Sunday, May 31, 2009

Montreal Museums Day

A man studies a painting at the MMFA, as he takes part in the annual Montreal Museums Day last year. Photograph by: Allen McInnis, The Gazette

From The Montreal Gazette:

Sunday is Montreal Museums Day, which means 30 museums are offering free admission and six bus routes will take you there, no charge.

It’s a popular event. Last year, attendance hit the 135,000 mark.

The aim is to make culture accessible to all by making a visit to a museum as easy as is humanly possible. Hours are extended: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Depending on the museum, special activities, including workshops, guided tours and lectures, are offered.

Read more

A Selective Look At Coming Shows In Montreal

Sarah Slean in concert at Club Soda on June 28, 2008 in Montreal.
Photograph by: Natasha Fillion, Gazette file photo

From The Montreal Gazette:

A selective look at coming shows. A indicates Admission (514-790-1245;; G indicates Gillett (514-790-2525 or; T indicates Ticketpro (514-790-1111; or call the number given or the venue.


June 2. Doves, Le National, $25. (A)

June 2. 1990s, Petit Campus. CANCELLED. Refunds at point of purchase.

June 3. Elton John and Billy Joel, Bell Centre, $69.50 to $270. (G)

June 3. Romi Mayes, Petit Campus, $15. (A)

June 3. TV On the Radio, Metropolis, $27. (T)

June 4. Santigold, Metropolis, $23.50. (T)

June 4. Sarah Slean, Le Savoy, $20. (T)

June 5-7. Star Académie 2009, Bell Centre, $39.50 to $69.50. (G)

June 5. Amadou & Mariam, Metropolis, $39.50. (T)

June 5. Amanda Mabro, Cabaret, $15. (A)

June 5. Subb, Studio Juste Pour Rire, $12.50. (A)

June 10. Dave Matthews with Femi Kuti, Jean Drapeau Park, $54.50. (G)

June 15. Band of Skulls, Club Lambi, $15. (A)

June 15. CKY, Les Saints, $18 in advance, $20 at the door. (A)

June 16. Phoenix, Les Saints, $18 in advance, $20 at the door. (A)

June 16 to 21. Chicago: The Musical, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts, $55 to $75. 514-842-2112;

June 17. Rise Against and Rancid, Jean Drapeau Park, $39.50. (G)

June 18. Theory of a Deadman, Club Soda, $22.50. (T)

June 18. Harlem Shakes, Il Motore, $12. (A)

June 22. Propagandhi, Club Soda, $16. (T)

June 23. Fred Eaglesmith, Petit Campus, $25. (A)

June 23. Jonathan Richman with Vic Chesnutt, Cabaret, $16. (A)

June 26. Camera Obscura, La Tulipe, $20. (A)

June 26 to 28. Montreal International Reggae Festival, featuring Frankie Paul, Sugar Minott, Ky-Mani Marley and others, Parc Jean-Drapeau, $30 for Friday, $40 for Saturday or Sunday. (A)

June 29. The New York Dolls, Club Soda, $39.50. On sale May 29 at noon. (T)

Read more ....

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Seeking Hope, They Found Death

Many in the Irish community will march down Bridge St. in Point St. Charles tomorrow to honour those who died. Photograph by: Allen McInnis, The Gazette

From The Montreal Gazette:

Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of the planting of the Black Rock, which honours the remains of 6,000 Irish immigrants who died of ship fever.

The Irish came by the tens of thousands in 1847, packed like cordwood below deck in fetid ship holds meant for timber. They were fleeing famine and seeking salvation in the New World. Instead they found death, dying by the thousands at sea, in quarantine near Quebec City and finally in Montreal, victims of disease and neglect.

There were so many corpses, trenches were dug to dispose of the dead in what is now Point St. Charles. Twelve years later, labourers building the Victoria Bridge would uncover the bones of their brethren and insist the remains be protected. To make sure of it, they planted a massive 30-tonne, 10-foot high boulder dredged from the St. Lawrence River over the burial site, and inscribed it, in part: "To preserve from desecration the remains of 6,000 immigrants who died of ship fever."

Read more ....

No Kidding On New MSO Hall

The long-awaited Montreal Symphony Orchestra concert hall unveiled drawings Thursday, May 28, planned for the corner of St. Urbain St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd.

From The Montreal Gazette:

Was this a concert hall I saw before me? The immediate response to the distribution on Thursday of images of a new music palace on the northeast corner of Place des Arts was, necessarily, a Shakespearean reflection on illusion and reality.

We have been here before, a few times. Drawings of nonexistent Montreal Symphony Orchestra concert halls might make a nice coffee-table book. Of course, computer-generated images, with little people milling about and gulls soaring over a crepuscular skyline, are more vivid and convincing than old-fashioned sketches and blueprints.

Read more ....

Quebec Considers Monitoring Breast Cancer Treatment Tests

Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc speaks to the media about the report
on Thursday, May 28, 2009. Photo from CTV.

From The CBC:

Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc has called an emergency meeting with officials this weekend to discuss a troubling study about breast cancer treatment in the province.

The study, conducted by the province's pathologists association and released this week, suggests as many as one out of five women with breast cancer may not be receiving the right treatment because of problems with hormone receptor tests, used to identify certain types of malignant tumours.

Bolduc plans to meet with epidemiologists to review the study's results and discuss whether hormone receptor testing should be more closely monitored in pathology laboratories.

Read more ....

Update #1: Quebec knew of alarming breast cancer study for a month before its release -- CTV

Update #2: Quebec minister denies he was slow to react to cancer warning -- Montreal Gazette

My Comment: Government mandated health care ..... at its worse.

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

Phil Orbanes will be chief judge at the Canadian Monopoly Championships, which start Thursday at the Montreal Science Centre. Photograph by: Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette

From The Montreal Gazette:

The 48 Contestants in the Canadian Monopoly Championships better not get too creative in interpreting the rules: The chief judge has been presiding over tournaments for 29 years

Monopoly judge Phil Orbanes has a little advice for the players hoping to win the Canadian Championships, which start Thursday at the Montreal Science Centre.

"If you own all four railroads and either the complete red or orange properties, you are almost unbeatable," he said yesterday. "Each property has its own percentage likelihood of being landed on. Orange lies at the ideal distance (six to 12 spaces) beyond Jail, where everyone winds up sooner or later."

Read more ....

Opposition Demands Auditor General Probe Caisse Losses

Quebec's pension fund manager reported historic losses
for 2008 this week in Montreal. (Canadian Press)

From The CBC:

Opposition parties at the National Assembly are demanding the auditor general probe the record losses by the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec last year.

On Friday, a special legislative committee wrapped up 30 hours of hearings which heard testimony from past and current heads of the giant pension fund manager.

The Caisse saw the value of its assets plummet 25 per cent to about $120 billion from $155 billion last year.

Read more ....

My Comment: When there is a $40 billion dollar shortfall .... there better be a "probe" and an accounting on what happened.

English Textbooks Ready, But Only In Pieces

The Quebec government says the English-language schools will have the textbooks, at least in part, for the fall. (May 29, 2009)

From CTV:

There's more frustration and confusion about English textbooks in Quebec after the education department informed school boards that some books will only arrive chapter by chapter this fall.

The Montreal teachers association is upset, saying they can't properly do their jobs without complete textbooks.

"It's unacceptable to give it to us in pieces," Ruth Rosenfield of the Montreal Teachers' Association told CTV News on Friday.

"We want the whole thing. I'm not asking for icing, ch

Read more ....

My Comment: The French schools (of course) have already received their textbooks.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ottawa To Clamp Down On 'Out Of Control' Contraband Cigarettes

From The CBC:

Canadian officials are launching a public awareness campaign in the hopes of fighting the booming contraband cigarette market, a thriving industry that they say costs billions of dollars in lost tax revenues.

"Right now the war on cigarettes is like the war on drugs," said Sgt. Michael Harvey of the RCMP in Cornwall, Ont. "It's just something that's out of control."

Read more ....

My Comment: The day the government comes down on the cigarette shacks on the reservations .... that is the day that I will start to believe them when they that they are getting serious about stopping this trade.

$1,300 A Night For A Room? Maybe Harper Was Right -- A Commentary

Seaside View Of Cannes

From The Montreal Gazette:

"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see ... a bunch of people at a rich gala ... all subsidized by the taxpayers, claiming their subsidies aren't high enough, when they know their subsidies have gone up, I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people."

Remember those words? If you don't, Prime Minister Stephen Harper envies you. No one in the arts community - especially the Quebec arts community - will ever let the PM forget what he said last year about their subsidies.

Read more

Bomb Scare Shuts Busy Montreal Metro Station At Height Of Rush Hour

Photo: Pedestrians flood the downtown core after a suspicious package was found at Berri-UQAM metro. (Corinne Smith/CBC)

From The CBC:

Montreal's downtown core was paralyzed for more than three hours Thursday afternoon after police were called to a bomb threat in the city's biggest subway station.

The incident occurred shortly after 5:15 p.m. ET when a man told a transit operator he had a bomb in his suitcase. He then dropped the suitcase and ran away, officials told Radio-Canada.

A police bomb squad was called in and officers blew up the suspicious suitcase shortly after 8 p.m.

Read more ....

My Comment: Montreal also has crazy people.

Cyclists Are Taking A Shine To Bixi Program

Marc Genest (left) gets a closer look at the new Bixi bicycle stands, during car free day in Montreal on September 22, 2008. Photograph by: Pierre Obendrauf, Montreal Gazette

From The Montreal Gazette:

26,000 trips taken since launch; About 100 new subscribers join daily

Bixi is rolling along nicely, officials say.

Over 16 days, about 26,000 trips were taken using Bixi, Montreal's new public bike-sharing system, said Bérengère Thériault, spokesperson for Stationnement de Montréal, which manages the Bixi program for the city.

Altogether, Bixi users have cycled more than 185,000 kilometres since the service was launched on May 12.

About 100 new subscribers are joining Bixi daily. So far, 2,200 people have signed up for monthly ($28) or annual ($78) subscriptions, Thériault said. Users can also get one-day subscriptions for $5.

Read more

Mercier Bridge Repairs Reduce Access To La Prairie

From The Montreal Gazette:

MONTREAL - Highway access ramps between the Mercier Bridge and La Prairie will be closed in stages over the weekend, bridge and highways officials say.

The access ramp to the bridge from La Prairie will completely close from 10 p.m. Friday until 10 p.m. Saturday. In addition., the left lane of the access ramp to La Prairie will also be closed during that time.

The ramp from La Prairie to the bridge will close from 10 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday. In addition, the left lane of the access ramp from La Prairie will be closed.

Read more ....

My Comment: I live facing the Mercier Bridge. Last weekend's traffic jams were horrible .... my advice .... stay away from the bridge on the weekends.

New Border Rules Coming Into Effect June 1

As of June 1, Canadians need a valid passport to travel to the U.S. by land, air or sea.

From CTV News:

Starting Monday, Canadians will need passports, or other specialized I.D., to enter the United States by land, sea or air.

Previously, such documents were only required for U.S. air travel.

The tighter border rules are part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

Under the WHTI, all Canadians aged 16 and up who don't have passports will need to show an enhanced driver's licence (EDL), or another WHTI-compliant document to travel to the U.S.

Canadian travellers aged 15 and under may enter the U.S. by showing proof of Canadian citizenship, by using a birth certificate or citizenship card.

Read more ....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Parking Meter Privatization A Boon For Montreal

A Université du Québec researcher and the city of Montreal agree the privatization of parking meters and parking lots in Montreal in 1994 has created a cash cow for the city, raising almost $57 million in revenue last year. Photograph by: Phil Carpenter, Gazette file photo

From The Montreal Gazette:

But lose the third party and save money, UQAM researcher says.

A Université du Québec researcher and the city of Montreal agree the privatization of parking meters and parking lots in Montreal in 1994 has created a cash cow for the city, raising almost $57 million in revenue last year.

But could the city have done as well or better had it not signed a 30-year deal with Stationnement de Montréal to operate the network?

The city’s parking authority is run by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.

Read more ....

Whitecaps Eliminate Impact From Canadian Championship

From The CBC:

The Vancouver Whitecaps used a second-half goal from Ethan Gage to defeat the Montreal Impact 1-0 Wednesday night and set up a showdown with Toronto FC next week in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

The Whitecaps and Toronto both have six points in the three-team, six-game tournament. The loss ended any hope Montreal had of defending its Canadian title.

The winning goal came after Montreal defender Eduardo Sebrango, a former Whitecap, tried to clear the ball from in front of his own net. Gage, an 18-year-old from Cochrane, Alta., intercepted the attempt and beat Montreal goalkeeper Matt Jordan from about 18 yards out.

Vancouver improved its record to 2-1-0. Toronto is 2-0-0 while Montreal dropped to 0-2-0.

Read more ....

New Montreal Concert Hall Revealed

Place Des Arts

From The Globe And Mail:

This is a day of beginnings and endings for l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, which will play its final concert of the season just hours after Quebec's ministry of culture unveils an architect's model of a $110-million symphony hall planned for a narrow site adjacent to Place des Arts in downtown Montreal.

Three years after Quebec Premier Jean Charest pledged that his government would build a concert home for the OSM on the 15,000-square metre plot of land on the Centre's northeast corner, the Premier will present a scale model of Toronto architect Jack Diamond's design for a 1,900-seat, shoebox-shaped hall.

The project puts the province in partnership with Ovation, a consortium of six companies that includes Montreal construction firm Groupe Aecon and engineering company SNC-Lavalin. Workers have already begun preparing the site for the building, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2011.

Read more ....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Molson Family May Bid To Buy Canadiens

The Molson family is considering a purchase of the Montreal Canadiens.
Photograph by: Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images

From The CBC:

A pitch to acquire the Montreal Canadiens is brewing in the Molson family.

Geoffrey E. Molson, vice-president of marketing for the Molson Coors Brewing Co., said in a statement Tuesday he is interested in submitting a bid to buy the hockey team.

The statement indicated that any bid would come from Geoffrey E. Molson and his immediate family, which includes his brothers Andrew and Justin.

Any move to acquire the team by the Molson family would not include the Molson Coors company.

Read more ....

Update: Molsons mulling Habs purchase -- The Montreal Gazette

John Lennon, Yoko Ono Montreal 'Bed-In For Peace' Was 40 Years Ago

John Lennon and Yoko Ono had a deep understanding of the inclusive power of simplicity, in image, words and music. Photograph by: Gerry Deiter , Wiley

From The CBC:

The hotel room where John Lennon and Yoko Ono created a watershed moment for the peace movement at the height of the Vietnam War is a little smaller now.

Part of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel suite, which has a gold plaque on the door noting its history, went to the installation of a panoramic elevator on the floor.

But that hasn't dimmed the aura of the place where the ex-Beatle and Ono staged their "bed-in for peace" between May 26 and June 2, 1969, and recorded the antiwar anthem Give Peace a Chance the day before they left.

Read more ....

Few Takers For New Border Card

File photo: A United States customs agent hands a motorist information on the types of identification documents needed to cross the border from Canada. New rules go into effect starting June 1. Photograph by: Bill Pugliano, Getty Images

From The Montreal Gazette:

Slow start; Just 11,000 pay for 'enhanced' driver's permit.

The province's new enhanced driver's licences, which will act as official identification for crossing the border into the United States, are proving to be a tough sell.

In the first 31/2 months of the program only 11,000 enhanced licences - which have computer identity chips that can be read by border guards - have been issued, The Gazette has learned.

For the enhanced licence program to break even, about 10 per cent of drivers in the province, or a total of 500,000 people, must request one and pay the $40 fee.

Read more ....

Montreal Woman Arrested Amid Custody Battle

Image: Araceli Bravo, 45, was picked up Tuesday morning on a Canada-wide warrant for abduction in violation of a custody order.(Courtesy: Toronto Star)

From CTV News:

Vancouver police have arrested a Montreal woman accused of kidnapping her daughter during a bitter custody battle.

Araceli Bravo, 45, was picked up Tuesday morning on a Canada-wide warrant for abduction in violation of a custody order.

"Information was received by Vancouver Police that Araceli Bravo was residing in Vancouver and she was arrested without incident," Vancouver police said in a statement.

"She is currently in custody awaiting the arrival of Montreal investigators who will escort her back to Montreal."

Read more ....

EMSB Watchdog Kept On The Run

Quebec has appointed an observer to look into the internal political gridlock at the English Montreal School Board, which has its headquarters on Fielding Ave. in Notre Dame de Grace. Photograph by: John Mahoney, The Gazette

From The Montreal Gazette:

When the English Montreal School Board appointed lawyer Madeleine Lemieux as its first ethics commissioner, it hired her on an as-needed basis to examine and rule on complaints filed against the board’s elected commissioners.

The politically turbulent school board sure has needed her services.

Thirteen ethics complaints against EMSB commissioners have been filed since Lemieux was named in May 2007, The Gazette has learned.

Two complaints were lodged by parents; the rest were filed by commissioners.

Read more ....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

3 Years Needed To Cut ER Wait Times: Health Minister Yves Bolduc

The Jewish General Hospital is ahead of the curve. Serving one of the oldest populations in Canada, it has already created the kind of specialized programs other hospitals will need in 10 or 15 years. Think of its approach as 'low tech but high touch.' Photograph by: JOHN MAHONEY/ THE GAZETTE

From The Montreal Gazette:

Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc says he needs three more years to significantly cut long stays in the province’s crowded hospital emergency wards.

“It’s unacceptable to spend 48 hours in the emergency ward,” Bolduc was quoted Tuesday in La Presse. “My goal is to eliminate (those long stays) one day. But for now, the goal is to reduce (stays of 48 hours or more) by 30 per cent in three years, which means a 30-per-cent improvement in the efficiency of our emergency wards.”

Read more ....

Articulated Buses To Hit Streets Next Month

A total of 200 extended buses will ply city streets by 2011.

From CTV News:

Articulated buses will hit Montreal streets next month for the first time, a city council meeting was told on Monday.

The 60-foot, accordion-like vehicles will serve densely-populated east-end neighbourhoods such as St. Michel, Cote-des-Neiges and Park Extension.

A total of 200 extended buses will be rolled out by 2011.

They're already on the roads of other major cities and they're more economical to run than traditional buses, says city councilor Marvin Rotrand.

Read more ....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Put The Brakes On Métro Expansion, Activists Advise

Commuters wait for the metro at Berri-UQAM Station.
Photograph by: Vincenzo d'Alto, Gazette file photo

From The Montreal Gazette:

Money should first go to commuter trains, tramways says Green Coalition

Before spending $3 billion to extend the métro in Montreal’s east-end, Laval and Longueuil, officials should consider faster, cheaper ways to improve public transit and come up with an integrated regional transportation plan, transit activists say.

Montreal, Laval and Longueuil will reportedly ask Quebec to okay a 10-year plan to extend the métro by 11 stations over 20 kilometres, at a cost of $150 million per kilometre. The plan envisages a new Montreal-Laval link on the Orange line, and extensions from St. Michel to Anjou in the east end on the Blue line, and of the Yellow line deeper into the South Shore.

Read more ....

Quebec To Set Age Limit For Powerful Sports Motorbikes

The SAAQ wants to restict access to high-powered motorcyles in order to reduce the number of road accidents in Quebec.

From CTV:

MONTREAL — Quebec's automobile insurance board is hoping strict rules on motorbike ownership will cut road accident rates in the province.

The Societe de l'assurance automobile du Quebec, or the SAAQ, will restrict access to high-powered sports bikes to riders over 25-years-old or with more than five years experience.

The board hopes it will protect sports bike aficionados who they contend are over represented in accident statistics.

Because the agency's data suggests the risks of accidents is directly linked to cylinder size and the type of motorcycle, it's divided motorbikes into two categories: high-risk sports bikes designed for speed and performance, and regular motorbikes.

Read more ....

Opus Card User's Guide: Part 2 Of 2

File photo: When first introduced in the fall of 2008, people rushed to buy the Opus card. It has become very popular with monthly pass users, officials say. Starting in June, Société de transport de Montréal will only sell monthly passes to Opus card holders. Photograph by: ., The Gazette

From The Montreal Gazette:

Where to buy it, is it obligatory and when will the glitches get fixed?

Squeaky Wheels deals with many questions about the Opus "smart card," which lets you put various transit passes and tickets on one card to commute in and around Montreal. Even though the card's phase-in is well under way, some readers still have basic questions, and serious doubts. Last week, in the first of this two-part user's guide, we explained what the card is, how to use it, what its biggest flaw is and how it compares to other transit systems. Part 2 of the guide tells you where to buy the card, whether it's obligatory and when the problems with Opus might be fixed.

Read more ....

Quebec's Hydro Will Make Its Fortune, Says Premier

From The CBC:

Calls green power exports Quebec's 'blue gold'

Quebec's future prosperity lies in the development of new hydroelectric plants to generate power for export to the United States, the province's premier told Liberals gathered at a council meeting in Laval, north of Montreal.

"Quebec will build itself on its blue gold," Jean Charest told hundreds of Liberal delegates who attended the weekend meeting.

He pledged his government's commitment to further develop hydroelectricity and build on efforts made by past Liberal governments to evolve the power source, including former premiers Jean Lesage, who nationalized the power grid, and Robert Bourassa, who launched the James Bay dam project.

Read more ....

Update: Quebec future in rivers, dams: premier -- Montreal Gazette

Quebec Favours Federal Liberals

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff gestures to supporters while accepting the leadership of the party during the Federal Liberal Party Biennial Convention in Vancouver May 2, 2009. Photograph by: Andy Clark, Reuters

From The Montreal Gazette:

Tories at 13 %; Charest's team in tie with PQ.

Amid tough economic times and rising unemployment, support for the federal Conservatives continues to languish at rock-bottom levels while the Liberals have reclaimed their place as the dominant federal party in Quebec, according to a new poll.

The Léger poll indicates that the Harper government's support in Quebec remains at only 13 per cent, which could possibly wipe out most of its 10 seats in the province were an election held today.

"This is catastrophic for the Conservatives," said Jean-Marc Léger, president of Léger Marketing. "Poll after poll shows they are losing ground. It will be a tough time for them."

Read more ....

Disputed Inquiry Into Police Shooting Of Montreal Teen Set To Begin

Photo: Fredy Villanueva, 18, was shot dead Aug. 9, 2008. (Canadian Press)

From The CBC:

A coroner's inquiry into the police shooting of a Montreal teenager last August is set to begin Monday despite widespread criticism of the process as being one-sided and too narrow in scope.

Several witnesses and community groups have bowed out from the inquest into Fredy Villanueva's death, claiming the investigation has lost all credibility.

Villanueva, 18, was shot dead in a Montreal North park on Aug. 9 2008 while officers were trying to arrest his older brother Dany. Two other men — Denis Meas, 18, and Jeffrey Sagor Metellus, 20 — were in the park at the time playing dice with the Villanueva brothers and were also shot, but survived their injuries.

Read more ....

Update: Coroner's inquiry into Villanueva shooting set to begin -- CTV

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Think Big, Tremblay Urges Montrealers

Montreal Skyline

From The Montreal Gazette:

People are too ready to slam projects: mayor

Citing a high-profile scheme for a $1-billion downtown casino and entertainment complex that spectacularly crashed and burned after it couldn't shake off public criticism, Mayor Gérald Tremblay has challenged the city's business community and Montrealers in general to support projects that can offer the city "unlimited returns." "You remember the Cirque du Soleil project?" Tremblay asked an audience of about 400 businesspeople who yesterday attended an overview meeting organized by Montreal's Board of Trade of the city's major development projects. "How many of you, individually or collectively, have said: 'I should have written something (in support); I should have taken a stand'? "If that had happened, perhaps we would have ended up with a different project that would have brought people together and created wealth.

Read more ....

The New Key To The City: Bikes

Cities and hotels are inviting guests to cruise around like locals, and Montreal's new bike-sharing program is leading the way

From The Globe And Mail:

On the streets of Montreal, where visitors once flocked to watch Formula One cars race through the streets, you can now cruise the city on two wheels. That is, on one of the 3,000 sleek bicycles in the city's new bike-sharing program.

Launched this month, Bixi is North America's largest and most innovative bike-sharing program, billed as a green, cheap method of getting around. With the city's 450 kilometres of bike paths, you can cruise around like a local. “Tourists are most welcome to use the system and experience the city the way local residents do,” Tourisme Montreal's Patrick Guidote says.

As urban cycling gains in popularity, following the European example, cities and hotels are offering bike-sharing and bike paths – along with bikes as amenities for guests – as a way to attract visitors and open up a new tourism experience.

Read more

More Quebecers See Immigrants As Threat: Poll

Protesters demonstrate outside Palais des congrès during the Bouchard-Taylor hearings on reasonable accommodation in November 2007. Photograph by: John Kenney, Gazette file photo

From The Montreal Gazette:

One year after a provincial report on the accommodation of cultural minorities, a majority of Quebecers still say newcomers should give up their cultural traditions and become more like everybody else, according to a new poll.

Quebecers’ attitudes toward immigrants have hardened slightly since 2007, when the Bouchard-Taylor commission started hearings across Quebec on the “reasonable accommodation” of cultural communities.

Read more

BCE, Quebecor Both Aiming To Own Canadiens: Report

Photo: Amid all the rumours, Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett still hasn't confirmed that he's selling the team. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

From The CBC:

Quebecor and Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) are gunning to own the Montreal Canadiens, according to a media report out of Montreal.

Montreal-based newspaper La Presse said Friday that both Quebecor and BCE formed consortiums to take over the Habs.

That's two more hats to add into the ring.

W. Graeme Roustan, a Montreal native who runs Roustan Inc. capital fund and acts as the chairman of equipment firm Bauer Hockey, also has a serious bid on the table, Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison reported in mid-April.

Apparently, so does Serge Savard, a Hall of Fame defenceman and former Habs general manager and player. His bid has the backing of several investors, including the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the provincial pension fund manager.

Read more

Court Hears How Smugglers Eluded Searches At Trudeau

Montréal-Trudeau International Airport YUL

From The Montreal Gazette:

Evidence presented Friday in the trial of a former customs agent accused of helping drug traffickers smuggle cocaine into Canada touched on an important second step she allegedly took to help their couriers avoid being searched at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

Wiretap evidence presented earlier in the trial indicated that in 2005, Nancy Cedeno supplied customs declaration forms, with her Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) stamp on them, to Omar Riahi, 33, a St. Leonard resident who worked as a customs agent from Sept. 2003 to March 2004.

Read more ....

Quebec Cultural Agency Head Sees No Problem With Lavish Spending

From The CBC:

The head of Quebec's cultural development agency is defiantly defending his travel expenses and has refused to step down, even after the premier suggested he's in no position to finish his mandate.

Returning from the Cannes Film Festival Friday morning, Jean-Guy Chaput told reporters in Montreal he had no intention of resigning from his post as president of the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), despite a scathing report from Quebec's auditor general, who described his travel expenses as "sumptuous."

"I didn't defraud anyone," Chaput said in French. "I didn't skim funds."

Auditor General Renaud Lachance tabled a report Thursday afternoon on SODEC's expenditures in which he pointed the finger at Chaput for using taxpayers' money to lead a life filled with first-class travel, stays in chic international hotels and meals in the finest restaurants.

Read more ....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Photo Radar: What You Need To Know

A photo radar/red light camera tower shines in th sun at the corner of Notre Dame and University Sts. Monday, May 18, 2009. The units go into service Tuesday. Photograph by: John Mahoney, THE GAZETTE

From The Montreal Gazette:

Lights, cameras, action. Photo radar is upon us.

Since Tuesday, there are 15 photo radar and red-light cameras in Quebec, six of them in the Montreal region.

How do they work?

Nicole Ste. Marie, spokesperson for Transport Québec, explains the procedures:

Where are these photo-radar cameras installed?

Red-light cameras:

- University St. at Notre Dame St.

- Ste. Catherine St. at Iberville St.

- Décarie Blvd. at Paré St.

Read more ....

English Schools In Laurentians Facing Cuts

Library positions will be eliminated at Grenville, St. Adele and Arundel elementary schools as part of a five-year board plan to dig itself out of a $5 million deficit.

From CTV News:

Parents in the Laurentians are worried about cuts at three English schools that are losing their librarians as of the next school year.

Parents attended a Sir Wilfrid Laurier school board meeting on Wednesday evening to voice their concerns about the effect that the staffing cuts will have on literacy.

The positions will be eliminated at Grenville, St. Adele and Arundel elementary schools as part of a five-year board plan to dig itself out of a $5 million deficit.

Enrollment is actually growing but the board's director, Anne-Marie Lepage, says the board has become a victim of its own success.

"Our growth has made us fiscally more heavy in terms of the number of buildings, the number of staff," Lepage told CTV News.

"Throughout the past years we've had to add to our structure in order to service the new students that we have."

Read more ....

Isotope Dearth Could Lead To Rationing At Montreal Hospitals

From The Montreal Gazette:

The world's medical community, which gets the bulk of its diagnostic isotopes from Canada, could be facing shortages after another shutdown of a nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ont.

In Montreal, that could lead to rationing.

The last time the plant shut down, Quebec's medical centres treated only urgent cases.

Hospitals are now checking with their suppliers of isotopes, Lucie Dufresne of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal said yesterday.

Read more ....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Champlain Bridge Repairs To Cost $212 Million, But New Span Under Study

Champlain Bridge. Photograph by: File photo, The Gazette

From The Montreal Gazette:

Even as it starts a 10-year, $212-million repair job on the Champlain Bridge, Ottawa will study the idea of building a new bridge and tearing the current structure down.

A new bridge - with a price tag of about $1 billion - could open the door to a light-rail transit system linking Mont-real and Brossard.

Federal Public Works Minister Christian Paradis announced the bridge repair work and the study yesterday.

Read more ....

SQ Raids Chain Of Window-Tinting Suppliers

From CTV News:

As many as 150 police officers swooped down on a chain of Quebec window-tinting suppliers Wednesday to dismantle an alleged drug and intimidation ring.

The SQ and local police services raided shops in several areas including Montreal, Repentigny, Mascouche and Trois-Rivieres. They arrested 27 people Wednesday morning and had warrants out for three more as part of Operation Dictature (Dictatorship). It was targeting a window-tinting business, X- Vitre Tinte

The alleged ringleader, Yannick Larose, was still being sought and was believed to be in Mexico, the SQ said.

Read more ....

Quebec Taxpayers Will Feel Caisse Losses

Logo of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
Photograph by: Pierre Obendrauf, Gazette file photo

From The Montreal Gazette:

Government agencies lost billions.

QUEBEC - It seems destined to trickle down onto the taxpayers' shoulders one way or another and it won't be pretty.

A National Assembly committee looking into the massive losses at the province's pension manager, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, yesterday started hearing tales of woe from government agencies and small pension managers with funds entrusted to the Caisse to invest.

They had one thing in common: shock. They were not told by the Caisse it was rolling the dice with their money by buying the now toxic non-asset backed commercial paper (ABCP) that caused the Caisse so much trouble. Most heard through the media about the Caisse's $40-billion subsequent loss after the market collapsed in August 2007.

Read more ....

At Least 70 Quebec GM Dealers To Close

From CBC News:

GM dealers in Quebec have mixed feelings about the company's decision to close nearly half its retail network in order to restructure and tap into government aid.

"I don't think it was expected, when we got into the business 20 years ago," said Jean-Claude Gravel, a Montrealer who owns four GM dealerships on the island.

GM's decision to shut down 40 per cent of its Canadian dealerships is a sign of the huge shift underway in the auto industry, and lot of dealers have different views of the direction the sector is taking, he said.

Read more ....

Firefighters Contain Dr. Penfield Blaze

Firefighters battle a five-alarm blaze Thursday in an old graystone mansion at 1558 Dr. Penfield Ave. in the Ville Marie borough. Photograph by: Marc Lambert, Gazette reader

From The Montreal Gazette:

MONTREAL - Montreal firefighters have contained a five-alarm fire on Dr. Penfield Ave. The fire caused significant damage to the historic building that used to house the U.S. consulate.

The all-clear on the fire was given at 2:48 p.m. Firefighters gained access to the building at 4 p.m.

They have no idea of the origins or cause of the fire.

Read more ....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quebec Roads Continue To Get Safer

Investigators inspect a child seat at the scene of a seven-car accident on Notre Dame St. in 2006. Photograph by: Tyrel Featherstone, Gazette file photo

From The Montreal Gazette:

Apparently, it was not a fluke.

After registering a dramatic decrease in road deaths and injuries last year, Quebec further improved its road-safety record during the first three months of 2009.

Over January, February and March, 92 people died on the province's roads, compared with 112 in the corresponding period last year, an 18-per-cent drop, Quebec's automobile-insurance board announced yesterday.

And the number of crash victims who required hospitalization fell to 437 in the first quarter, compared to 470 in the first three months of 2008, a seven-per-cent decrease.

Read more ....

2-22 Developers Defend Vision

Vacant lot where the 2-22 project is to be built at the corner of Ste. Catherine St. E. and St. Laurent Blvd. Photograph by: Marie-France Coallier, Gazette file photo

From The Montreal Gazette:

Gateway to arts district doesn't wow everyone.

Developers of the new gateway building to the city's entertainment district defended their vision last night amid concerns from residents it won't fit in to the neighbourhood.

The Société de développement Angus presented its vision for a seven-storey building on the southeast corner of St. Laurent Blvd. and Ste. Catherine St. to the Office de consultation publique de Montréal last night at a public information session held at the Holiday Inn Select in Chinatown.

The $16.5-million building would be called 2-22, representing the civic addresses on Ste. Catherine St. East it would occupy.

Read more

300 Officers Conduct Massive Drug Raids At Kanesatake

Operation Cerro was a joint operation of a mixed unit comprising First Nations Peacekeepers, the RCMP and the Surete du Quebec.

From The CTV:

More than 300 police officers are dismantling a marijuana operation at the Mohawk community of Kanesatake, northwest of Montreal, in one of the largest law-enforcement operations in the area since the 1990 Oka crisis.

The RCMP, the Surete du Quebec and Kanesatake Peacekeepers, acting on citizen complaints, are conducting raids at 13 locations in an attempt to dismantle the grow operation. At least 16 people have been arrested so far as part of Project Cerro, and police have seized drugs and equipment that were part of greenhouses.

The Mounties also said earlier reports of shots fired were actually "detonations," but further details were not immediately available.

Read more ....

Update #1: Raids uncover 8 grow-ops -- The Montreal Gazette

Update #2: 13 arrested in Kanesatake drug raids -- CBC

Traffic Tickets Rise As Montreal Police Up Quota

From CTV:

People have suspected for many years that police officers do indeed have quotas for issuing traffic tickets. Cynics say that the practice is nothing more than a cash grab for local governments.

And now, the Montreal Police union is saying it's true: police in Montreal have a minimum amount of tickets to issue everyday.

In fact, the Montreal Police Brotherhood says officers were recently told by their superiors to start issuing 28 tickets a day -- up from their last daily quota of 18.

Read more ....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Police Justify Cuffing Commuter

Photo: Bela Kosoian, seen Friday in the Metro station, says she intends to fight the $420 in fines. (John Morstad/For The Globe and Mail)

From The Globe And Mail:

MONTREAL — Police in Laval, Que., are denying allegations by a subway commuter that they went too far when they cuffed and ticketed her for refusing to hold onto an escalator handrail.

"There is nothing here to indicate that the police officers didn't do their job correctly," Laval police spokeswoman Constable Nathalie Lorrain said yesterday. "I understand that there is anger here, but the rules have to be enforced."

Bela Kosoian, a 38-year-old mother of two, said she was mistreated last Wednesday in a station in the Montreal suburb after two officers told her to hold onto the handrail and she didn't immediately comply because she didn't understand the instruction.

Read more ....

My Comment: I have never been ticketed by a transit cop ..... but I have seen how they operate at times. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt. There have been too many instances where I have seen them treat people like her with WAY TOO MUCH excessive force.

So Much For Gardening

Antoine Bernier had his lavender plant picked out at Les Jardins du Marché at Marché de l'Ouest in Dollard des Ormeaux Sunday, May 17, 2009. Victoria Day weekend is usually the time to start gardening, but Saturday's torrential rain and now two days of cold are making it near-impossible to plant. Photograph by: John Kenney, THE GAZETTE

From The Montreal Gazette:

'Sales are definitely down, no question'

After a week of warm weather and sunny skies, the May long weekend - traditionally the time to dig in the dirt and plant flowers and vegetables - is turning into a washout.

"The weather sucks," Stephen Scheunert, who owns Pointe Claire Nursery on the West Island, said yesterday.

First, there was rain on Saturday; then, the temperature plummeted yesterday, prompting some downtown strollers to bundle up with scarves and gloves. At 3 p.m., the temperature was 9 Celsius. The average high for May 17 is 19.3C.

Read more