Updates from June, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 19:25 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    The federal government has pledged to pony up $1.3 billion toward building the R.E.M.

    • ant6n 19:48 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      I was at a conference called Move’On (or something) today, where Michael Sabia spoke. Besides some neoliberal platitudes, he said regarding privatization of infrastructure that it’s not a big deal as long as there’s a contract in place that secures the interest of the government. Well, I disagree with him, ownership will be better to deal with unknown/future issues than some piece of paper.

      Except, the contract the gov’t and the Caisse are proposing is bad.

      It’s very expensive to the public in the long term, we have to agree to the Caisse’s bad planning, and we lose control of our infrastructure.

    • ant6n 19:58 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      (Of course this “privatization is okay as long as there’s a good contract” comes from the guy who privatized CN by just throwing onto the stop market, effectively making us lose tens of billions)

    • Kate 00:42 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      ant6n, I’ve been following your arguments, but when I look around, nobody is listening. It’s frustrating watching all three levels of government marching into this thing and failing even to ask questions that you’ve already answered!

    • JaneyB 07:51 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Agreed Kate. How can we make ant6n’s analysis more visible? Just thinking aloud here…Letters to pols (GND and QS too?), emails (not comments) to the Gazette and La Presse. He’s already on reddit… Clearly, we fellow readers are the obvious vectors; he’s got his own blog (http://www.cat-bus.com).

      Maybe start a group of supporters based on it, have a name and write a press release? There must be some marketing people or people who know people who read this blog and his great analysis. Ant6n needs to be heard and his ideas engaged! Let’s make this happen!

    • Kate 12:10 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      I’m afraid the politicians have already been bought off. Not crudely, with bribes, but within the logic of their approach and the sheer power of the Caisse’s wealth. Pointing out the downsides will be perceived as being a wet blanket.

    • Raymond Lutz 14:19 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Kate, “within the logic of their approach”… Il n’y a pas de logique derrière leur approche sinon leur croyance idéologique que le marché est supérieur à la gestion étatique. Et la CDPQ n’a pas de richesse autre que celle de ses déposants, c’est le Capital. Je cite ici un commentaire du temps que j’étais abonné au Devoir:

      C’est pas parce que le capital spéculatif commence à quitter les énergies fossiles qu’il ira dans les énergies renouvelables! Indifférent à la vertu et la raison, Il ne le fait pas. Le Capital va là ou ça paye vite. Où donc?

      Indice: dans la privatisation des infrastructures publiques. Réparer le réparable (négligé depuis 40 ans) et construire du neuf: REM de la Caisse de Dépôt, Banque de l’infrastructure du Canada de Trudeau, Plan des infrastructures de Trump…

      Les PPP contre-attaquent et veulent notre bien! Ils l’obtiendront, grâce au principe ultralibéral d’utilisateur-payeur. Les énergies vertes? Les capitalistes s’en balancent, ils veulent leurs 10%, leurs 15% l’an, dans un trimestre, pas plus.

      Source: “Is Capital Being Reallocated to High-Tech Industries?”, J.W. Mason, 2015; “Trudeau Should Forget Infrastructure PPP and Support a People’s Bank”, D.O. Jay, The Tyee, 2016; “Drumpf’s infrastructure plan leaves U.S. behind, enriches Wall Street”, K. Degood, MarketWatch, 2016.

    • Mathieu 15:42 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      It’s not as if the government really has a choice in these matters. It requires credit to finance major projects like these and the cost of credit is directly impacted by the way the state deal with its debt and assets. Quebec has to gradually reduce it’s debt if it wants to keep improving its credit rating (so the existing debt doesn’t cost more) and “outsourcing” the required financing to private companies in order to build infrastructure is a good way to still build it and get the good rating.

      I don’t think anyone doesn’t agree with what is said here, on how it’s better to own than to give it to CDPQi. We also all know that it might end up being more expensive to go this way in the long run. But we’re not in a position that enables us to invest billions into new transit projects at the moment; this would have too much impact on our whole debt load and probably end up costing just as much if we’re to drop a step on the credit rating ladder. So we have to make decisions like poor people do every day: pay to use it every time even though we would save by buying it outright first.

    • ant6n 16:15 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      I don’t think this is quite true. If the REM is actually an investment, the government could take on the full cost as debt and offset it with the equity stake in the project. The debt and the asset would cancel each other out on the books.

      If this debt issue is really so graph, make a proper PPP: a competitive bidding process for a the financing partner, giving them 1/3 of the equity for the 1/3 of the investment they’re putting in. Make sure the project returns to public control eventually.

      Lastly, there’s no real need to do this privatized, highway-centric planning that serves some areas at the disadvantage of others (monopolization of Mount Royal tunneL0, and just generally very inefficient from a long-term capital point of view (replacing surface electric line with elevated automated electric line).

      It really looks like CDPQInfra came up with a model that is at best suitable for developing nations, but they have to prove that they can get it done here in Quebec. Well I’m hoping that whoever is considering this model is paying close attention to how much subsidies the government is pushing into CDPQInfra project to make this model “work”.

    • ant6n 16:17 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      (also another note: we’re effectively borrowing the Caisse’s money at 8% interest, while the government can actually finance themselves with 3.7% — our credit is really not that bad.)

    • Mathieu 16:53 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      The asset don’t cancel the debts on a budget, it’s not that simple. There are costs for debt service and the debt still has to be repaid from the operating budget as you can’t sell the asset to pay it (well, if you want to keep it). It’s not that comparable since governments don’t operate as individuals do, but it’s similar to owning a house: sure, it’s an investment, but you have to be able to pay for it every month.

      And as for the PPP, I don’t think that the government is ready to dig into this mess right now considering how the last examples of PPP ended up (CUSM, Highway 25, etc.). This is a hot potato they certainly don’t want to touch.

    • ant6n 17:07 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      But Mathieu — this _is_ a PPP, except one without asset return after, without a bidding process, without public control, and without public planning (i.e. planning in the public’s interest).

      The costs for the debt service of the REM will be much larger than government debt service would be. That’s where the 8% vs 3.7% comes in. 3.7% < 8%.

      Also the REM proves the government is quite willing to engage in financial shenanigans. For example, they could give the right to the ARTM to sell bonds, then secure them allowing the ARTM to raise at the government rate. The ARTM could take on the debt in the REM, but offset that with the asset of owning the REM (exactly like owning a house).

    • Fab Pine 20:36 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      The more I read (including ant6n’s comments), the more I feel that the REM is an example of hucksterism. If the only way to get a high-interest loan from the CDPQ is to build overly-expensive infrastructure to sparsely-populated suburban locations, than its truly not worth building this project (as is) with this financing model.

      It seems like this project is mostly a way to make a handful of insiders really wealthy at all of our expense. And public ignorance is gold for this kind of scam.

    • Raymond Lutz 07:54 on 2017/06/17 Permalink

      “It seems like this project is mostly a way to make a handful of insiders really wealthy at all of our expense.” But it’s the essence of capitalism: rétribuer le propriétaire du capital plutôt que l’ouvrier. And talking of public ignorance, ce n’est pas que nous soyons ignorants, c’est que nous ne _voulons pas_ savoir tout ce qui contredit nos ‘core values’… http://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe for saturday fun. And read https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/this-article-wont-change-your-mind/519093/ if you feel more serious, “Having social support, from an evolutionary standpoint, is far more important than knowing the truth.”

  • Kate 10:27 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    Montreal is hanging onto Copenhagenize’s cycling city list at #20, the only North American town listed. But we’ve tumbled from #8 in 2011, not so much because we’re getting worse as that other cities are catching up.

    • Fab Pine 13:10 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      The lack of protected north-south lanes downtown and the lie that was the Dalle-Parc crossing the new highways… are two important downers for Montreal’s performance as a cycling city. However, on a positive note, our drivers should probably get some kind of award for their “most improved” behavior on the roads in the last few decades. Cars have been signalling their turns for more than a decade now!

    • ant6n 16:11 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Agree on improved driver behavior. Cycling used to be much more scary install (although there’s still plenty of idiots).
      Kind of deflates the often used argument that some traffic device would “never work here” because of existing bad habits.

    • Kate 16:26 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      ant6n, in my life I’ve heard people say, among other things, that people here would never a) recycle or b) stop smoking in public places. And now look at us.

      I also think we’re jaywalking less.

    • Jack 18:11 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      I walked by my kids’ old school, Ste. Cecile on the corner of de Castelnau and de Gaspe, and was taken aback. There was more than 50 bikes locked to the fence. There was a bike path in front of the school. A formerly two lane street was now one with stop signs on every corner. This in the last 5 years.

    • DeWolf 00:09 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Kate, I’ve definitely noticed less jaywalking. In some cases it’s shocking – two dozen people at a busy downtown corner with no oncoming traffic, just standing there, waiting for the light to change.

      As for cycling, I also agree that drivers have become much more aware and much more considerate. I am regularly waved through intersections. In my experience, Montreal is definitely the city with the most robust cycling culture in Canada, and probably North America.

    • DeWolf 00:12 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Also, Copenhagenize asks, “And why isn’t the bike share system open year round?” Yeah, the thought has crossed my mind, especially since Toronto keeps its (less vital, less well-used) bike share system around all year. But imagine how the snowploughs would massacre the Bixi stations. I’m not sure there is a snowier city that has a bike share system, let alone one available year round.

    • Kate 01:04 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Why isn’t the bike share system open year round? This:

    • Fab Pine 20:38 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      If Michel Dallaire can design an unbreakable aluminum bike, he can design a protective barrier against snowplows.

    • Kate 21:25 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Fab Pine, you’re having seasonal amnesia. Nobody wants Bixi operating from November to March for excellent reasons.

    • DeWolf 22:37 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      I think there’s a case to be made for extending the season to April 1-December 1, but yeah, there’s no way it is compatible with Montreal snow removal.

    • Fab Pine 12:47 on 2017/06/16 Permalink

      I don’t think I’m suffering from amnesia (how would I know?). If the bike paths can be cleared for 12 months, and if cars can be removed before snowplow operations, then it is logistically possible to keep Bixi going all year. And this might be a boon to winter tourism as well.

  • Kate 10:22 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    Plateau borough has cancelled plans for a Saint-Jean event in Lafontaine Park, citing security concerns.

  • Kate 10:12 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    A man was badly injured Tuesday evening in the front driveway of a posh apartment building downtown when a driver allegedly “stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake” in that spot.

    I don’t drive, but I don’t understand how a lifelong driver can make this mistake.

    • Blork 10:56 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      You’d be surprised. The driver was 71, might not have been wearing “sensible shoes” and for all we know suffers some kind of peripheral neuropathy (age, diabetes, various inflammatory diseases can cause this, etc.). The gas pedal and the brake pedal are operated by feel (you can’t really see them), so if you have a problem with the feeling in your feet it’s totally possible. Not in general, but if there’s a distraction, or if the person’s attention was on steering around that driveway instead of where her foot was…

      Lots of speculation of course, but I hear about this kind of thing fairly often. (Almost always elderly drivers.)

    • Douglas 17:58 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Old age.

      My mom is avoiding driving because of sudden mental lapses.

    • Kevin 22:10 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      I’m glad your mother is sensible enough to do that. Too many baby boomers (and those a bit older) are not ready to take that step.

    • Bill Binns 09:37 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      This is a very common problem with elderly drivers. People drive through the front windows of convenience stores and other businesses literally hundreds of times a year in The US (almost always elderly people).

      Again, this is exactly why having cars push through crowds of shoppers at Jean Talon is such a bad idea. In this case it was one person who was injured. Could have been a lot worse.

  • Kate 10:02 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    A new website shows rent and other conditions in hundreds of apartments around town, but landlords don’t like it. After all, they benefit if potential tenants aren’t well informed.

    La Presse considers the powerless position of undocumented migrants vis-à-vis landlords.

    • Jonathan 08:07 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Interesting to see La Presse write about the landlord/migrant dynamic since this is the subject of my recent research in Vietnam. I looked at the ways landlords exploited unregistered rural to urban migrants in Hanoi.

      It’s a recurring theme everywhere this power dynamic exists i guess!

  • Kate 01:46 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    A clinic has opened to serve migrants with no health insurance.

  • Kate 01:44 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    Projet Montréal has characterized Denis Coderre as a feudal overlord after the dismissal from their positions of two elected representatives who didn’t come to heel. Coderre claims he isn’t purging his rivals, although sacking the very last man standing from the Coalition party feels petty at best.

    Coderre’s given Marvin Rotrand’s job to Elsie Lefebvre, still technically an independent. How long do we give her before she too is absorbed by the Coderre juggernaut?

    • ant6n 08:01 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      I hear rumors Rotrand used to be very activisty, but that was a long time ago. He was first elected when Drapeau was still mayor.

    • Michael Black 09:00 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Yes, he was with the MCM. He was elected in 1982, wikipedia says he’s now the longest serving Montreal city councillor.


    • Jack 09:31 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      It would be an absolute shame if Elsie Lefebvre gets “absorbed”, she is a good local rep. in a party where that often doesn’t matter.

    • Chris 09:48 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Jack: you think Coderre would have given her the job if she hadn’t already agreed to switch? hahaha

    • Jack 10:23 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Sadly I think your right.

    • rue david 13:45 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      could even elsie be elected under the coderre banner up in villeray?

    • Kate 15:13 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      rue David, why not? The borough mayor is a Coderre party member and so are 3 of the 4 councillors. Only one council member was elected from Projet, in the eastern end of the borough. Elsie Lefebvre would very likely be re-elected regardless of who she joins up with.

    • rue david 18:58 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      i guess maybe you’re right. my sense is that residents of the more central neighborhoods of montreal continue to shift toward the political platform that PM supports and that despite whatever personal popularity the mayor has managed to gin up, the people who vote tend to be those with the strongest opinions on the shape of their neighborhoods. but with elsie and real menard going coderre, their calculus is that the mayor’s team is the one to beat right now. so probably i’m wrong. they’d definitely have a finer sense of it that i do.

      still, if a really strong candidate emerged for PM, say thomas mulcair, who could re-focus the election to a discussion of the issues rather than personality/name recognition, i bet my thesis would likely look pretty good.

    • rue david 21:25 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      And Mr. Mulcair or Mr. Boulerice, if either of you are reading this, the Quebec Election Act provides that in Quebec members of the House of Commons are fully eligible to run for mayor or municipal council without resigning, but must resign from the Parliament within 31 days of taking the oath of municipal office. See http://www.legisquebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/ShowDoc/cs/E-2.2

    • ant6n 23:39 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      You want Mulcair to run for mayor and split the progressive vote? That’d be like Melanie Joly all over again.

    • Kate 01:22 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      rue david, ViSaMiPex may border Rosemont-PP, but its demographics are quite different and can be hard to pin down. The borough is a sandwich, and a lot of the folks living in the bread parts, Park Ex and St-Michel, are not citizens so cannot vote. Many Park Ex voters are older Greek people, who will vote for Mary Deros so long as she runs. (They’re also the folks who sent Gerry Sklavounos to the National Assembly.) Northern St-Michel understandably returned Coderre’s Frantz Benjamin, who’s of Haitian origin. But instead of going Projet, the sandwich filling of Villeray proper voted for Elsie Lefebvre, who was then with Coalition Montréal. I would be prepared to place a sizable bet Lefebvre will be running under the Coderre banner for November, although I’d be pleased if she went Projet instead.

      Curiously, the only Projet councillor who got elected in ViSaMiPex in 2013 was Sylvain Ouellet, in the François-Perreault district, the old Ville St-Michel that clusters around the octagonal park in the southeastern end of the borough. All I know about the profile of the folks who live around there is that they voted Projet. Although I doubt Ouellet can get any Projet-ish stuff done in a council so dominated by Coderre types, especially under a borough mayor like Anie Samson.

      ant6n, some time ago I floated the idea here that Projet needed to get itself a mayoral candidate with recognition factor and political star quality for a chance at unseating Denis Coderre. Mulcair’s name came up at that time. But it’s too late for anything like that to happen for November 2017.

    • rue david 12:54 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      it’s not too late for mulcair to lead PM!

    • Kate 13:58 on 2017/06/15 Permalink

      Yeah it is. They chucked that possibility when they held a standard party vote from within their own ranks – a contest in which several of their higher profile members declined to run. Unfortunately Projet’s party style rules out anything too razzmatazz.

  • Kate 01:38 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    A new report from Statistics Canada says hate crimes are on the rise but one activist is quoted as saying most such incidents are never even reported.

    • ant6n 08:03 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      (is there a non-closed italics tag here?)

    • Ephraim 09:34 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      The difference between crime and reported crime.

    • Kate 09:47 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      ant6n, my WordPress theme persists in inserting an em tag (and a blockquote and other stuff) in the “press this” box and I have to remove this junk every time. Now and then I mess up.

  • Kate 01:36 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    The opening of vanes in a dam near Lake Ontario is making the mighty St. Lawrence move a little faster.

  • Kate 01:13 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    Police cadets attempted to give a $1000 ticket to a woman going topless at Jeanne-Mance park recently. This CTV piece is a little incoherent, mind you, first telling us that it’s not illegal, and then quoting someone called André Durocher, whose authority is not made clear, saying “being topless is not a crime […] If you’re walking publicly on the street it is not illegal per se, however there is an infraction in the Crimininal [sic] Code that you could be disturbing the peace if you’re going around nude.”

    So it’s not illegal, but it might be defined as illegal, if enough people are disturbed by it?

    • Chris 07:49 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

    • Raymond Lutz 08:35 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Quelle est la différence entre l’indécence d’une poitrine nue et l’indécence d’une nuque ou d’une bouche découverte? See where I’m going? Will someday a right-wing christian nut throw acid on women exercising their rights because they’re offended?

    • Bert 08:39 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      It looks like young bullies are preparing to be old bullies. At first I was intrigued by “Police cadets attempted to give a $1000 ticket”, as I always thought that the Cadets had no powers. Reading the article it seems clearer that they were simply threatening to call their big-brother.

    • Bert 08:41 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Remember, Cadets are not police officers. They can not arrest you or ticket you.

      This is just a case of some young bullies threatening to call their big-brother.

    • Kevin 09:10 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      If the article is incoherent it is because the laws are vague with lits of wiggle room.

    • Kate 09:49 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Bert, so they say, but I was ticketed once when cycling in Parc de la Visitation. The path I was on was empty and I didn’t see the tiny “no bicycles” sign hidden among the trees. Not only did the excited cadet write me a $45 ticket, he tried demanding I call someone to verify my identity. I refused.

    • Ephraim 10:18 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Gee, must be from the boonies to be shocked by topless women.

    • Bert 10:48 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      Kate, I would question the legality of that ticket. On the SPVM page, Cadets ticketing is limited to parking violations: https://www.spvm.qc.ca/en/Pages/Careers/Cadets/Discover-the-work-of-a-police-cadet

      Also, googling I found this page that explicitly mentions tickets issued by a police officer, but on a separate note might allow pedestrians and cyclists to get out of some tickets: https://www.spvm.qc.ca/en/Pages/Discover-SPVM/Projects/Trade-in-your-ticket

      I know we have had similar discussions in the past.

    • Blork 11:02 on 2017/06/14 Permalink

      I suspect the entire episode was an excuse for the cadets to spend an extended time standing there looking at her.

  • Kate 00:26 on 2017/06/14 Permalink | Reply  

    Quebec government engineers have suspended their strike and will take a couple of weeks for union members to consider the government’s offer.

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