By Colby Cosh - Friday, September 7, 2012 - 0 Comments
There is a natural law operating in Canadian media whereby the more knowledge you have of firearms, the more hilarious you find the press and TV reports that follow any prominent incident with guns. Sun News, for example, was quick to tell us after Tuesday night’s attack on the Parti Québécois victory party in Montreal that suspect Richard Henry Bain had been caught with “an automatic weapon.” Global News doubled down, arming Bain with a nonexistent “machine-gun.”
The Montreal Gazette thus deserves special credit for establishing the truth, and describing it in a fairly straightforward way: the weapon used by Bain was a Czech-made semiautomatic rifle, the CZ 858, specifically designed to be legal for sale and possession in Canada. It bears a superficial resemblance to the outlawed AK-47, making it popular with military hobbyists and wannabes who do tactical “sport” shooting at gun ranges. But, as the Gazette established, it is no different in principle from any semiautomatic hunting rifle. It conforms to Canadian law if it’s used with the required five-round magazine, and hundreds of Canadians own one.
Although online gun aficionadoes raised the possibility that Bain’s gun was a CZ 858 even as CBC and Radio-Canada still had their cameras rolling on the scene, the teevee news could be forgiven for mistaking the weapon for an AK-47. (General familiarity with small arms might actually make this error more likely, not less. Reporters with foreign experience are more likely to have seen an AK carried in the wild, and perhaps even fired in anger, than they are to have seen some nerd showing off a Czech simulacrum at a range in Prince Albert.) But it’s less easy to account for the statement made Wednesday by a Montreal police spokesman, who waved off questions about the gun by saying “It’s a prohibited or restricted weapon” and adding “A gun like that doesn’t go in the register.” The gun not only could go in the register; turns out it was in the register. Which is small comfort.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 11:41 AM - 0 Comments
An Iranian religious education organization under the ultimate supervision of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is attempting to establish a school in Montreal — violating Canadian regulations about what Iran is allowed to do in this country, and worrying expatriate Iranians who fear Iran’s growing influence here.
The Rastegaran organization runs a network of private schools across Iran. Its website lists six international schools, including one in Montreal.
The Montreal school is not yet open, and it is not clear what concrete steps have been taken towards that goal. An August 5 note on the Rastegaran website suggests there was a desire to open the school by September 1. A source in Iran familiar with Rastegaran told someone making inquiries on behalf of Maclean’s that money has been allocated for a school in Montreal.
Last weekend, the Rastegaran schools’ director, cleric Hojatoleslam Val Moslemin Meshkaat, was in Montreal. Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani, chargé d’affaires at Iran’s embassy in Ottawa, and cultural counselor Hamid Mohammadi both traveled to Montreal to meet with him.
By Blog of Lists - Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM - 0 Comments
Montreal has witnessed numerous Mob hits as the city’s crime families have battled for control over the decades.
Here are five that stand out:
1. Paolo Violi, 38: Since the 1950s, Montreal’s Cotroni family was the foremost Maﬁa clan in Canada, controlling swaths of territory across Ontario and Quebec. Until the ’70s, that is, when the Sicilian faction of the clan, headed by Nicolo Rizzuto, usurped them in a violent war for Canadian Maﬁa dominance. The conﬂict culminated in the 1978 murder of Paolo Violi, who led the Cotroni faction. He was shot dead during a card game in a Montreal café that January.
2. Nicolo Rizzuto Jr., 40: Nick Jr., the eldest child of Vito “Teﬂon Don” Rizzuto and grandson of the Rizzuto clan patriarch, was gunned down in a residential street in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood in December 2009. The brazen hit in broad daylight was perceived as an unprecedented challenge to Rizzuto rule in Montreal. Recent police investigations in Canada and the U.S. had weakened the family by landing several key members—including Nicolo Sr. and his son Vito—behind bars.
3. Agostino Cuntrera, 66: In June 2010, Agostino Cuntrera, a powerful Rizzuto associate implicated in the 1978 murder of Paolo Violi, was shot to death with his bodyguard outside his wholesale food warehouse in the St-Léonard area of Montreal. Just one month earlier, Vito Rizzuto’s brother-in-law went missing. Cuntrera’s assassination was taken as evidence of a concerted effort to supplant the Rizzuto clan in Montreal’s criminal underworld.
4. Nicolo Rizzuto, 86: Sitting at the kitchen table of his Montreal mansion, Nicolo Rizzuto was shot and killed with his wife and daughter nearby by a sniper who sent a bullet through a double-paned door in November 2010. He was the key ﬁgure in his family’s rise to Maﬁa power.
5. Salvatore Montagna, 40: The Montreal native became a powerful ﬁgure in the New York Maﬁa after a string of arrests in the mid-2000s. After the U.S. government forced him back to Canada in 2009, he is thought to have played a role in the killings of Rizzuto clan members. In November 2011, Montagna’s body was pulled from a frigid river north of Montreal. A man alleged to be a close associate of Vito Rizzuto was charged with murder.
Have you ever wondered which cities have the most bars, smokers, absentee workers and people searching for love? What about how Canada compares to the world in terms of the size of its military, the size of our houses and the number of cars we own? The nswers to all those questions, and many more, can be found in the first ever Maclean’s Book of Lists.
Buy your copy of the Maclean’s Book of Lists at the newsstand or order online now.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 9:57 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s remarks in Montreal today.
“Greetings, everyone. As the Prime Minister of…
The Prime Minister’s remarks in Montreal today.
“Greetings, everyone. As the Prime Minister of Canada, it’s always a great pleasure to welcome our friends to Montreal, a city renowned worldwide for its creativity and its dynamism. First of all, I’d like to thank Mr Desmarais for his kind introduction. I would also like to congratulate the organizers of the Conference of Montreal. They have done a truly remarkable job once again this year, and I would ask you to give a warm round of applause for a man with a great vision, the Founding Chairman of the Conference, Mr Gil Rémillard. I also want to note the presence of a number of Canadian companies that help to make this conference such a great success year after year.
“As it does every year, this Conférence is addressing a number of very hot topics related to the international economic situation. And the theme that most grabs our attention, once again this year, is obviously the instability of the global economy. The global economic crisis, whose effects we are still feeling, has revealed the most fundamental flaws of the Western economies. In that context, Canada remains in a very advantageous position.
“Nevertheless, Canada is very much a part of the global economy, and therefore, we are sometimes at the mercy of its challenges, particularly these days with the crisis in the Eurozone. I am genuinely encouraged by the agreement that was concluded this past weekend among members of the Eurozone to stabilize the Spanish banking situation. These are the kinds of measures that Europeans themselves are able to undertake, and that they must undertake, to move their economy forward. This is the type of self-help that Canada favours.
By Gustavo Vieira - Friday, June 8, 2012 at 9:01 AM - 0 Comments
Scores of protests flooded Montreal streets again Thursday night, this time targeting the opening…
Scores of protests flooded Montreal streets again Thursday night, this time targeting the opening festivities for this weekend’s Formula One Grand Prix, one of Canada’s largest tourist events, attracting as many as 300,000 visitors every year. Police however blocked the protesters from reaching the events, using the tactic of “kettling,” arresting dozens of protesters and cutting access to streets leading up to the Grand Prix celebrations.
The Montreal Gazette said the city centre was “a carnival” and called the demonstration “one of Montreal’s most colourful nightly student protests” even if police and protesters had a few clashes and foot chasing ensued throughout the evening.
The final tally of the evening was 37 people arrested, according to Montreal police quoted in the Gazette, while the CBC reported 39 arrests.
From the Montreal Gazette:
The downtown core was packed with Montrealers and tourists, eating dinner outside or roaming the sidewalks taking in the scene, as if it was all part of the season of summer festivals in Montreal.
Some smiled, laughed or covered their eyes at the sight of the naked marchers. Virtually everyone had their phones out, snapping photos.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 3:51 PM - 0 Comments
An individual suspected to be involved with the discovery of body parts in Ottawa and Montreal has been identified. Video of the killing may exist and the second package, the one that contained a human hand, is now said to have been bound for the Liberal party headquarters.
Before Question Period this afternoon, the NDP MP Randall Garrison delivered a statement offering the NDP’s thoughts for the Conservative staff impacted by yesterday’s discovery.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians were horrified to hear of the senseless and cowardly mailing of human remains to Conservative Party headquarters and the interception of a second package at Canada Post’s Ottawa sorting centre. Our sympathies go out to the staff at the Conservative offices who opened the package. Our thoughts are also with Canada Post employees who had to deal with the second package containing human remains. They were all victims of an outrageous and reprehensible act. We encourage anyone with information on this crime to contact police immediately. On behalf of New Democrats, and I think all members of this House across all party lines, we stand in solidarity with postal workers and especially the Conservative Party staff. We condemn these acts and stand united together against these crimes.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
Police have confirmed that the foot and hand were mailed from Montreal. The Gazette reports that police believe the body parts in Ottawa are linked to a torso in Montreal. The Citizen reports an arrest could be made in a matter of hours.
Conservative staff are understandably traumatized.
By Jacob Richler - Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 10:12 AM - 0 Comments
A Maison Boulud for Montreal, and a Cafe Boulud for Toronto add two stars to the Canadian culinary constellation
A funny thing happened at the $1,500-a-seat Relais & Châteaux Dîner des grands chefs at Gotham Hall in Manhattan: New York chef Daniel Boulud teamed up with Normand Laprise of Toqué! in Montreal and Jonathan Gushue of Langdon Hall, in Cambridge, Ont., to form an unofficial Team Canada.
“It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this—it’s all in a great spirit,” Boulud told me later from his office above his flagship restaurant, Daniel, in New York, whence he orchestrates an 11-restaurant empire spread over three continents.
The reason for his change of flag was simple: he is poised to plant a fresh one here at the end of the month when he opens a Maison Boulud at the renovated Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal. Then in August he will open his Café Boulud in the new Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 11:37 PM - 0 Comments
Greg Fingas updates his rankings.
Once again Mulcair ranks well ahead of the second tier of candidates following another week packed with endorsements and another strong debate performance. Unfortunately nobody seriously questioned what his plans are in structuring the opposition – which means that it’s no surprise that he didn’t bother to explain himself, but also leaves an obvious risk for his campaign if he can’t escape the question next week.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 9:08 AM - 0 Comments
The NDP leadership candidates are in Montreal for the penultimate debate of the race. You can stream the proceedings online here or here. We won’t be live-blogging the festivities on account of some travel, but we’ll be by later to round-up the post-game reaction.
By John Geddes - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM - 0 Comments
The Montreal MP on what would push him to the separatist side, and why he’s his mother’s—not his father’s—son
Bearing what is arguably the most famous surname in Canadian politics, Montreal MP Justin Trudeau is no stranger to public scrutiny. But lately, he has drawn even more notice than usual, most recently for musing in a radio interview about separatism in a way his father never would have. Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s eldest son, now 40, has emerged as one of the most closely watched figures in a third-place Liberal party struggling to regain its stature on the federal scene.
Q: When you told a radio interviewer recently that you’d be tempted to switch to the separatist side in Quebec if Canada was dragged far enough down the road that the Harper government is travelling, what sort of reaction did you expect?
A: The emphasis of that statement was that someone who obviously loves Canada with everything he has, has been right here and fights for Canada all the time—for him to say something like that, something must be very wrong with Canada. The big frustration for me is that people are growing so cynical about politics that you see them basically shrug and say, “Oh, yeah. Who cares that Harper is shutting down debate? Who cares that he’s building prisons, and everything? All the politicians are the same so why should we be outraged about one rather than the other?” And my point is Canadians need to wake up. This is not the Canada they’d recognize if they looked closely.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 16, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Seven of the eight candidates for NDP leader debate matters in Montreal.
The only candidate to trigger a “bravo” from the audience was Cullen. The MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley in B.C. apologized for the NDP’s support of the nomination of justice Michael J. Moldaver to the Supreme Court of Canada. Moldaver does not speak French.
Talk of a cross-Canada plan to alleviate poverty and homelessness gave Mulcair pause and resulted in the only moment in which one candidate took a position different from the others.
By Cathy Gulli - Monday, November 28, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 3 Comments
The high cost of aging infrastructure inspires researchers seeking the longevity of the parthenon
Deep beneath the streets of Montreal’s entertainment district, running alongside the usual water, sewage and gas pipes that lie underground in every community across the country, something entirely unique is buried: 1.5 km of carbon steel tubes that will eventually funnel the neighbourhood’s garbage, recycling and organic waste into a massive subterranean container with a capacity of up to 10 tonnes. The trash will be sucked through the pipes and into the container by four fans with a combined power of 440 kilowatts, and later trucked to a landfill or another destination.
Once up and running in 2014, the Envac system will be Canada’s first municipal automated vacuum waste collection program—a stark contrast to the weekly curbside pickup most people are used to, which is labour-intensive and inefficient. “Today we are collecting waste like we did hundreds of years ago,” says Sean Monclús of Envac, who has been working with the city of Montreal to set up the system, which is costing $8.2 million. That makes no sense, he says: “If we have waste water underground, why not the waste?”
Perhaps most surprising about the implementation of this innovative program is the fact that it’s being done in Quebec, which has become the poster child for aging infrastructure, and the perils of failing to manage municipal services in a progressive way. In Laval in 2006, five people were killed, including a pregnant woman, when the neglected Concorde overpass crashed onto cars below. Parts of the Champlain Bridge corridor, which crosses the St. Lawrence, have been deemed “mediocre to deficient,” according to an annual inspection obtained by the Montreal Gazette. And in July, a 25-tonne concrete beam collapsed from Montreal’s Ville Marie tunnel onto an expressway travelled by 100,000 vehicles every weekday (no one was hurt). “But it’s not just a Montreal problem,” said Mayor Gérald Tremblay then. “When I talk to my colleagues in other big Canadian cities it’s the same issue.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 11:24 AM - 1 Comment
Laurin Liu goes back to school.
She shared an anecdote to show them “how people really aren’t used to seeing young people in politics.” On one of their first days of work in the House of Commons, an MP from another party tried to give one of her young NDP colleagues an envelope, thinking she was a messenger or a page.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:53 AM - 41 Comments
(This post last updated at 7:46pm)
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Insite safe injection facility—a unanimous ruling in the facility’s favour—is here.
The Minister made a decision not to extend the exemption from the application of the federal drug laws to Insite. The effect of that decision, but for the trial judge’s interim order, would have been to prevent injection drug users from accessing the health services offered by Insite, threatening the health and indeed the lives of the potential clients. The Minister’s decision thus engages the claimants’ s. 7 interests and constitutes a limit on their s. 7 rights. Based on the information available to the Minister, this limit is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. It is arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the CDSA, which include public health and safety. It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite’s premises.
10:46am. Liberal health critic Hedy Fry applauds.
10:51am. The Canadian Public Health Association applauds.
11:37am. Ms. Davies raised the court’s decision in QP just now, provoking a response from Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 15 Comments
Language advocates are increasingly leery of immigration
If, as one of Quebec’s own websites proclaims, the province is on the hunt for “willing, dynamic people” to immigrate to its shores, then Jessica Rosales almost certainly fits the bill. The college-trained Rosales and her husband, Roberto Belmar Torres, a design engineer, wanted to emigrate from their native Chile and, spurred by a string of cheery, unsolicited emails from Quebec’s Immigration Department, the pair chose to settle in Montreal in March 2010. “We decided on Quebec for the French culture,” the 37-year-old Rosales says. “We chose it even though we knew it would be harder.”
It certainly was. Because neither could speak the language, they each took a 10-month French course. Save for the occasional nervous breakdown (“I got burned out, I couldn’t stop crying,” says Rosales of one episode) that even prompted the purchase of a pair of one-way tickets to Toronto that they never used, the pair is quite happy with their lives here. They even found jobs in their new-found language. Jessica is an administrative assistant at a refugee resource centre, while Belmar Torres works at a large Montreal engineering firm. They work almost entirely in French.
Yet increasingly, language advocates are turning this apparent success story into a narrative of decline of the French language in Quebec. The reason: though the pair conduct much of their public lives in French, they speak their native Spanish in the confines of their home. Earlier this year, the governing Liberals announced plans to cut the yearly number of immigrants allowed into the province by 4,000, to 50,000, by 2012, while the the right-of-centre Action démocratique du Québec has called for a further clawback to 46,000. The Parti Québécois believe “immigration should be set at the ability to Frenchify new arrivals,” says PQ spokesperson Éric Gamache, and popular former Péquiste minister François Legault, who is flirting with the idea of running for premier, has called for the number to be capped at 40,000.
Others are even more strident. “We must become our own country, period,” militant sovereignist Gérald Larose told La Presse in the wake of a report detailing a decrease in the percentage of Quebec-born francophones. His argument: an independent Quebec would have absolute power over its immigration policy.
On the face of it, so-called “allophones” (immigrants whose native language is neither French nor English) would seem an odd target, and not only because, unlike the Canada-born English population living in Quebec, they are required by law to attend primary and secondary school in French. Like nearly every other province in the country, Quebec is faced with a looming demographic problem brought on by lower birth rates—a void often filled by immigrants. Ontario, for example, took in roughly 104,000 non-refugee immigrants in 2010 alone.
And even with 54,000 new arrivals a year, Quebec is falling behind. According to demographer Jacques Henripin, the province needs between 70,000 and 80,000 immigrants a year to compensate for its lower birth rate—people like Rosales and Belmar Torres. To Rosales, the idea that Quebec would cut down on the number of immigrants allowed into the province is absurd. “I’m a taxpayer,” she says. “Who needs who?”
The feeling is often mutual. By and large, Quebecers have long cast a beady eye at Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism; a recent Angus Reid poll noted that 66 per cent of francophones in the province believe multiculturalism is a threat to the French language. Practically every major demographic report released in the province over the last two decades has sparked debate and uproar about the survival of the language.
But does the decline of francophones necessarily mean the decline of French, when those immigrants arriving here must by law attend school in la langue de René Lévesque? Marc Termote thinks so. The demographer authored a recent report illustrating the demographic decline of Quebec-born francophones in the province; he says they will be overtaken as a majority by immigrants by 2031. And while he makes pains to say he isn’t a Larose-style sovereignist—“We don’t need independence to ensure the survival of a language,” he says—he believes the sheer numbers, coupled with the creeping bilingualism of Montreal, is detrimental to the language. “I am one of those people who says that the government should have no say whatsoever over what language is used at home,” Termote says. However, “the problem is that the language used at home becomes the language of the children.”
This wouldn’t be a problem in, say, the overwhelmingly francophone city of Saguenay. But roughly 75 per cent of Quebec’s immigrants settle in the 500 sq. km of Montreal where, says Termote, “there is free choice in what language you work in.” (Montreal is home to roughly 48,000 businesses with less than 50 employees that don’t fall under the province’s language provisions.) “The problem is Montreal. In the regions there are no problems. You will only speak French in Chicoutimi.”
“It’s not up to immigrants to resolve the problems of French in Quebec,” Termote adds. “We tell immigrants to have children, because we don’t want to have any. We tell them to go out to the regions, because we don’t want to, we tell them to learn French in a hurry, because French is declining. I can’t accept that the future of the French in Quebec is the responsibility of immigrants.”
Still others see no problem at all with the immigrant influx into Quebec. Jean-Benoît Nadeau, author of the book The Story of French, recently published a column decrying the accepted definition of the term “francophone” in the province. “French is no longer the language of one ethnic group, but one for all ethnic groups,” Nadeau writes. “Only in Quebec do we tolerate such a restrictive definition. Why not include the woven sash or ketchup tortière in the definition of francophone while we’re at it? It’s a disgrace.”
Jessica Rosales agrees. After being courted by the Quebec government (and spending an estimated $13,000 in fees and plane tickets) to get here, then spending nearly a year studying the language, she knows quite well that she can still vote with her feet. “I like Quebec, I like Montreal, but I can live somewhere else.”
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 12:48 PM - 1 Comment
Tops in North America, but hardly perfect
With its 535-km—and growing—bicycle network, popular Bixi bike-sharing program and vocal pro-pedaling lobby, Montreal tops North American cities on a new index of the best urban cycling centres. The Bicycle-Friendly Cities 2011 index, compiled by a Danish consulting firm, looked at 80 major cities around the world. Montreal ranked No. 8, best in North America, and with a bicycle infrastructure that “should embarrass other cities on that continent,” according to the compilers of the index. Still, the consultants found room for improvement, suggesting Montreal put bike lanes on both sides of designated streets, for safety reasons, rather than sticking with the current bi-directional lanes on just one side. The top three cycling cities were in Europe: Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Barcelona. But they were followed, perhaps surprisingly, by Tokyo, just a notch ahead of Berlin.
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 5 Comments
Nesbitt Elementary considered “one of the most successful bilingual programs in the province”
The closing of an English school is hardly news in Quebec. Fourteen institutions have shut down in as many years in Montreal alone, thanks in large part to a dwindling English population and language laws preventing children of French parents and immigrants from attending. Yet, in the case of Nesbitt Elementary School, home to some 420 students and, according to commissioner Julien Feldman, “one of the most successful bilingual programs in the province,” the culprit isn’t numbers or stifling regulation. According to many Nesbitt proponents, it’s the victim of age-old infighting between Catholic and Protestant factions within the English Montreal School Board itself. And, in an odd twist, one of the school’s would-be saviours is none other than Louise Beaudoin, a staunch French-language hawk and former Parti Québécois minister who fought for decades against expanding access to English schools.
Nesbitt, which faces the chopping block in January, is located in Rosemont, a traditionally francophone neighbourhood with a significant English population. Because of this historical reality, Nesbitt is one of the few schools in Montreal’s east end to offer both majority English and French immersion programs. The result: French families who qualify (under Quebec law that means at least one parent had to have attended English school) can send their children to learn English, while English children receive nearly 70 per cent of their education in French. It has certainly impressed Beaudoin, the district MNA. “In an era of alarming dropout rates, it’s important to support the schools that have a winning and innovative formula,” she wrote in a letter to Nesbitt principal Mary Theophilopoulos last June.
Yet, despite the unexpected plug, and a noisy grassroots campaign on the part of Nesbitt parents, it remains on the list of six schools targeted for closure next year. Not even the EMSB can fully explain why. According to board policy, there are five reasons (including low enrolment numbers and proximity to other schools) why a school would be considered for closure. And yet, EMSB director general Robert Stocker concedes that “the school doesn’t fit into any of the five criteria.”
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 - Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 2 Comments
Shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords returns to Congress for the U.S. debt vote, tens of thousands of Somalis flee famine in Kenya
Declaring war on war criminals
For years, the federal government stubbornly refused to release the names and faces of suspected war criminals hiding in Canada—for fear of violating their privacy. But after renewed pressure from the media, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives finally relented, posting mug shots of 30 wanted war criminals online. The result? Six of those fugitives are behind bars, two have been deported, and the rest are no doubt scrambling for cover. In this country, privacy should never trump justice.
More than two-thirds of British doctors believe bicycle helmets should not be mandatory, and that forcing riders to wear them may prompt some people to give up biking altogether (and relinquish the obvious health benefits). But that surprising conclusion, contained in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, doesn’t jibe with the Canadian experience. According to a study conducted here, the number of cyclists suffering serious head injuries is down nearly 30 per cent over the past decade, largely because children are now wearing helmets when they pedal.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 11:32 AM - 0 Comments
City proposes alternate routes, adds to bus schedule
The city of Montreal is working to mitigate potentially chaotic traffic congestion after a concrete beam collapsed onto a busy thoroughfare near the city’s downtown core. The incident occurred early Sunday morning when the beam fell from an overpass onto the eastbound lanes of the Ville Marie Expressway. No one was hurt. Montreal’s transit authority, the Société de transport de Montréal, has increased bus service to downtown and the west side of Montreal Island. The city has also suggested alternative routes for drivers coming into the downtown core from the surrounding areas. Parking is prohibited on swaths of streets like St. Antoine St., René Levesque Blvd. and Ontario St. until the Ville Marie Expressway is reopened.
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 20 Comments
The bike-sharing program hits a speed bump amid questions about management and its business model
It is as Montreal as a two-cheek kiss, a made-in-Quebec success story that has garnered both awards and lucrative contracts around the world. Yet the Bixi bike-sharing system, best known for its sleek two-wheelers of the same name, is plagued by lack of administrative oversight, questionable management and a business plan that has it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, with a whopping $37-million debt after only two years of operation.
Such is the contention of a scathing report by the city’s auditor general’s office, published in mid-June, which takes both the city and Bixi administrators to task for “neglecting or avoiding several elementary management rules,” and the “illegal nature” of Bixi’s initiative to sell the system to cities including Toronto, Ottawa and London, England. And while administrators have hit back—Bixi spokesperson Michel Philibert recently called the report “old news” in an email exchange with Maclean’s—it seems clear now that the beloved Bixi system won’t likely be able to run without a regular injection of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Bixi began life as part of the city’s 2007 transportation plan entitled “Reinvent Montreal,” a wide-ranging plan that sought to coax Montrealers out of their cars, and make Montreal “a bicycling city par excellence,” according to an executive committee decree from that year. The idea of a bike-sharing program wasn’t new—Paris, notably, has had one since 2007—but it was the first in North America, and a pet project of Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay. The “pay and go” idea was developed by Montreal’s parking authority, while Montreal industrial designer Michel Dallaire crafted the bike.
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 John Geddes - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 54 Comments
The NDP leader has left a lasting legacy on Canadian politics
Jack Layton died after a months-long battle with cancer in the early morning hours of Monday, August 22. He was 61. Below is Maclean’s post-election cover story on the charismatic NDP leader, originally published on June 16, 2011. For more on Jack Layton’s life and his fight against the disease that would eventually take it, click here.
The Hudson Yacht Club, founded in 1909, doesn’t look like a promising spot for a young left-winger to get his first real taste of rebellion. The sailboats bob at their moorings near a sandy beach on the shore of Lake of Two Mountains, formed by the widening of the Ottawa River before it empties into the St. Lawrence just west of Montreal. The clubhouse of cream-coloured stucco and cedar shingles looks like the kind of place that would have a cozy private bar, decorated with nautical pennants—and it does. Over the mantle of the stone fireplace, there’s even a framed portrait of the Queen.
Jack Layton pretty much lived at the club during the summers of his childhood and teenage years. His parents, after all, were pillars of Hudson’s well-heeled English-speaking community. They sailed an 18-foot lightning, but the club’s main appeal for Jack was its outdoor pool. He was a fast swimmer. In an old black and white snapshot of the club’s competitive team, he’s the wiry kid wearing a medal around his neck and the grin that would later become famous.
Behind that halcyon image, though, was a reality that began nagging Jack as a teenager in the mid-1960s. Hudson’s population of about 3,500 was perhaps three-quarters English at the time. But what about the rest—the less prosperous French-speaking families? They weren’t members of the club. Either they couldn’t afford the fee, or they didn’t know anyone who might invite them to join. With Quebec’s Quiet Revolution well under way, the club presented a glaring example of how the province’s linguistic divide tended to run along economic and social fault lines. Layton recalls growing uneasy about the fact that while he swam in the club’s ﬁrst-rate pool, the French kids were cooling off in the polluted river.