Updates from August, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 21:43 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    The rentrée is going to be accompanied by a new debate on reasonable accommodations for religious attire. Now we’re discussing refusing someone public transit or access to a public library if veiled; I hope the Hippocratic Oath would make doctors ignore any demand that they refuse medical care.

    Martin Patriquin foresees another provincial election turning on identity politics. Attache ta tuque!

    • John B 08:49 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      The PQ proposed that “a state employee should not be allowed to wear a chador, niqab or burka while working,

      Islamophobic much? If we’re going to ban coverings, ban coverings, not just coverings worn by people of a certain religion.

      Or, we could just drop the whole thing and get on with legislating things that matter.

    • Viviane 13:32 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      John B, this is about face coverings, where only the eyes can be seen. It’s not an issue with other religions or non-religious people.

    • John B 13:43 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      Still, if we’re going to ban face coverings, just ban face coverings. There’s no reason to call out specific garments worn by one religion only.

    • Kate 20:05 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      That’s disingenuous, Viviane. No other religion dictates, or suggests, anyone cover their face.

      What reasons do we have for face covering?
      – Someone has had a disfiguring injury to the face. I don’t know what the stats on these are like but it was mentioned in passing in election day training once, as a legitimate reason for keeping the face covered; I seem to recall the person also had to present a doctor’s letter or the like. It never once came up in the course of the election, nor did we expect it to.
      – Hiding the face for criminal reasons, as during a holdup.
      – Hiding the face for political protest, which includes people from other countries who want to be able to protest here while concealing their identity from possible detection back home.
      – Religion, in this sense Islam and specifically women. If anyone knows of other religions mandating face coverings I would like to know.

      The issue of people working for the government with a face covering angers me. I don’t believe this situation has ever arisen or is ever likely to arise. But it’s used as a stalking horse for threats not to give services to women who prefer to cover their faces. A woman on CBC radio this morning says women in niqab are perfectly prepared to raise the veil if needed for identification or security – so what’s our problem?

    • John B 20:43 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      When writing my last couple comments I assumed there was some other religion somewhere where people covered their face. If there is really only one religion that does any face-covering then it doesn’t matter what it says, it’s clearly an Anti-Muslim law.

      “so what’s our problem?” I guess the problem is that some, (most?), of the provincial parties feel they need a bogieman to chase in order to get, (or stay), elected.

    • jeather 10:58 on 2017/08/17 Permalink

      There is also hiding the face during cold weather, like when on public transit or outside in the winter.

    • Kate 15:19 on 2017/08/17 Permalink

      And various forms of disguise for performances.

  • Kate 20:34 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    Ireland’s gay taoiseach will be walking with Justin Trudeau in the pride parade Sunday.

  • Kate 19:03 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    Valérie Plante’s first campaign posters are up, calling her l’homme de la situation, a choice of slogan that’s provoked comment.

    • Dhomas 19:11 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      When I saw that slogan, I just knew it must be an adaptation from the English “The right man for the job”. Sure enough, that is their slogan on the English site: http://en.projetmontreal.org/launch.

  • Kate 19:00 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    For years, there’s been a plaque on the Union Street side of the Bay store, noting that Jefferson Davis had lived in the area. CBC’s Sarah Leavitt just tweeted that the plaque has been taken down.

    That’s three Confederacy stories here in one day.

    • Ephraim 19:25 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      Basically it was a “Jefferson Davis once slept here sign” noting the house that he slept in, that was at that location. Never really thought about it, but I can see the reasons some object to it.

    • Kate 19:59 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      La Presse’s version of the story has a clearer photo of the plaque.

    • Zeke 20:03 on 2017/08/15 Permalink


      That’s unfortunate. the reason he was up here, was because it was untenable for his family to live in the US after he lost the civil war. His wife and three kids moved up here so as to avoid the ostracisation, taunting and hate. (No matter what you think, it was way worse in the 1860s than it is now).

      Jefferson Davis was kept in stocks for three years after the war, not allowed any visitors, and in general was in a much worse and dire situation than Omar Khadr. His lawyer was finally able to get him out on bail (or the equivalent at that time) and he made it up here to be with his kids and wife.

      After staying on Union Street (I do not know if it was called that in 1869/70 – but the irony is priceless) for a couple of months, the family moved to another house owned by Lovell on Mountain – I think somewhere around where the restaurant Europea is now.

      He tried to raise some money to live and was given promises by people in the UK. If my memory is correct, he sailed to London was unsuccessful in raising the money, moved the whole family down to Lennoxville and then disappears off my radar. it also might have been the other way around (Lennoxville then London).

      I always appreciated the fact that back in the 1860s Montreal accepted with open arms, political prisoners from other countries. I also adored the fact that within a two block stretch downtown there was a really bad, larger than life statue of Maurice Richard (one of four in town), a park dedicated to and a bust of Raoul Wallenberg, plaques explaining the connections between the steeple of Christ Church Cathedral and the stars and the plaque to Jefferson Davis.

    • Zeke 20:05 on 2017/08/15 Permalink


      If anyone really cared about what was happening in Charlottesville and wanted to get rid of any association with it here in Montreal, they would rename the Lionel Groulx metro station…

    • Taylor C. Noakes 20:41 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      I’m divided on this. On the one hand, to hell with Jefferson Davis and everything he stood for, the racist prick.

      On the other hand, the plaque didn’t exactly praise Davis or the Confederacy. It simply stated that he lived in a house located where the Bay now stands (and that it was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy).

      The historian in me questions whether this was the right move, as the plaque could lead the curious to ask “why did Davis come here, of all places?”

      That in turn leads to an interesting discovery of Montreal’s role during the American Civil War, of British support for the Confederacy and Montreal’s position in weapons shipments and intelligence gathering.

      In other words, the plaque in and of itself was inoffensive and could prompt an investigation into Montreal’s pre-Confederation history, a discussion about private monuments/lieux-de-mémoire in the public realm, or lead to a conversation concerning some of the darker episodes of our city’s history.

      With the plaque removed, it’s as if Davis was never here.

      I can’t help but feel we’re doing ourselves and history a disservice, that this is a kind of ‘whitewashing’ that makes it seem we’ve always been on the ‘right’ side of history.


    • Kate 21:04 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      Thoughts, but not a coherent argument:

      Simply putting a plaque at all is a kind of honour, it doesn’t have to say “what a great guy!” Reading it, you have to assume someone thought Davis’s significance made him worth a memorial of that kind.

      Yes, removing this plaque, like the planned removal of the plaques about Maisonneuve killing the Iroquois chief, deletes information from easy public accessibility. Partly I like to think we should know Maisonneuve wasn’t just a founder of the city but capable of being a brutal colonialist – but I’m not aboriginal, and if they think the plaque feels more like a boast than a shamefaced admission, that’s not unreasonable.

    • Taylor C. Noakes 21:39 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      I don’t think any kind of plaque is a de facto honour. Consider any and all plaques related in any way to the Holocaust. I’m fairly certain none of them honour the Nazis.

      Same thing re: Robben Island in South Africa. I would prefer locations of residential schools have plaques indicating they existed and would further want the same to indicate what atrocities were committed there. The plaques are neutral. It’s entirely possible the DOTC chose their words very carefully so as not to offend local sensibilities (or Morgan’s Department Store). If the language was purposefully neutral, and intended only to indicate that a person of historical (though not necessarily good) significance lived in a particular location, I feel it should have been left alone, and/or incorporated into some kind of updated historical marker (e.g. a small sign with a url or bar code that would link to the city’s history page which would provide a more detailed explanation as to why it’s there).

      It’s better, IMO, to face the past head on rather than hide only the parts we no longer like.

      As to the BMO plaque, a similar ‘update’ could have been provided, though in that specific case the plaque was also of questionable historical accuracy.

    • DeWolf 02:21 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      If worded appropriately, plaques can prompt reflection rather than a sense of admiration. Paris has many plaques along the lines of “X number of Jewish children in this block were murdered by the Nazis.” It’s haunting. I think a similar plaque could be installed noting Davis’ role in the Confederacy and Montreal’s role in supporting it.

    • ant6n 09:27 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      A thought: the plaques related to the holocaust usually honor the victims.

    • carswell 09:53 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      Historical import aside, do we want our city to be home to any propaganda vehicle for a white supremacist group like the United Daughters of the Confederacy? You can be sure they viewed and probably still view the plaque as more than a historical marker.

    • Douglas 10:02 on 2017/08/16 Permalink


      Nice write up. Its always good to know the history of things

    • SMD 10:07 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      I think there is some important context being left aside here. The plaque wasn’t put up after his death in 1889, it was put up in 1957 (along with many of the monuments and plaques that are being contested now) as a way to counter the thrust of the civil rights movement. As such, it belongs in a museum where this context can be explained, not in a public place. I like Rebecca Solnit’s thoughtful take on the issue of these monuments.

    • JaneyB 10:31 on 2017/08/16 Permalink

      I would keep the old objectionable plaques but erect additional markers referring to the victims and their stories in the city. Can’t do much about statues of Kings and Queens but everybody else, sure. Part of the reason why the baddies stand out is because they have the floor to themselves. I think keeping evidence of the old colonial/racist, especially with additional commemorations to Aboriginal people, former slaves, women etc helps people remember that history is *made* by people. The old days were as contentious as today and public opinion is the result of individual acts of agreement – that can change over generations. Everything that reminds us that history is dynamic, made by people just like us, living in a community just like ours, is important. It’s far from flat and finished.

    • Kate 09:07 on 2017/08/19 Permalink

      I’ve been pondering this on and off all week, JaneyB. Others have also suggested a sort of footnote plaque: “In 2017, on consideration, the community has decided that this wasn’t so cool after all.”

      History is always going to be reassessed in view of evolving attitudes. Yes, some people were definitively evil bastards at the time and everyone knew it. But no historical figure of importance can have been 100% benevolent. Jeanne Mance was a running dog lackey of colonialism, seen from one perspective.

  • Kate 07:08 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    Denis Coderre is holding his line on welcoming asylum seekers to Montreal while J-F Lisée plays to his constituency by saying he’d bar them at the border.

    I’d like to think Coderre’s motives are good ones, but for two things. He knows his old supporters in his bailiwick in Montreal North will approve. Simply good politics toward his reelection. And he knows that, regardless of his claim of heading a sanctuary city, it’s other levels of government that will largely be paying the bill to help the newcomers settle in.

    • Faiz Imam 13:32 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      And as the migrant activist community has said for months now, there is no substance to coderre’s sanctuary city proclamation. He’s said the words, but many of the institutional barriers that migrants face (that are supposed to not be there in a “sanctuary” city) are as present as ever.

  • Kate 06:57 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    The Globe and Mail quickly profiles a few apparel companies here ahead of a fashion festival.

  • Kate 06:52 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    A segment of Côte-des-Neiges is the city’s most linguistically diverse area with 46 languages spoken at home besides English and French. CBC talks to a few of its denizens.

    • Ian 10:18 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      Not much of a surprise. I spent an afternoon at Kent Park with my daughter and the contrast between that and the crowd at, say, Parc Jeanne-Mance couldn’t be greater. We were one of the only two whiteys in the whole place, and I heard almost no English or French being spoken. It was kind of refreshing, I miss the multiculturalism of other places I’ve lived. It’s also really localized, go south of Côte-Ste-Catherine and it’s like someone flipped an ethnic lightswitch.

    • carswell 13:42 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      Don’t you mean go north of Côte-Ste-Catherine, i.e. between Côte-Ste-Catherine and Jean-Talon?

    • David Speller 14:02 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      I guess it depends on if you’re turning the switch on or off.

    • Ian 15:31 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      @David exactly – I mean once you go south of CSC it go mostly white again.

  • Kate 06:48 on 2017/08/15 Permalink | Reply  

    A new book looks at the shady history of how Confederate leaders used Montreal as a base during the American civil war.

    The Confederacy is in our news Tuesday morning. The flag shop on Park Avenue at St-Viateur hung out a Confederate flag and people are not happy about it.

    • Dominic 09:14 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      Talk about tone deaf. I sincerely doubt the person who complained will get a WRITTEN apology though..

    • JoeNotCharles 10:53 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      I don’t think “tone deaf” has anything to do with it. That’s straight up white nationalism apologetics. Googling around “Chris Karidogiannis” to find out if he has a history of racism, I find that he also said this (about changes to parking rules in the Plateau):

      he called the plan a “new, left-wing, hippie, commie policy of getting rid of cars on the Plateau”


      Regardless of how you feel about the underlying business/taxation issues, that’s not the kind of language you use if you’re NOT a hardcore wingnut.

    • Ian 15:35 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      I’m sure he’d sell ISIS and Nazi flags if he thought there was a market for it. He may be a bit of a frothing-at-the-mouth kind of guy but at his core he’s just a businessman, not a radical alt-right guy. He also sells Patriote flags, it’s not like his merchandise reflects his politics beyond opportunistic capitalism.

    • Ephraim 16:51 on 2017/08/15 Permalink

      When John Wilkes Booth was captured, he had a bill of exchange (ie cheque) from the Ontario Bank (now part of the Bank of Montreal) in his pocket. His account has $455 on deposit for a very long time, family didn’t want to touch it, called it blood money.

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