By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 0 Comments
And so Lise St. Denis, dressed here in black and white, elected as a New Democrat some eight months ago, slipped from one party to the other. To her left sat Denis Coderre, beaming. To her right, Bob Rae listened intently. Both men had helped her with her chair when she arrived at the table. When she finished, the interim Liberal leader patted her on the back. She and they seemed reasonably happy with this little moment.
However serene the undertaking, however justifiable this business of euphemistically crossing the proverbial floor, it was not so easily explained. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 6:51 PM - 34 Comments
The Scene. “I don’t believe,” the Prime Minister once declared, “that any taxes are good taxes.” Most everything Stephen Harper says is sure to be contested by at least a couple people, but on this point all parties now seem mostly to agree. Even if they do make a great show still of objecting to each other.
“Mr. Speaker,” the NDP’s Libby Davies began this afternoon, not bothering to pause for her colleagues’ applause and talking fast, “the Conservatives’ reckless policy of corporate tax cuts has helped gut our country’s manufacturing sector. The Conservatives do not mind helping profitable oil companies and the big banks just love the handouts that they get, but there has been no benefit for the manufacturing sector, and now we have lost hundreds of thousands of good jobs. Nowhere is this more evident than in Ontario, with even Mr. Hudak saying as much. Will the Prime Minister wake up, see the evidence and cancel his next round of pointless corporate tax giveaways?”
The Prime Minister stood to respond, but a rejoinder had already been tabled moments before by Conservative MP Eve Adams. ”The last thing Canada’s families need now,” she had warned the House, “is the NDP’s massive job-killing tax hikes that would cost jobs and hurt our economy.”
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 3:40 PM - 1 Comment
Project could take 10 years to build, cost $5 billion
The federal government announced Wednesday it would replace Montreal’s crumbling Champlain bridge with a brand new structure. Transport Minister Denis Lebel was in Montreal for the announcement of the project, which is expected to take 10 years and cost $5 billion. In its accompanying press release, Transport Canada says it wants to explore implementing tolls on the bridge, and using public-private partnership to build it. Lebel said he doesn’t know when construction will start, adding that his ministry needs to conduct more studies.
By Philippe Gohier - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 12:05 PM - 9 Comments
A history of bad design choices now haunts the city as its bridges, roads and tunnels crumble
When a grapefruit-sized chunk of concrete smashed through the windshield of a 29-year-old man’s car in Montreal last Thursday, city ofﬁcials quickly scrambled to the scene. Like most Montrealers, they assumed the worst—that it was yet another in a series of mishaps involving the city’s crumbling infrastructure. Their worries turned out to be misplaced. Within a few hours, police had eliminated the possibility that the object was once a part of the overpass above busy Papineau Avenue and were instead investigating whether someone had thrown it. “I want to reassure the people of Montreal: the rock that caused this incident has nothing to do with the structure,” Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay told reporters at the scene, deftly avoiding the very word “concrete.” “Vehicles can pass in total safety.” Still, it’s hard to blame even the most paranoid residents for assuming the contrary. It’s raining concrete in Montreal, it seems, and the situation has people on edge.
The most recent incident occurred in late July, when a 15-m long, 25-tonne chunk of concrete fell onto the busy Ville-Marie expressway in the city’s downtown core. Miraculously, no one was injured. (Transport Québec estimates 100,000 vehicles travel along the expressway daily.) Montrealers were no doubt shocked by the accident but, at this point, it may be a stretch to say they were surprised.
The accident was, after all, a grim reminder of a similar collapse in nearby Laval in 2006. Five people died and six more were seriously injured when the de la Concorde overpass came tumbling down onto cars travelling below. And the de la Concorde collapse was itself reminiscent of an incident in which eight heavy concrete beams fell from the Souvenir Boulevard overpass in Laval in 2000, killing one and injuring two others.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Safety concerns fueled by government reluctance to release report
Quebeckers living in the Montreal area are growing increasingly concerned over the safety of the Champlain Bridge. Their disquiet was fueled by the federal government’s initial reluctance to release the results of a study into the costs of repairing the crumbling bridge, which is used by 60 million people each year. Before agreeing to release it Wednesday, Quebec Transport Minister Denis Lebel said it could cause “turmoil” among the public, who would misinterpret the complexity of the issue. Premier Jean Charest had spoken along similar terms, which raised questions among the public. In March, a report was issued stating that the bridge was severely deteriorating, and that “it could be expected to collapse partially or altogether in a significant seismic event.” Wednesday’s report pegged the cost of replacing the bridge at more than $1 billion.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
The government has decided to release the Champlain Bridge report, but denies this constitutes a change in position.
“I think that they will be released, actually,” Sara MacIntyre, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. ”I think that those reports will be out shortly.”
A spokeswoman for Lebel added that a statement from his office would be out Wednesday afternoon. She rejected the suggestion that the government had a change of heart. ”It’s just a question of timing,” Vanessa Schneider said. ”We received the report, I think, in the department just before the election, and as you know, Minister Lebel was appointed in late May, so it’s just a question of going through all our processes.”
Connoisseurs of the subject matter can read the report here.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 11:13 AM - 16 Comments
Transport Minister Denis Lebel explains why the general public is not allowed to see a report on the condition of Montreal’s Champlain Bridge.
“When you release information into the public that is handled by people who are not exactly connaisseurs of the subject matter, that can create worries that I do not want to create,” Lebel said. ”Above all, I do not want people to try politicizing this issue and to work against the public interest. This isn’t the time to be starting something that would create insecurity in the public. And I’m not saying there are things in the report that would create insecurity; I’m simply saying that we treat very thoroughly everything in such reports to allow for smooth and secure transport.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 11:31 PM - 27 Comments
Be it so decreed that something must be done about the Champlain Bridge. On this we are all agreed. On this we are united. Upon this we must drive together toward the future. Or at least Verdun.
Or so we might, if we were not so divided on pretty much every other matter raised this evening. There are apparently some gaps not even the Champlain Bridge can transcend.
For instance, hockey metaphors. Or, more specifically, the proper hockey metaphor to describe the usefulness of Bloc Québécois and New Democrat MPs in the House of Commons. Continue…