at his bazaar for selling off Quebec’s future cheap. People are upset with him. I wonder why.

  • Kate 16:21 on 2012/04/20 Permalink | Reply  

    Catching up here:

    Video – police shoot a protester at point-blank range with some kind of chemical gun.

    Some profs have denounced the criminalization of the strike.

    This afternoon has seen a major clash at the Salon Plan Nord at the Palais des congrès. Tear gas and stun grenades were used on protesters.

    • Ben Bourito 16:41 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      No word on all the damage caused by the protestors?
      They are destroying the city and no one seem to care, destroying things seem to be a legitimate way to protest for some!

    • Kate 16:53 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      Cool your jets, sweetie. I have not completed a sweep of all the links, there are many things to do when the site comes back up. Will post again in a bit.

    • Ian 17:49 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      Word on the tweet is that there were a number of groups at the protest, so let’s avoid painting all protestors with the same brush. There were clearly some bad elements out today.

    • Adam 19:31 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      Kate, you *never* seem to get around to saying much about the violence coming from the protestors. Hell, even Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois suddenly decided that he had a mandate to criticize (though not condemn) throwing rocks onto the highway as cars pass by. I’m sure that you disagree with this kind of thuggery, but you seem focused laser-like on the government and the police, as if their actions are the only ones worth critiquing.

      The cop who fired the canister at the protester point-blank should be charged with attempted murder. He opened that door specifically to shoot the guy.

    • CE 20:11 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      Here’s a short recap of what I saw while I was there: I arrived late at about 12h30 just as things were heating up. A large group had apparently stormed the Plan Nord conference (people said 100 people had been arrested but they must have just evicted them because I haven’t heard anything about that in the news). As I was biking down Bleury towards the Palais des congrès, I was tear gased after passing a demo that was walking north. There was a lot of standing around the park near la Joute outside the PdC until the police started charging at demonstrators who weren’t doing a whole lot (most people were apparently at other demos snaking through downtown). Union members retreated into their school buses and police were charging and shooting tear gas and stun grenades. Protesters were running in different direction and responding by throwing rocks, bottles, pylons, etc. at the police. They were also kicking and throwing tear gas canisters back towards the police lines. The police seemed to be trying to break everyone up into different groups and then close off the street to keep the crowds smaller and splintered. People seemed to be getting more and more angry as the police continued to shoot at and charge groups of people until one of the demos (about 500-1000 people) returned and started marching towards the PdC from Square Victoria. They were marching calmly towards the police line until a couple police lines converged and chased people back by charging and shooting yet more tear gas, resulting in a police riot. Lots of rocks and bottles were thrown at police after this and police shot more stun grenades and tear gas. Apparently, at this point, there was an equal sized group on the other side but I couldn’t get over there because the police weren’t letting people move around very easily (I was talking to some tourists from Toronto who had just arrived. they were trying to get to the Westin but it was impossible. They were quite perplexed by the whole thing).

      Eventually, people regrouped and a walked through the streets towards the other side of the PdC. Some windows were broken at the Centre mondiale de commerce and I think somewhere else but I can’t remember (people tried at the Caisse de dépôt but they seem to have some pretty good windows). Barricades were built, a couple TVA vans and a police cruiser had their windows smashed but overall damage was minimal. When I left, people were mostly at Viger and St-Urbain playing cat-and-mouse with the riot cops (which included a bunch of green-cladded super-cops).

      There was a lot more than what I saw obviously because it was actually really pretty big. Two highlights that stood out were a guy who fell down while the police were charging which resulted in a bunch of cops pouncing on him until he was unarrested by a larger group of protesters and a police line that was chased down Viger by a very ballsy group of about 300 protesters until higher-level riot cops intervened (picture here: http://www.ledevoir.com/images_galerie/115600_90886/image.jpg).

      Conclusion: police started a few short but very intense riots and overall damage and violence by the protesters has been overstated by the media looking for a good story. Had it not been for the actions of the police who were obviously looking for a fight and were nervous about the PdC being occupied, it probably would have been fairly peaceful.

    • No\Deli 21:31 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      Yes, Kate. I’ve been reading a long time – and I remember when you basically let David off the hook when he was DESTROYING THE CITY with his slingshot. Meanwhile, Goliath was just doing his job – trying to keep that little protester in check – you called him a jerk, a Philistine, and other mean things. Very one-sided around here.

    • Anto 22:00 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      Don’t want to answer for you Kate, but the way I see it, this a blog maintained by one person, so of course it’s going to be one-sided. Discussion and diversity of opinions can be achieved in the comments, that’s the whole point of having those.

    • Kate 22:37 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      Thank you, Anto. What you say is true.

      Chris Erb, thank you for your eyewitness report, I appreciate it very much.

    • Phil 23:26 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      When someone runs a blog… it’s THEIR blog… you folks are actually going to frequent this website and then accuse the woman who runs it all because you disagree with her? This is not media, it’s a personal website that refers to the media. You can offer your own disagreements, but if you don’t like what you see, find another blog that tells you what you want to hear. I offer you all a very well-meant shutup & get over it, or gtfo.

    • marco 23:44 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      @Anto. Are you saying Kate has an agenda? Say it ain’t so.

    • Kate 00:15 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      “Agenda” implies I set out with a plan. I will admit to a viewpoint and even a bias, but I have no agenda except to be critical of what I see going on.

    • Chris 09:41 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      Phil, “this is not media”? “media” is worse, because they have not only a viewpoint and a bias, but an agenda too!

    • Kevin 12:45 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      I am a mainstream journalist and I don’t have an agenda.

      Looking at what my colleagues and competition write and broadcast, I don’t see much of a unified agenda at all.

  • Kate 16:03 on 2012/04/20 Permalink | Reply  

    Just had to whisk the Montreal City cat to the vet for a routine checkup, and the cabbie told me things were getting hot downtown. Checked manifencours and it sounds harsh. More as soon as I collect some links here.

    • Brad 16:40 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      When I was coming home from an errand downtown around noon there was a general announcement on the Métro directed to all staff: “Code 64.” I wonder if there’s a list of these codes available to the public? It sounded ominous, and I assume was probably related to the protests.

    • Kate 16:52 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      People have discussed metro codes on the Métro de Montréal site and here, but I don’t see Code 64 on that page.

  • Kate 16:02 on 2012/04/20 Permalink | Reply  

    Sorry about that roughly 24-hour outage, it wasn’t planned so I couldn’t warn about it.

    • Kevin 12:46 on 2012/04/21 Permalink

      Glad you’re back.

  • Kate 16:00 on 2012/04/20 Permalink | Reply  

    I noticed this yesterday – lots and lots of brown and orange butterflies like the one in the photo. They’re apparently red admirals.

    • Ian 18:35 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      I’m glad I’m not going nuts and there really are more of them than usual.

    • C_Erb 22:44 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      I saw a few too. They’re pretty tame, I was walking around with one riding on my finger the other day.

    • Kate 23:12 on 2012/04/20 Permalink

      They seem exceptionally unafraid of people. I had some flirting with me at a bus stop yesterday and later when I was on my way up to the Vic (I’m a test subject at the vision lab there) there were lots of them in the air.

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