Thursday, November 6, 2008

Month In Review: Montreal Canadiens Still Searching For That Spark

The Bleacher Report:

The Montreal Canadiens had an impressive month of October—points-wise, that is.

The Canadiens went 7-1-1 in just nine games this past month, but something seems to be missing from the Canadiens game. It’s that spark that got them the Eastern Conference regular-season title last season.

It just doesn’t seem like the Canadiens are as exciting to watch this season thus far. Maybe that’s because of the high expectations this season, and the low expectations set on the Habs last season.

So far, stud players from last season have been somewhat struggling offensively. Last season's top trio of Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Alex Kovalev have yet to really get things going, as they combined for just six goals in the month of October.

Read more ....

Resale Housing Market Drops 2% In Montreal

The Montreal Gazette:

Montreal's resale housing market declined two per cent in 2008, the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board said yesterday. For the first nine months of the year, 8,463 properties changed hands in the Montreal region. Property listings increased 12 per cent compared with the same period a year ago. The average selling price increase was five per cent this past quarter, vs. four per cent in the second quarter and six per cent in the first quarter. "Despite the rise in listings observed over the last two quarters, the high demand is such that the resale market remains favourable to sellers," Michel Beausejour, the board's CEO, said.

Quebec Election News -- November 6, 2008

Charest Makes Play For Quebec -- The Montreal Gazette

Premier Jean Charest has called a provincial election for Dec. 8, seeing an opportunity to capitalize on the weak hand of Mario Dumont's Action démocratique du Québec.

Charest's goal is to transform his Liberal minority government into a majority, guaranteeing "four years of peace," as one of his ministers put it.

The party's theme is that in the midst of global financial turbulence, only with a majority can the Charest team defend Quebec's interests and keep its economy on track.

Read more ....

More News On Quebec's Provincial Election

The Gazette's Election Blog -- The Gazette
Quebec premier seeks 'clear mandate' in calling Dec. 8 election -- CBC
Personal ambition and fear of hard times to come prompt a gamble at the polls -- Globe And Mail
Liberals own Fortress Montreal -- The Montreal Gazette
Charest must tell us what this election is all about -- The Montreal Gazette
Charest Say Jobs Are The Priority -- Global Quebec
Jean Charest kicks off first day of campaign with speeches on economy -- Canadian Press
Charest takes a gamble on December election -- Toronto Star
Economy, not sovereignty, the hot issue in Quebec vote -- National Post
Quebecers set to vote, again -- Toronto Star
Premier says he learned from close call in 2007 campaign -- Montreal Gazette
Seeking Majority, Quebec’s Premier Sets Election -- New York Times

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Quebec Provincial Election Called -- Roundup Of News Stories

Quebec's Premier Jean Charest (R) and his wife Michele Dionne walk to the Lieutenant Governor's office to call an election in Quebec City, November 5, 2008. Quebec voters will head to poll in a provincial election on December 8. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger (CANADA)

Quebec Premier Seeks 'Clear Mandate' In Calling
Dec. 8 Election -- CBC

Premier Jean Charest has asked Quebec's lieutenant-governor to dissolve the legislature in order to hold a provincial election on Dec. 8.

Charest emerged from a brief meeting with Lt.-Gov. Pierre Duchesne Wednesday morning and boarded the Liberals' campaign bus before heading to an outdoor news conference on the shore of the St. Lawrence River, in west-end Quebec City.

Charest said he would be pushing for a "clear mandate" and majority government after his Liberals were relegated to a minority position in the March 2007 election. The Liberals currently have 48 of the province's 125 seats, compared with 39 for the Démocratique du Québec and 36 for the Parti Québécois, while two seats are vacant.

Charest told reporters gathered at the Quai des Cajeux that it's not wise to have three sets of hands on the steering wheel in difficult economic times.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Quebec Provincial Election Call

Federalist party favored in Quebec election -- International Herald Tribune
Quebec's PM calls election, separatists vulnerable -- Reuters
To the polls -- Global News
Quebec vote set for December 8 -- Yahoo News/AFP

Concrete Flakes Off Overpass, Shuts Down Busy Montreal Road

Notre-Dame Est, Montreal

From The CBC:

Rush-hour traffic was snarled in east-end Montreal on Tuesday afternoon after transport officials shut down a major street where a large chunk of concrete landed after it fell off an overpass.

Police shut down Notre-Dame Street East between Frontenac and Alphonse des Rois streets in both directions after concrete fell from the Moreau bridge on to a Canadian Pacific Railway track.

Read more .....

Habs Have 6 On Ballot For Montreal All-Star Game

From CBC Sports:

Oft-injured Rick DiPietro was one of over 100 players on the NHL all-star ballot released on Tuesday, ahead of the likes of Tim Thomas, who leads all NHL goaltenders in save percentage.

DiPietro has appeared in net in just three games for the New York Islanders this season and will be out from four to six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Saturday. He suffered a hip injury in last year's all-star game and had surgery in the summer on both his hip and knee.

Boston goalie Thomas wasn't included, despite posting two shutouts early in the season and leading the league with a .944 save percentage.

Read more ....

Quebec Police Arrest 19 In Alleged Tax Scam

From The Globe And Mail:

MONTREAL -- Quebec provincial police say a notary and four accountants are among those arrested in an alleged tax-evasion scheme in the construction industry.

Captain Donald Vallee told a news conference yesterday that 22 suspects were directly involved in false billing aimed at defrauding the Quebec government.

"They will face charges of robbery, fraud, fabrication and use of forged documents and gangsterism," Capt. Vallee said.

"It's the first time [there is] gangsterism at the level of the construction industry. That has never been seen before."

Read more ....

Quebec Premier Jean Charest Meets With Cabinet Ahead Of Likely Election Call

From The Canadian Press:

QUEBEC — Quebec Premier Jean Charest is meeting his cabinet this morning and is then widely expected to call a provincial election for Dec. 8.

Charest is scheduled to meet with Lt.-Gov. Pierre Duchesne at 9:45 a.m. ET to ask him to dissolve the legislature. The Liberal leader will be pushing for a majority government after being relegated to a minority position in the March 2007 election.

Charest will be hoping that Quebecers see him as the best politician to manage the economy in tough times.

Recent opinion polls have placed the Liberals ahead of the Parti Quebecois and the Action democratique du Quebec but Charest will be looking to make significant gains among the critical francophone vote.

The Liberals have 48 of the province's 125 seats, compared with 39 for the ADQ and 36 for the PQ, while two seats are vacant.

No Deficit, Promises Quebec Finance Minister

From The CBC:

Quebec's finance minister has released a pre-election economic update she said will allow the Liberals to govern the province over the next few years without posting a deficit.

Monique Jérôme-Forget's update opens the door for Premier Jean Charest to call a snap election this week and launch a campaign expected to focus on who is best positioned to guide the province through the current economic crisis.

The Quebec government has a $2.3 billion reserve that will guarantee balanced budgets in 2008-2009, and 2009-2010, Jérôme-Forget said.

Read more ....

Quebec Prepared To Resist Recession, Minister Says

From The Montreal Gazette:

Quebec is well positioned to resist a recession, the budget will be balanced and the province will experience mild growth in 2008 and 2009, Finance Minister Monique Jérôme-Forget said yesterday.

"Quebec is in a very good position to go through the recession that is being experienced south of the border," the minister said, delivering her financial update on the eve of today's expected election call.

In her budget last March, Jérôme-Forget projected 1.5-per-cent growth in Quebec this year and two per cent in 2009.

Read more ....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Alouettes, Lions Highlight CFL All-Star Teams

From The CBC:

The Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions dominated the Canadian Football League division all-star teams revealed Monday.

Montreal, which finished first in its division with an 11-7 record, claimed 14 of the 27 spots on the East all-star team (nine on offence). The Lions, second in the West at 11-7, had 13 players on their division's team, including seven on defence.

"When you give up the least number of sacks, awards go to the offensive line and when you're the top passing team and have three of the top receivers in the league, they all get rewarded," said Alouettes general manager Jim Popp.

"We're overwhelmed that we had 14. It's fantastic. But when you win the division, you always get more."

Read more ....

Quebec Says Will Maintain Balanced Budgets

From Reuters:

OTTAWA, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Quebec's minority Liberal government said on Tuesday it would keep balanced budgets in 2008-09 and 2009-10 despite the global financial crisis.

Finance Minister Monique Jerome-Forget said in a statement that the government had cut its forecast for economic growth in the province in 2008 to 0.8 percent from the 1.5 percent it predicted in its March budget.

It also cut the forecast for growth next year to 0.6 percent from 2.0 percent. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)

Quebec Economic Update Sets Stage For Election

Photo: Jean Charest

From The CBC:

Premier Jean Charest expected to call Dec. 8 election

The next salvo in Quebec's pre-election campaign will be fired by the province's finance minister on Tuesday when she delivers an economic update that will form the backbone of the Liberals' push for a majority government.

Monique Jérôme-Forget's economic statement is widely expected to be followed a day later by Premier Jean Charest's launch of a fall election campaign that will see Quebecers go to the polls on Dec. 8.

Jérôme-Forget said the update won't be affected by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's announcement Monday that increases in equalization payments to the provinces will be smaller over the next few years.

"This has no impact on my economic statement tomorrow [Tuesday]," Jérôme-Forget said in Toronto as she attended a meeting of the country's finance ministers.

"I think that my statement will finally reveal the situation in Quebec for the next year and the year after that."

Read more ....

Economic Chaos Sets Scene For Quebec Election Call

From Chronicle Herald:

MONTREAL — The next salvo in Quebec’s pre-election campaign will be fired by the province’s finance minister today when she delivers an economic update that will form the backbone of the Liberals’ push for a majority government.

Monique Jerome-Forget’s economic statement is widely expected to be followed a day later by Premier Jean Charest’s launch of a fall election campaign that will see Quebecers go to the polls on Dec. 8.

Jerome-Forget said the update won’t be affected by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s announcement Monday that increases in equalization payments to the provinces will be smaller over the next few years.

"This has no impact on my economic statement tomorrow (Tuesday)," Jerome-Forget said in Toronto as she attended a meeting of the country’s finance ministers.

"I think that my statement will finally reveal the situation in Quebec for the next year and the year after that."

Charest has made it clear his pitch will be that he needs a majority government to steer the province through the stormy economic waters ahead.

Read more ....

Quebec Emissions Levels Stabilize Despite Trucks, Cars, Report Says

Lantic Sugar, Notre-Dame East (Montréal).

From CBC News:

Quebec continues to lead the country in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, despite a rise in carbon production from transport trucks and cars, according to a new report.

The Quebec Environment Ministry released its annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, which compared 2006 levels to those measured in 1990.

Quebec's overall emissions have risen 1.6 per cent since 1990.

Emissions from large transport trucks and cars rose 22 per cent in that time period, which is "bad news," said Montreal Greenpeace spokesman Arthur Sandborn.

"The bottom line is our production of greenhouse gases [in] the transport sector – small cars, small vans and the big trucks that are running down highways – is up 22 per cent," he said Monday.

Read more ....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Atwater Library, A Little Corner Of Our History

Still Going, A Little Corner Of
Our History -- Global Quebec

Atwater Library is not your typical library.

One of the oldest lending libraries in the country still in operation, it reeks of character.

Started 180 years ago, the inner-city library kicks off a program of anniversary events with a fundraiser on Wednesday.

It remains a private institution, used by 80,000 people a year, and for the most part depends on private donations to survive. Ninety per cent of its $400,000 annual operating budget comes from donors, business rentals and library fees.

"Our front line service positions are staffed by 125 volunteers," said Lynn Verge, the library's executive director, "We have only eight paid full-time staff. It's the volunteers that set us apart, and contribute to the building's warmth, and give the place a human scale."

Read more ....

Could It Be The End of Local News At The Montreal Gazette

From Rush PR News:

MONTREAL(RushPRnews)3/11/2008–Readers of the Montreal Gazette may have gotten their first glance into the newspaper’s fate, as pages produced by the Financial Post (a part of the National Post newspaper), were inserted into The Gazette’s business section and into all ten Canwest-owned daily newspapers this Saturday. The Montreal Gazette has been in a fragile position, as parent company Canwest Publishing Inc. refuses to back down on its outsourcing demands or its forward attempts at centralizing Canadian news. RushPRnews contacted Director of Communications of Canwest Publishing, Phyllise Gelfand, hoping to interview her for further details into the company’s actions. Gelfand responded to an initial phone message with an inquiry about what information this reporter was seeking. Subsequent requests were not answered.

Not only putting the job security of many Gazette workers at high risk, but also greatly minimizing the production and quality of local content, Saturday’s business page was just the tip of the iceberg as to what could become of the sanctity of Canadian journalism as a whole. In order to fit these Financial Post pages in the Gazette’s Saturday Business section, the amount of locally-produced content shrunk from five pages to less than three. Some of the cuts included bond listings, TSX industry indexes and mutual fund listings. Even the number of foreign currencies listed, dropped from 40 to 10.

Read more ....

Cancer Scare Helps Calvillo Put Football In Perspective

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo relaxes with his wife Alexia and children Olivia, and Ahtena at his home on Sunday. THE GAZETTE/Marco Campanozzi

From The National Post:

MONTREAL -- Life cannot possibly clash more than this. The exhilarating high that comes from the arrival of a new baby and then, days later, the stunning news of a life-threatening disease. Those polarized feelings were experienced by Alexia Kontolemos and her husband, Montreal Alouettes' quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

In October 2007, the family welcomed the birth of their second daughter, Olivia Christina. Exactly one week later, on Oct. 22, Alexia learned she had cancer. Her mind started racing. How and why could this happen? There's no history of the dreaded disease in her family. And, finally, the inevitable thought crossed her mind -- death. She was only 33. What would happen if she died? How would her husband cope? Who would look after Athena, now 3, and the new baby?

Read more ....

Courting Ontario/Shafting Quebec?

From The Globe And Mail:

This morning, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will be meeting his provincial and territorial counterparts in Toronto, and he will not be bearing good news.

With most forecasters predicting that Ottawa will go into deficit next year if not sooner, Mr. Flaherty will be sending an early signal that transfer payments will not be spared from forthcoming federal budget cuts. Tellingly, last week he noted that equalization payments to the provinces have been growing at 15% a year, suggesting that Ottawa is about to cap the magnitude of the annual increases.

Some observers interpreted this as a shot across Ontario's bow; that is, as a signal not to expect to receive equalization payments from Ottawa. In fact, as the largest recipient of equalization dollars, it's Quebec that has most reason to be concerned. Moreover, in light of the election results, Stephen Harper's Conservatives may now see their future fortunes tied to Ontario, and not to Quebec.

Read more ....

Quebec Snow Tire Law May Be Encouraging Theft

From The CBC:

Three residents of Repentigny reported that winter tires were stolen off their cars this week, police in the community east of Montreal said.

The tires were all stolen in the same neighbourhood on Wednesday night.

The car owners found their vehicles sitting on wooden blocks, said Repentigny police Sgt. Paul Diamond.

Quebec's mandatory winter tire law comes into effect this year, which could help explain the theft, Diamond said.

Garages have reported a surge in sales, possibly creating a black market for tires.

Consumer advocates are warning Quebecers to safeguard their winter tires.

Read more ....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quebec Pair Prank Palin With Faux-Sarkozy Phone Call

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, speaks as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist watches during a campaign rally in New Port Richey, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008. (AP Photo / Mike Carlson) News Staff

Two notorious Quebec comedians have pranked Sarah Palin, tricking the Republican vice-presidential nominee into thinking she was speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a Saturday afternoon phone call.

"Oh my God, seriously, it's probably the biggest we've ever done," Marc-Antoine Audette, a member of comedy duo The Masked Avengers, told Saturday afternoon.

During the nearly seven-minute chat, the conversation ranges from politics to hunting with vice-president Dick Cheney.

The topics also touch on Palin's political future -- a sensitive topic for some of John McCain's campaign staffers, who have suggested Palin is already looking at a presidential run in the next four years.

"I see you as a president one day, too," says one of the pranksters to Palin.

"Maybe in eight years," she responds.

Read more ....

Show Us Pension Numbers, Quebec Opposition Urges

Quebec Parliament Building

From The CBC:

Amid the turmoil in global credit markets, opposition parties in Quebec are demanding the Liberal government issue a financial report card on the province's pension fund.

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec might have lost as much as $30 billion since the onset of the worldwide financial crisis, Action Démocratique du Québec Leader Mario Dumont said Friday.

"We have made calculations that show it is likely the biggest losses in history of the Caisse de dépot have happened," he said.

"If you were calling your financial agent and said what is in your RRSP, what it in is your account, and he couldn't tell you, you would fire him.

"That's exactly what he is telling us now," Dumont said.

Read more ....

Canadiens Rally To Upend Islanders 5-4

From The CBC:

After sleepwalking through the first 40 minutes, the Montreal Canadiens scored four unanswered goals in the third period to upend the New York Islanders 5-4 Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum.

Alex Kovalev scored the winner with less than five minutes remaining, giving the Canadiens their third straight win.

Kovalev finished off a highly productive night, scoring a pair of goals and added two assists.

Read more ....

Commentary -- Quebec Laments Loss Of Power In Harper Cabinet

Canadian Parliament

From National Post:

MONTREAL - It turns out there is a price to thumbing your nose at a government that showered you with money and nation status, in favour of a separatist party that can only be in opposition.

Quebec newspapers are filled with hand-wringing over the province's reduced clout in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new cabinet. Electing just 10 Conservative MPs -- none of them anywhere near Montreal -- and giving the Tories 22% of the popular vote is not the way to Mr. Harper's heart.

"Will Quebec be heard?" Bernard Descôteaux wonders in Le Devoir's editorial. He says it would be wrong for the Conservatives to blame Quebec voters for their poor showing in the province. "It rather should be seen as the result of the failure of the Conservative team to convince Quebecers to elect more Conservatives," he writes.

Read more ....