Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer's Winners & Losers -- A Quebec Summary

From The Gazette:

It was, in the words of Environment Canada meteorologist René Héroux, a "rather miserable" summer. It wasn't so much the amount of precipitation, because the 224 millimetres of rain recorded up until last week in Montreal is only 12-per-cent higher than in any average summer season.

It was, rather, the frequency with which it fell - on 35 separate days in June and July - that set a record, slashing revenues for some and dampening spirits for many. The first two weeks of August were pretty miserable, too.

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Montreal's Last Streetcar Rolled Down The Tracks 49 Years Ago

From The Gazette:

Montrealers in their thousands turned out yesterday to cheer the streetcars they had jeered at for years as the trams made their last trip through the city.

- Gazette, Monday, Aug. 31, 1959

The sentimental journey began at Notre Dame St. and worked its dignified way north along Papineau Blvd. It was the old 54-Papineau route, and there was no rush, nor much clatter and screeching. The dozen streetcars moved along at just 15 kilometres an hour.

Starting the following day, the Montreal Transportation Commission would rely on buses exclusively. Trams, whether horse-drawn or electric-driven, had been part of the street scene for more than a century, but now their day was done.

Some of the streetcars that final day were relatively new, some much older. The oldest was the Rocket, Montreal's first electric tram which made its debut in 1892. In deference to its age, it made the journey aboard a flatbed truck, not on its own like the others.

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Live Harness Racing Returns To Hippodrome De Montréal

From The Gazette:

Bereft of live horse racing for more than two months, Hippodrome de Montréal could welcome back the trotters and pacers as early as next weekend.

At a meeting yesterday, provincial horsemen overwhelmingly approved a tentative agreement that would bring back live racing for 13 consecutive Sundays, Sept. 7 through Nov. 30.

The races presented would be restricted to Quebec-owned or Quebec-bred trotters and pacers age 2 and 3, who've had few opportunities to compete since the Montreal track shut down.

Read more .....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Family Seeks Inquiry Into Death Of Que. Man Tasered 6 Times


MONTREAL - Ask Marie-Jesula Registre whether she feels any anger over the fact a police Taser that fires a 50,000-volt charge was used six times on her son Quilem and may have played a role in his death last October and she replies softly, her eyes rimmed with tears.

"I'm a Christian. I don't keep anger in my heart. But this has been devastating blow for myself and our family. He was our only son."

Maria-Jesula, her husband Augustin-Francois and their daughters Francine and Chantal met with reporters Friday after a Quebec coroner added more questions to those the Registre family have had since Quilem's death on Oct. 18.

Read more ....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Class Action Sought Over C. Difficile Cases

Clostridium difficile bacteria

From The Gazette:

Relatives of patients who either were infected or died from C. difficile diarrhea during an outbreak at a St. Hyacinthe hospital in 2006 have launched a class
action against the local health authority for up to $10 million in damages.

The outbreak at Honoré Mercier Hospital was one of the worst in the province, killing 16 people. In total, 70 patients contracted a virulent strain of Clostridium difficile while being treated in the hospital.

"We want to send a strong message that infection control must be maintained as a priority by hospitals, administrators and staff," medical malpractice lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard told a news conference yesterday.

"It's not enough for public-health officials to say that it was a virulent strain."

Ménard added the Honoré Mercier outbreak is especially tragic because Quebec had already dealt with a C. difficile epidemic in 2004-2005, yet the Montérégie community hospital did not appear to have drawn any lessons from the earlier outbreaks.

Read more ....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Montreal Arts Community Protests Federal Funding Cuts

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

From The Gazette:

MONTREAL - Some of the biggest names in Montreal's arts community took to the streets this morning to protest cuts to a variety of federal arts programs.

In a rally that cut across partisan politics, artists including playwright Michel Tremblay, La La Human Steps founder Edouard Lock, dancer Margie Gillis, and theatre director Lorraine Pintal signed a letter urging the Harper government to rescind $46-million in cuts it has made to several arts funding programs. Although the government claims it has increased its investment in cultural programs, demonstrators say the government's claims are "a shell game."

"Not only are the Conservatives not interested in the creative process, they are afraid of culture," said Michel Tremblay. "What they have done to gut cultural programs is scandalous."

Read more ....

Listeriosis In Quebec

From CTV:

Health officials are investigating whether a second death in Quebec is linked to a bacterial outbreak related to tainted meat from Maple Leaf Foods. Listeria-contaminated meat is connected to several deaths in Canada. It has led to massive recall of Maple Leaf products.
Different sources
The Quebec Health and Agriculture departments say the cases of listeriosis in the province are from various random sources. So far one death in the province has been traced back to the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto.
Cases appear regularly
Since the first of January this year, 42 cases of listeriosis have been reported in Quebec.
Eight of those people have died.
Officials say the average age of the victims is 79.

There's Wealth In Your Water, Quebec Told

The CBC:

Quebec should tap into the growing thirst for water by laying the groundwork for bulk water exports that could earn the province billions of dollars a year, a conservative think-tank said Wednesday.

"Quebec must act and start looking seriously into the possibility of helping set up markets for water as a preferred means of meeting the imminent necessity of sharing water resources," the Montreal Economic Institute said in a report.

The province would generate $65 billion a year in revenue if it exported 10 per cent of the one trillion cubic metres of available fresh water, said the report prepared by Marcel Boyer, the group's chief economist.

The value of the "renewable fresh water" isn't certain, but the group based the potential value on the 65 cents it costs to desalinate a cubic metre of water.

Charging a 10 per cent royalty on exports would generate $6.5 billion a year for the provincial coffers.

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Quebec Government Sued For Buying Microsoft Software

From the CBC:

Facil wants ban on regulatory loophole that lets Quebec purchase proprietary software

Quebec's open-source software association is suing the provincial government, saying it is giving preferential treatment to Microsoft Corp. by buying the company's products rather than using free alternatives.

The lawsuit by Facil was lodged with the Quebec Superior Court on July 15 and made public on Wednesday. In it, the group says the provincial government has refused to entertain competing bids from all software providers, opting instead to supply public-sector departments with products bought from proprietary vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle Corp.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This Is Why I Know That There Will Be An Election Call Next Year

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean And Prime minister Stephen Harper

PM Cancels Jean's Beijing Trip, Fuelling Election Hype -- CBC

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean not to attend the Paralympic Games in Beijing, in a move further suggesting Harper will pull the plug on his current minority government and trigger a federal election.

The Prime Minister's Office announced late Tuesday that Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley will represent Canada in Jean's place at the Games, which open on Sept. 6. The decision allows Jean, who was to depart on Sept. 5, to remain in Ottawa, in case Harper asks her to dissolve Parliament.

The prime minister said he is continuing to consider whether an election needs to be called, a decision he has said he expects to make in the next few weeks. Senior Conservatives have suggested Harper could pull the plug on his government as early as Sept. 2.

"The country must have a government that can function during a time of economic uncertainty," Harper said Tuesday in Ottawa.

Read more ....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All Four Parties Have By-Election Fever In Montreal

Liberal leader Stephane Dion, right, and Marc Garneau, Canada's first man in
space and a Liberal candidate in Westmount-Ville-Marie.

From The National Post:

It has been one of those campaigns where even the separatist Bloc Québécois has allowed itself to run on an "anything is possible" theme.

With many voters largely oblivious to the fact they are going to the polls, five candidates have been quietly campaigning in the race for the Montreal riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie. The by-election, one of three being held in Canada Sept. 8, was called to replace long-time Liberal Lucienne Robillard, who has retired from politics.

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Montreal Flooded With Claims After Torrential Summer Downpour

From The Montreal Gazette:

More than 1,000 residents and businesses have filed claims for damages after a torrential rain storm hit Montreal in early August.

The Aug. 2 storm dumped about 30 millimetres of rain in 10 minutes, causing extensive flooding in Anjou and Saint-Leonard, two northeast Montreal boroughs.

The city of Montreal said it has recruited independent disaster experts who will review every claim and determine whether compensation is warranted.

Experts will focus on whether buildings subject to claims conformed with municipal regulations, and whether their sewer pipes were outfitted with security valves to block flooding.

But the Aug. 2 rainstorm was exceptional, said city spokesman Darren Becker.

Read more ....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Westmount-Ville-Marie -- A Federal Riding With 12,000 Who Are Homeless

Downtown Westmount

High Society, 12,000 Homeless -- The Montreal Gazette

WESTMOUNT PROPER is only part of the picture in what is, in fact, a sprawling urban riding

It has been one of those campaigns where even the separatist Bloc Québécois has allowed itself to run on an "anything is possible" theme.

With many voters largely oblivious to the fact they are going to the polls, five candidates have been quietly campaigning in the race for the Montreal riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie. The by-election, one of three being held in Canada Sept. 8, was called to replace long-time Liberal Lucienne Robillard, who has retired from politics.

The way the candidates tell it, they all have a shot at winning, even though the riding has voted Liberal for years. The one exception was in the 1958 election, when the Conservatives won. The riding has not voted anything but Liberal since. In the 2006 federal election, Robillard bagged 18,884 votes (45.7 per cent of the vote) compared with her nearest opponent, the Conservative, who got 7,295 (17.7 per cent).

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My Comment: 12,000 homeless!!!! I know that the problem is bad .... I see the homeless everyday. But 12,000!!!!

Painting A National Flag On Your Garage Door Is Ilegal In Montreal

Theodore Antonopoulos painted a Greek flag on his garage door in '04. Photograph by : JOHN KENNEY, GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Curtain Comes Down On Patriotic
Garage Door -- Montreal Gazette

Violates aesthetic standards. But Pierrefonds man leaves the door open to appeal following Superior Court ruling.

A Pierrefonds man has been ordered to remove the huge Greek flag painted on the garage door of his house because it violates the borough's aesthetic standards.

Quebec Superior Court judge France Charbonneau ruled last week that nothing prevents Theodore Antonopoulos from flying the Greek flag on his property, but that by painting blue and white stripes on his garage door he has violated municipal restrictions governing the overall look of the streetscape.

"A municipality has the authority to set uniform standards within its jurisdiction and for the buildings within it," Charbonneau writes.

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Terry DiMonte Returns To Montreal - Sort Of

From The Montreal Gazette:

You won't be able to catch him chowing down a burger at Cosmo's or knocking back a martini at Ziggy's, but fans will at least be able to hear Terry DiMonte's voice again on local airwaves. DiMonte will kick off a new noon-hour show today on Q92.

After 23 years as a morningman fixture on the radio dial here, DiMonte left CHOM (now owned by Astral Media) and Montreal last November to host the morning show on Calgary's Q107 (owned by Corus).

But while you could take the radio-jock out of Montreal, you couldn't take Montreal out of the radio-jock. "I've always felt like I was part of the fabric of Montreal, and looks like I am once more," DiMonte said last night.

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Stockwell Day Says Street Gang Prevention Having Positive Impact In Montreal

Stockwell Day

From The Canadian Press:
MONTREAL — Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day says federal government funding for street-gang prevention has had a positive effect in Montreal.

"We have increased the funding across the board when it comes to supporting police across the country," Day told The Canadian Press on Monday in a phone interview.

"We're always looking at what more needs to be done."

Day was in Montreal on Monday for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Conference.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced $92 million in funding over five years for street-gang prevention in Quebec.

On Sunday, Day joined anti-gang officers on a tour of a north-end Montreal neighbourhood that erupted into a riot earlier this month after police shot and killed 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva.

Read more ....

Update: Police chief conference begins in Montreal -- The Gazette

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Canadian Prime Mimister Harper Weighs Snap Election Call

From The Globe And Mail:

OTTAWA — The Governor-General could be asked to dissolve Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government in the first two weeks of September if high-pressure meetings with opposition leaders do not produce a deal for a fall agenda, a PMO official says.

Mr. Harper's team gave its clearest signal yet that the Conservative government will pull the plug before the Commons resumes sitting on Sept. 15, claiming Parliament is not functioning.

The Prime Minister has already said he will not be bound by the 2009 fixed election date he set, but a senior Tory made it clear that Mr. Harper is not talking about issuing an ultimatum that could lead the opposition to defeat it in the Commons, but rather dissolving Parliament before it sits.

The Prime Minister wants to meet with each of the three opposition leaders before Sept. 15 to seek "common ground" and then make a quick decision on whether it is worth resuming the session.

Read more ....

My Comment: In the event of an election call, this blog will examine the race from a Montreal perspective first, followed by a Quebec one.

If I was a betting man, I would bet that a Federal election will be called within the next two months. High oil prices are going to hit all Canadians hard in their home heating bills this winter .... having help the politician who must run in an election with that record come next spring time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How Quebec Truck Drivers Are Accomodating Themselves To the High Cost Of Fuel

Fill 'Er Up? Nah, Just Put In $985
-- The Montreal Gazette

Motorists griping about spending $80 to gas up the minivan these days should be happy they're not long-haul truckers.

Kevin Demick of St. Hubert pumps $985 worth of diesel fuel into his rig before making his weekly 2,000-kilometre trip down to southern Georgia or Alabama. And his tanks are still only two-thirds full.

Topping up his two 150-U.S. gallon (567-litre) reservoirs would cost more than $1,500. He stops short because his gas card maxes out at $1,000, and the pump can't go beyond $999.99 anyway - it lacks the extra digit to count into the thousands.

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A Federal Election Soon?

Canada PM's office pushes election, Liberals demur -- The Gazette

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is likely to head into a general election soon unless the minority Conservative government wins co-operation from at least one opposition party, an aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday.

Harper, whose government was elected in January 2006, will try to meet soon with the heads of the three opposition parties to find out if any sees room for letting the government proceed with its agenda this autumn, the aide said.

"If there is no consensus, I think it leads us on a path of going to the polls in the near future," the aide said. "If we're all agreed we're going to the polls, then why wait another two months before getting the nation's business done?"

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My Comment: Liberal support in western Montreal is incredibly soft. The voting intentions of my mother is indicative of what people are feeling here. She is a long time Liberal supporter, but this time she does not have the energy nor interest to support them. She always goes to the polls, but when she goes about voting Liberal it will be with an enthusiasm that is absent.

Montreal Police Seek To Block Inquiry

From Canwest News Service:

Two Montreal police officers involved in the death of Mohamed Anas-Bennis in December 2005 are seeking to block a public inquiry into his shooting. A petition filed in Quebec Superior Court yesterday said the inquiry, ordered by Quebec chief coroner Louise Nolet, was "useless" coming two year's after a coroner's report, and therefore illegal. Const. Yannick Bernier shot Mr. Bennis, who was returning home from a mosque, after they bumped into each other and Mr. Bennis allegedly attacked him with a kitchen knife.

Bennis's family Asks, What Do They Have to Hide? -- the Gazette
Montreal police try to block Bennis inquiry -- CBC

Montreal Canadiens: Price Gets Ready to Rumble

From The Montreal Gazette:

As we are debating about Carey Price's future season (will he be able to hold on? And the rest of the crew? Please drop your comments here), the young goaltender is making sure he will give the proper answer the way he wants it to be!

Indeed, after some well-deserved holidays and rest, Montreal's number one goaltender is back to business, getting ready for the big season ahead.

Last month, he left for Calgary to work with a personal trainer. He also met Eli Wilson, his goalie coach, who is also the Ottawa Senators' Roland Melanson.

Going back to skating was not the easiest part of the training. “You have to shake off the rust a little bit. The first three ice times I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing out there. You give it a week or two and you start to feel normal again.”

Read more ....

Update: Montreal Canadiens Team Report

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A New Chapter Begins For Montréal's Biodome And Nature Museums

From Zoo And Aquarium Visitor:

As announced in June of this year, Charles-Mathieu Brunelle has now taken over as Director of Montréal’s Nature Museums. Mr. Brunelle, an experienced manager and visionary, has been charged with pursuing the development of the four cultural and scientific institutions: the Montréal Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden and Planetarium.

“In joining the Museums, I want to get closer to life’s origins and everything that is at stake in this regard. I also want to kindle the debate and discussion on environmental issues, and get people thinking and talking about our role with regard to biodiversity,” says the new Director. There will be new projects to address these major challenges, along with other initiatives that are already underway, including the creation of the Montréal Biodiversity Centre and the new Planetarium.

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Que. Sovereignty A Tough Sell, Nationalist Concedes

From The Gazette:

BECANCOUR, Que. - With cynicism toward politicians in the air these days, sovereignty has become a tough sell, a prominent member of the Parti Quebecois said Wednesday.

But later, contradicting the remarks made by Rousseau MNA Francois Legault, PQ Leader Pauline Marois said Quebecers are "far from morose."

She conceded the PQ has work to do to regain the confidence of Quebecers - it placed third in the last election - but eliminating the sovereignty option is out of the question because people are looking for new options

"What I heard from Mr. Legault is that we have to work to re-mobilize people around the idea of sovereignty," Marois said. "Yes there is, from his point of view, a certain level of political disaffection, but that does not take away from us the responsibility (to work at sovereignty)."

The exchange came Tuesday at the opening of a two-day end of summer caucus of PQ MNAs.

The party is trying to get itself back on track after three MNAs signed a petition denouncing the presence of Beatles star Paul McCartney at festivities marking Quebec City's 400th anniversary.

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My Comment: Among all of my "Quebec nationalist" friends .... this is such a dead issue. Their concerns are on employment, wages, interest rates,taxes, the price of gas, and the price of oil for this winter.

No Plastic Water-Bottle Ban for Montreal

Montrealers won't want to hear it, but we're lagging behind Toronto.

City Hall there is considering a ban on the sale of single-use plastic water-bottles as part of a larger effort to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills.

The city of London, Ont., has already banned the sale of water bottles in their municipal buildings and more and more Canadian cities are considering doing the same.

Here in Montreal, the executive committee member responsible for environmental issues Alan Desousa tells CJAD news city hall is taking a different tack: advocating deposits on ALL single-use bottles including wine bottles.

Desousa says he's raised the issue at parliamentary hearings in Quebec City, calling for a province-wide deposit policy to encourage the return, re-use and recycling of single-use containers.

Montreal Lands On Boardwalk

From The Montreal Gazette:

Monopoly lovers Worldwide vote our town onto the most coveted spot, with St. Joseph's Oratory representing the city on its square. Toronto and Vancouver also make the cut

People from around the world will soon risk going to jail or going bankrupt, all for the chance of developing and mortgaging properties on Montreal.

The city has replaced the coveted and most expensive spot on the Monopoly board, that of the dark blue Boardwalk, in Hasbro Inc.'s new international version: Monopoly Here and Now: The World Edition.

For seven weeks in early 2008, more than 5.6 million Monopoly fans around the world voted online for a list of 70 cities to fill 22 spots on the new board. Montreal received the highest number of votes, right above Riga, Latvia's capital, which is Montreal's neighbour on the board, getting the fancy spot formerly known as Park Place in the original version patented by Charles Darrow in 1935.

Vancouver and Toronto were also voted onto the revamped board, making Canada the only country with three cities represented.

Read more ....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Am Shock That There Is Gambling In This Club .... SHOCKED!!!! (Line From The Movie Casablanca)

Montreal Leads In Canadian Online Pornography Production -- Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Step through the glass doors of 2much Internet Services and you'll see your typical software company - people tapping away at computers, exposed brickwork on the walls.

But away from the main office, in a room decked out in a jungle motif, Violet Manson is exposing more than brickwork.

"I've got balloons," the scantily clad porn chat hostess cheerfully tells her attentive online audience as she digs into a bag at her side. Soon, she's huffing and puffing, blowing a balloon up until it pops.

"There's this huge thing right now dealing with a balloon fetish," says Manson, a young woman with big brown eyes and ruby red lips. People are ready and willing to pay good money - $5 per minute in private chats - to see those balloons pop.

"It's new to me but there's quite a few clients who are into the balloon fetish so we accommodate them."

Manson is one of the "webcam" girls in Montreal's burgeoning online adult entertainment community, which is part of a porn industry some say is third-biggest in the world behind Los Angeles and Amsterdam.

Read more ....

Montreal A Top Stag-Party Stop As Best Men Take Bachelors On The Road

Montreal Skyline

From The Canadian Press:

MONTREAL — Boston resident Nick Skrine remembers stumbling with several of his friends from bar to bar through downtown Montreal.

They were trotting one of their their good friends in and out of nightclubs during a weekend of debauchery or what others sometimes call: the stag party.

Montreal's gaudy strip-joint lights and overflowing nightclubs beckon best men who aim to help buddies lay bachelorhood to a memorable rest.

"It was a fantastic time," Skrine, a childhood pal of the bachelor, said of last winter's stag. "Obviously, we just got absolutely stinking drunk."

Skrine, who works as a currency analyst, says Montreal is legendary when it comes to nightlife.

"Within Boston, it certainly has a reputation for being a party place," says Skrine, who learned about the city's 3 a.m. last call and its wealth of strip clubs when he was at Boston College.

"Certainly, in the bachelor-party department, Montreal has a reputation of being able to fill the requirements."

Read more ....