Last Spring I discovered this fantastic trail along the edge of the mountain, overlooking the vast expanse of thick mixed forest behind the Cartier Memorial. I found it after forcing myself to climb the steep rocky incline leading up the side, under the Eastern Lookout. From it’s shape, I thought it may have been carved out by one of the early-thaw streams that pour down the rock-face, but as I pulled myself up by means of exposed roots, I realized it was more likely to be the remains of a small landslide. The pile of boulders and freshly churned earth at the bottom should have been indication enough. The climb up was more challenging than I had anticipated, but upon catching my breath and turning around, I was delighted to see the Plateau and the East End stretching out to the horizon, the flames of the oil refineries and the orange floodlights of the port outlining the river. There are several small, informal trails which run between the Cross and the Eastern Lookout, with several small clearings along the very edge of the mountain, each affording spectacular views of the city below. What’s perhaps best of all, is the relative silence. Here, there is no noise pollution, as all I could hear was the delightful symphony of forest life. The view provided a fascinating juxtaposition; despite being acutely aware of my relative isolation and bucolic surroundings, the city – teaming with life and vibrancy – was never out of sight.
The STM recently announced its intention to solicit corporate sponsorship for the Métro, something which has never been done before. This is not the same as posting advertisements; the new plan seeks sponsorship of the individual lines, with branding occurring pretty much everywhere, from the ubiquitous, landmark Métro signs to the ticket kiosks to the maps, branding, branding, branding everywhere.
Andy Riga has excellent coverage of this issue, which can be found here: Metropolitan News
I think Michael Fish really nailed it when he asks if the corporatist elements of our society have any shame left. No, clearly they don’t – the STM won’t make more than $155 million over ten years. When you compare that to the billions of dollars per year in the operations budget, you begin to get that queasy feeling the corporate branding will be going to line the pockets of city administrators and STM corporate governance. It certainly won’t speed up the deployment of our new trains, that much is certain.
As you can imagine, both Projet Montréal and Transport2000 have come out against this plan. I for one am also against it – our Métro was conceived as being sponsorship-free, or if you’d prefer, people-power is the sponsorship. Frankly it’s bad enough we have to contend with television, advertisements, scrolling-advertisements and the variety of people actually handing things over to you, do we really need to ‘ride the Bell line to switch at Monsanto Station?’ Moreover, do we really want the pride of Montréal’s public-transit network sponsored by, say, General Motors Corporation?
Enough is enough – if the STM really wants to increase overall revenue, they should stick with the original plan, that is – to gradually extend the Métro to cover the entire metropolitan region. Doing so would allow the STM to collect revenue from more than 3 million people, as opposed to half that number currently.
The system was designed to put art and architecture to the forefront, but gradually, we’ve let the STM remove artwork and alter the design of the stations without adequately consulting the artistic community which designed the stations in the first place. Initially the system was designed to act as a new kind of public art gallery, in which each station could be experienced for its own artistic merit. What happened to that?
Think about the lost artwork the next time you’re in McGill Métro station, where the stained glass mural has big gaping holes which never get fixed, yet the rest of the station can be covered in advertisements overnight.
I strongly encourage my fellow Montréalers to resist this invasion and manipulation of public space. I for one will deface any corporate sponsorship I see. Let’s see how much of that $15.5 million per annum they can save when they have to contend with rider dis-satisfaction and a population hell-bent on vandalizing corporate sponsorship.
If Pauline Marois truly believes she is protecting and promoting Franco-Québecois culture by proposing an initiative to force Francophone and Allophone students into French-language CEGEPs, than it necessarily implies that she also believes the future of Québec does not go further than our geographic borders, and that our youth need not be trained for the Global Village already in the works. In sum, through this proposed extension of Bill 101, Ms. Marois is setting us up to take a fall, one which will undoubtedly sever our people from fully participating in global initiatives, and will further result in a servile and dependent people. If this is her idea of increasing the individual sovereignty of the people of Québec, than we should prepare ourselves for the bondage-by-fear characteristic of the Duplessis Era. When it comes time for an election in this province, it will be a choice between an embattled neo-Liberal party and one who would have you believe that limiting the education choices of adults is a step towards national independence. That kind of thinking is reminiscent of Sarah Palin’s illogical gaffes and the Tea Party’s fear-based rhetoric than it is of cold, sober Canadian political philosophy. Let’s not go down that road of no return that has called like a Siren to so many befuddled Americans. Make no mistake – Pauline Marois is the bottom of the barrel, and no self-respecting, sovereign Québecois should ever want her to lead this province. It would be disastrous; here’s why.
Nationalism is dead. Pan-Nationalism is the future.
Nationalism has shown its dark side time and time again, a leading cause of world conflict for most of the twentieth century. Think of the Balkans in the 1990s; think of Italy’s mad dash for colonies in the 1930s; I hate to use this point as it’s cliché, but we can’t escape the reality that Nationalism drove the Nazi movement – indeed every fascist movement – and Nationalism can be found as a root cause of every genocide. So why do we, the sovereign people of Québec, pay any attention to a political party which uses Nationalism as its ideological foundation?
The people of Québec are part of a larger Franco-Canadian nation, but we are Pan-National by nature. Neither Québec nor Canada has ever been a homogeneous society – even as far back as our colonial period, French settlers, Canadiens and many Aboriginal nations shared our land, inter-married, learned each others ways, customs and languages. If the Voyageurs had not been accepted into Aboriginal nations and families, we never would have prospered, never would have survived. The ‘purest’ Pur-Laine Québecois has plenty of Aboriginal and Irish in them – our cultural reality is manifestly plural. The foundation of our current inter-cultural society can find its ideological base in the necessities of our people’s colonial experience. We became a new kind of people, one ideally suited for the centuries to come – a people in which adaptation, cosmopolitanism and multi-lingualism were necessary keys to survival.
The world is getting smaller every day. In order to survive and prosper in the decades to come, we, the people of Québec, will have to decide whether we have the collective will to participate in a global economy, a global network of governments, and all the global initiatives required to end war, hunger, disease and the destruction of our global environment. As communications and transportation networks develop, we find ourselves sharing the planet in a manner akin to a large village – and in the process, we are becoming more and more aware that we must collaborate and cooperate in order to achieve trans-national and trans-cultural goals. In essence, we are moving towards an increasingly inter-cultural world, and the future will belong to the people most capable of living a global existence
So when the leader of the Province’s once-respected sovereignist party proposes to limit the education opportunities of the people, of the youth in particular, this same leader is cutting us off from the world, and this will harm us gravely. Pauline Marois is proposing the ghettoization of Franco-Québecois culture, and by doing so seeks to reverse the trend set during the Quiet Revolution. Ms. Marois thinks the Quiet Revolution is over, passé. It isn’t, it is the heart and soul of Québec’s progressive movement. By attempting to extend Bill 101 into the CEGEPs, she is attempting to limit education opportunities for all communities, while further limiting the natural trend towards multi-lingualism in post-secondary education. What’s worse is the fact that Anglophone CEGEPs would have their funding cut in addition to restricted enrollment, while Francophone and Allophone students would go to unilingual CEGEPs and universities instead of the already multi-lingual ‘Anglophone’ institutions.
A better idea would be to ensure all the students of Québec are taught both English and French equally at the primary, secondary and CEGEP levels, so as to guarantee a fully bilingual workforce. This is not something from the pages of futurist science fiction; it could be accomplished easily within a couple generations, yet we lack the will to be daring, creative. This is manifest in the policies of Ms. Marois, who would rather own a little North American fiefdom, with the people of Québec as her dependent subjects, than realize our nation’s full potential. In her rhetoric, she prepares her followers not to lead, but to be held captive by fear – of the other, the Anglophone, of Canada, of the immigrant who learns both English and French. For all intents and purposes, she may as well sell you fear of the British Empire, of Loyalists or the Orange Order. She wants to induce a siege mentality in this province, despite the fact that there is no threat to the French language, culture or society. Each year there are more of us, and each year more immigrants learn French and adapt to our ways – more often of their own volition than through force and coercion.
If our dearly bewildered opposition leader is given carte-blanche, she will undeniably erase the progress made during the Quiet Revolution. She will provoke Québecois of all language and cultural groups to leave the province for better opportunities elsewhere, force a referendum no one wants, and jeopardize our economic stability. But what is worse is that she will turn this province into a ghetto, and our people will suffer the indignity of a ghetto mentality. Such an indignity will leave an indelible mark, and we will perish as a community, as a society, because of it.