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  • Kate 10:23 on 2014/12/19 Permalink | Reply  

    Good article on the secret to the Uber economy. Excellent lede – this kind of one-to-one servic flourishes in a society with a lot of poor people willing to turn a quick buck offering services, it’s not a sign of economic health.

    Local taxi groups say the taxi business is already starting to crumble.

  • Kate 09:27 on 2014/12/19 Permalink | Reply  

    François Cardinal had a look at Ste-Catherine Street this week and found it filthy and non‑festive, as if the city had abandoned keeping it clean for winter.

    • Chris 09:53 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      How that’s different from every street every year?

    • Blork 09:57 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      I can’t believe he even found some garbage bins. I usually have to walk blocks and blocks at a time before I find one (especially when away from Ste-Catherine).

    • Kate 10:25 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      Chris, usually the grottiness we see as snow finally recedes in mid- to late March is blamed on the three to four prior months of people dropping garbage in snowbanks and the city prioritizing snow clearance over cleanliness. It’s not usually bemoaned as early as December 18.

    • Noah 16:04 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      It actually does seem worse than usual. I went downtown last Friday night and the sidewalks were impassable in several areas.

    • Steph S 17:57 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      The Aritizia construction mentioned in the article is really bad. People have to walk into the street to get around that one. Let alone if you are in a wheelchair or with a stroller.

  • Kate 08:46 on 2014/12/19 Permalink | Reply  

    Various year-end retrospectives are coming in, not least the UPAC summary of the year. UPAC head Robert Lafrenière thinks things are looking up with 15 arrests for fraud against the government, and 42 investigations still under way. Lafrenière is also said to have his eye on Hydro-Quebec. Probes within the political world are also being resolved. Lafrenière also spoke about the importance of educating people and changing the culture so corruption can’t take hold again.

    Infrastructure czar Lionel Perez also says he thinks things are looking up with city contracting procedures and competition is working better.

    Honestly, I can’t tell whether this kind of thing really is changing our culture, or whether this is well-intentioned smoke and mirrors while the same-old same-old stuff goes on behind the scene, evolving to hide from the spotlights until a new generation uncovers it and is outraged in their turn.

  • Kate 08:37 on 2014/12/19 Permalink | Reply  

    The contractor was chosen this week for the massive project of rebuilding the Turcot. A consortium called KPH Turcot will sign the contract in February. KPH Turcot is led by two U.S.‑based firms called Kiewit and Parsons. Le Devoir notes that UPAC czar Robert Lafrenière was present at the announcement, which is a statement in itself.

    • Dave M 09:41 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      If it’s a statement, it’s not a particularly clear one. I’m trying to figure out how to interpret it.

      1. That UPAC can’t really be trusted either? or
      2. That UPAC is already keeping a close eye on them? or
      3. That the U.S firms are beyond reproach? (ha ha)

    • Clément 10:27 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      The biggest contract that Transport Québec has ever handed out (one of the biggest public contract ever in our province) and the profits are going to the US!

      They’re not even trying to pretend to support the local economy anymore…

    • Kate 10:29 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      Dave M: I’m assuming 2., or at least that the government wants to telegraph that it’s inviting UPAC to keep an eye on all the procedures, so the populace should trust them.

  • Kate 08:32 on 2014/12/19 Permalink | Reply  

    Despite stories about fines being down because of police protests, the SPVM gave out roughly 150,000 tickets per month this year – the highest rate in all of Quebec although Quebec City sees higher fines overall.

    One SPVM cop has been handing out $100 bills instead of tickets, choosing people driving older vehicles as suitable recipients of his largesse.

  • Kate 08:20 on 2014/12/19 Permalink | Reply  

    A man was shot dead in Rivière-des-Prairies on Thursday evening, where police found him on the sidewalk of a residential street. The man was not known to police and no arrests have been made. It’s the 27th homicide of the year.

  • Kate 21:38 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Saku Koivu was honoured in a retirement ceremony at the Bell Centre on Thursday evening, in contrast to the offhand way he was let go at the end of his stint as the Canadiens’ captain in 2009.

  • Kate 16:40 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    I dropped a hint the other day about my Amazon wishlist (in the sidebar) and some kind person has sent me a copy of Vivre Montréal 1920-1969 anonymously. Thank you, kind benefactor, and happy holidays to you!

    • Doobious 19:33 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Someone must’ve been significantly more nice than naughty this year. Congrats!

  • Kate 15:34 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Pamela Porter, wife of Arthur T., has pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering in connection with the MUHC fraud case. That item’s just a link to audio file from the radio. Porter claims she was a pawn, but she must do 24 more months of prison.

  • Kate 14:57 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio-Canada lists its twelve notable events of the year in Montreal.

    • Blork 15:11 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Sheesh, what a gyp. They didn’t even mention the time I ate that whole goddamn pizza all by myself!

    • Daisy 16:21 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Surely it is not necessary to use words that are considered derogatory to a particular ethnic group.

    • Blork 16:25 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Daisy, that is clearly said as a joke, and in a vaudevillian tone of voice. Therefore it is necessary.

    • jeather 16:38 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Ironic racism is the funniest?

    • Kate 16:44 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      languagehat writes about “gyp”. Worth a read.

    • Sugar Sammy 16:47 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      I thought it was hilarious.

    • Blork 17:24 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      To any Roma reading this: tell a Newfie joke and we’re even.

    • thomas 17:54 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Why do you connect gyp with gypsy? The OED etymology points to other more likely sources.

    • Ian 08:54 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      My edition gives origin as “unknown”. It is a pretty widely-held belief popularly that it originated as a slur against Gypsies so why not just avoid it? Like how nobody says “niggardly” anymore.

    • dwgs 09:24 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      People not saying niggardly anymore is just stupid, it’s just a homophone. (Is it still okay to be a homophone?)
      From wikipedia,

      “Niggardly” (noun: “niggard”) is an adjective meaning “stingy” or “miserly”, perhaps related to the Old Norse verb nigla = “to fuss about small matters”.[1] It is cognate with “niggling”, meaning “petty” or “unimportant”, as in “the niggling details”.

      “Nigger”, which has become a racist insult in English, derives from the Spanish/Portuguese word negro, meaning “black”, and the French word nègre. Both negro and noir (and therefore also nègre and nigger) ultimately come from nigrum, the accusative singular masculine & neuter case of the Latin masculine adjective niger, meaning “black” or “dark”.

    • Kate 12:30 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      dwgs, since we mostly speak French in public situations here it’s seldom likely to arise, but don’t tell me you’d go into a bar, for example, and tell the bartender not to be niggardly with the booze.

      I am well aware of the etymology. But there’s even a wikipedia page covering mishearings of the word. “Nigger” is such a hot button word (in fact, someone’s probably wondering why I didn’t write “the N-word”) that it’s probably wiser to avoid the consternation of even having it misheard, I think.

      I have not heard most people speak about being gypped, in recent years. Most people would say they were scammed or some other slangy expression less likely to irritate.

      I like the quote from James Poniewozik in that Wikipedia article, re “niggardly”: “In theory, you, I and the columnist next door will defend to the death our right to say ‘niggardly.’ But in practice, will we use it?”

    • Blork 13:30 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      I agree with Kate. Even if the origin of “niggardly” is innocent enough, not everyone’s a linguist and it’s enough that it *sounds* bad (and anachronistic).

      The origin of “gyp” isn’t known to most people. That said, I know the origin, and I never use the word unless it’s in the context of something absurd. And when I used it yesterday it was in a full, 360-degree, three-dimensionally absurd sentence. I mistakenly assumed that everyone reading would get that.

    • carswell 14:44 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      Where does it stop? Some people consider the innocuous “call a spade a spade” a racist expression. Should their ignorance be allowed to govern English usage?

    • jeather 16:04 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      Perhaps people understood how you were intending to use it, but disagreed with it, Blork?

    • TC 23:21 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      I’d bet that most people do not associate “gyp” with gypsies/Roma. Think of Dutch treat, go Dutch, Dutch uncle, Dutch courage, Dutch comfort. They have lost their connection to a specific people or nation.

  • Kate 12:36 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    The recent thaw in US-Cuba relations will affect some things here: a special relationship between Ameublement Elvis and the Cuban régime to sell used appliances there is likely to end; cheap Quebec getaways to a place where prices are not inflated by American tourists are likely also at an end.

    • Blork 12:48 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      On the other hand, maybe the quality of the food will increase at those uncheapening getaways. (I have not been to a Cuban getaway, but from what I hear the food ranges between “awful” and “not very good.” Also, there may be few USers, but there is no shortage of Europeans.)

    • ant6n 13:22 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      So far they are only talking about business and family travel; tourists still won’t be allowed.
      Those Cuban vacations don’t seem that much cheaper than other Caribbean packages – the value is probably very similar.

    • Blork 13:54 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      What is the separation between “family travel” and “tourists?”

    • rue david 14:04 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      i can confirm both that the cuban vacations are the cheapest of the caribbean options (though i’ve seen some late january puerto rico flights at ~$150 r/t over the years) and that the food in cuba is horrifically bad. i’ve been to cuba twice, both times on winter vacations that cost next to nothing. last time i went (february 2012), 5 days air + hotel, the price for a couple was 370 bones, so 185 each. only downside was that i pretty much fasted the entire time because the food was so bad. each meal seemed worse than the next, i actually lost weight even through i was drinking heavily from the moment i woke up. we’re talking pasta that’s basically spaghetti and ketchup, omelets with cuban velveeta on them, entire plates where none of the food has salt. on the airplane back home, i savored every morsel of the airline sandwich and then upon landing we took a taxi straight to the banquise (only thing open) and each of us had a large galvaude to ourselves. brrr.

      by contrast, cuban food in miami is pretty much amazing, so it is possible.

    • Bill Binns 14:10 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      If they do open it up to American tourists, you probably won’t want to visit anyway. I can see Cuba getting turned into a cheaper version of Cabo for drunken American spring breakers really fast. I have never been but really want to get down there before there is a Senor Frogs or a Chili’s on every corner.

    • Joe 14:40 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      David, $185 each including air fare? Where the heck did you stay, a hole in the ground? I have a hard time believing that price, it doesn’t even cover airfare. If you really did get that deal, what did you seriously expect from your stay? I’m always shocked that people expect amazing food at any resort down south. The last time I went to Cuba a couple of years ago the food was edible but only because we went to what was considered a 5 star which would be a 3-3.5 anywhere else.

    • rue david 15:01 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      we stayed about 15 minutes outside of havana and spent all day every day in havana. the price was just off expedia. january/february, emcee, it gets nutso cheap.

    • Michael Black 15:06 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      There was an article in The Walrus a few years back, which is actually on their page today, It was about how expected tipping was. So everything seemed to require tipping, which may explain low prices. Things are priced low, but the tip brings it up.


    • ant6n 18:24 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Well, I dunno about 3 star resorts in the middle of February; but this xmas and new year, the 4-5 star resorts are like 1000-1500$ for a week, basically the same as if you go to the Dominican Republic. And Havana over new year, if you want to stay in the city, seems pretty booked.

    • TC 01:49 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      Well, then. This American reader is looking forward to a trip that will be easier and cheaper to book direct from the States. A couple of years ago I had a chance to go on a week-long tour, via an arts organization, but decided against it given the 3000 $US price, which did not include an additional 500 $US for the flights between Miami and Havana.

      Friends who have visited Cuba have told me the same things about the food as other commenters . If all you want is to go to the beach and eat, I think other places in the Caribbean are a better bet. I’ve been to quite a few of them. For me, a trip to Cuba would be to experience a different culture, language and perspective.

    • Josh 13:33 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      Blork: “Family travel” refers to people who actually have family to visit in Cuba.

  • Kate 12:32 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    A new method for breaking into cars has all the Lestrades of the SPVM puzzled.

  • Kate 12:25 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio-Canada looks at the influence of Romanian Jewish cuisine on Montreal. Link to audio report, and a link to the Mile End Memories website.

  • Kate 11:50 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Emma Czornobaj, the woman who stopped her car to save ducklings and indirectly caused the death of two people on a motorbike, will have to serve 90 days in jail, on weekends, plus some community service and probation. I think the most important penalty may be that she’s also forbidden to drive for ten years. The incident happened on autoroute 10 in Candiac in 2010.

    How will she get to and from jail? Do jails even have prisoner parking?

    • Bill Binns 14:18 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Another victory for the amazing Quebec criminal justice system. She will do more time in jail than Turcotte did for killing his two children with his own hands. All for an innocent (if possibly dumb) mistake.

    • Blork 15:08 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      “Possibly dumb”? How about colossally dumb?

      I get your point, but let’s not gloss over the fact that coming to a full stop on an autoroute, IN THE FAST LANE, is mind-boggling stupid, even if it was to save baby ducks.

    • Mathieu 15:49 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      I hate that comparison with Turcotte’s case as they’re wildly different cases. But if we’re to compare, both killed two people and only one of the two can be considered a danger to society and has no remorse: it’s the girl.

      Even though she wanted to do good, she was highly negligent and should have known that she was dangerous to others. It was not an innocent mistake; no one in his right mind would consider stopping in the left lane of the highway (not the curb, the actual lane) to save ducklings that aren’t even in the way a normal and safe behavior. And as she shows no sign of understanding that it’s highly dangerous, she’s clearly a danger to society. She needs to be put apart for a time to learn that. She will be free to do anything she wants afterward, no one will remember her by her name anyway (ask around and no one knows her by her name).

      Meanwhile, Turcotte is very unlikely to kill any other human and presents no sign that he might commit another crime ever. His crime is clearly a consequence of mental troubles and despair and although is might not excuse anything (we’ll see that during the second trial), the situation is resolved (he’s been followed by psychiatrists for long enough for us to know that). His life in Quebec is already ruined as everyone knows him and what he did. He will never get a job and will never be able to simply do his groceries alone. He will pay longer for it than her while not being dangerous anymore.

      BTW, Kate, she’s not allowed to drive for at leat 10 years, so she won’t be driving to prison. But there are buses going to all prisons.

    • Bill Binns 16:10 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      She created a dangerous situation that inadvertently led to the death of 2 people. The person driving the motorcycle has some portion of the blame here as he somehow did not see a stopped car in the middle of the highway.

    • Blork 16:23 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Interesting perspective, Mathieu, but I disagree that the duck woman represents much of a threat to society. For one thing, she’s not allowed to drive. And if/when she ever does get behind the wheel, it’s highly unlikely she will make the same mistake.

      As for what you describe as her inability to understand that what she did was wrong, I’m going to put on my amateur psychologist hat again and speculate. It’s possible that she isn’t accepting responsibility because she is unable to internalize her share of the blame for self-preservation reasons. As in, if she were to accept it, it would be overwhelming and she might have a mental breakdown. I’m not saying it’s right to behave like this; in fact it’s a sign of emotional immaturity. But it is the way the mind sometimes works. And again, this is SPECULATION because I’ve never met her and I don’t know anything about her. I’m speaking in generalities only.

      (BTW, Bill Binns is correct that the deceased motorcycle driver does bear some of the responsibility.)

      I’m also not convinced that Turcotte is so “in the clear.” We have seen how far down the hole he is capable of going, and I don’t know why some people think it is inconceivable that he could go down it again. (Again, speaking in generalities.)

    • Chris 19:24 on 2014/12/18 Permalink

      Light sentence if you ask me. Only 90 days, and only on weekends. Not so bad. The important thing is she won’t be driving for a long while. Thank god.

    • Kevin 08:26 on 2014/12/19 Permalink

      It annoys me that so many commenters, even after this case is completed, say the riders are at fault for speeding.

      Police and the judge said the motorcyclists bore little to no responsibility for the crash.
      They were travelling at normal highway speeds; Czornobaj had parked her car in a lane and was obscured by a curve; she was distracting drivers by walking on the median waving at ducks.

      Nobody travels the speed limit in North America, nobody is expected to, our roads and highways and law enforcement are all designed accordingly.

      There are many dangerous aspects to driving, but being on the highway is one of the safest spots you can be

  • Kate 10:56 on 2014/12/18 Permalink | Reply  

    Plateau borough council has voted to support 30 km/h speed limits on its local streets.

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