Montreal Saturday Night – St. John’s Ambulance Edition

Glow - Saturday Night

Get first aid training.


After a delightful evening up in the Mile End about a week ago I came across an unfortunate scene on the way to Laurier Métro. An elderly woman was riding her bike when a bag slung across the handlebar had become ensnared between the spokes, causing her to take a nasty fall. Head first.

I didn’t see it happen, just that several cars had stopped and a crowd had gathered in its aftermath. The woman was on the ground, twisted up into her bike, trying to get up while people gathered near commanded in both official languages not to get up.

That’s when I knew to step in.

I got my first aid training at St. John’s Ambulance last fall, graciously paid for by my previous employer. The instructors and instruction was top-notch, and it’s conveniently located right next to Jarry Métro in the same building as Justin Trudeau’s constituency office (so there’s a reason to go right there). I took the CSST ‘secouriste’ first aid course, which covers all the basics. Most importantly, it gives you the confidence to involve yourself and execute simple first aid techniques that will, in most cases and above all, provide immediate comfort and stability in an emergency situation. In retrospect I wish I had taken the course earlier, as it has so far proven quite useful. You may remember an incident of police brutality I witnessed at the April 3rd anti-austerity demonstration, in which a retired teacher was smashed with a shield by a marauding line of riot cops.

Then, like last Saturday night, it was instinctual to step in; there’s nothing nearly as serious as head trauma. I kept her head still and ran through the litany of questions – name, address, where do you hurt, who can we call, do you know where you are etc.

Ultimately it seemed to look worse than it actually was. She was wearing a bike helmet, a really geeky-looking one at that, and it may very well have saved her life.

We’ve lost too many sisters in bike accidents recently…

In any event, get first aid training. Ask your employer if they need a secouriste and volunteer to do the training, it’s entirely worth it. It has nothing to do with saving lives; if you’re lucky you’ll never be in a position in which a life depends on your actions. I prefer that responsibility ultimately lie in the hands of paramedics, nurses, doctors and surgeons. First aid is about providing comfort first and foremost.


As an aside to the aforementioned, the emergency response was as follows:




Someone needs to explain to me what the logic is here. This was a bike accident. I understand that the cops are needed to manage traffic and see if it was a hit and run or drunk driving accident, and that the firefighters are the mandated first responder in our city (though the logic behind that one escapes me as well), I just don’t understand why they need to dispatch a firetruck and several firefighters when a smaller vehicle and fewer responders would suffice.

The extant method must be obscenely expensive.

The firefighters and police who responded initially did what they could to help the woman, but they all had to defer to the paramedics who were ultimately responsible for securing her neck and moving her onto the stretcher and into the ambulance.

There must have been at least a dozen people and four emergency vehicles responding to a bike accident.

This seems to be a bit much, and I can’t help but wonder if it might not be worthwhile to develop a dedicated first responder service for the myriad emergencies that simply don’t require big costly vehicles and elite emergency service personnel.

Firefighters fight fires, that’s what they’re trained to do. Thus, they should be available to respond to fires, not bike accidents.

Anyways, just another Saturday night in Montreal.

Don’t be a bystander…

To Hell with Rob Ford & Jeremy Searle

Credit to JFL42
Credit to JFL42

Last week I watched a cavalcade of federal and provincial politicians, in addition to various members of Rob Ford’s family, talk about the mayor’s ‘personal tragedy’. They all hoped he’d ‘go get some help’ and ‘treat his disease’.

I wanted to puke.

All these politicians telling me to feel sorry for this man-child and his egregious self-control issues, and all of them apparently completely oblivious to the simple fact that, even when he isn’t high as a kite, Rob Ford is a gigantic asshole.

Rob Ford is not Toronto’s problem. Rather, the nation has a problem with the politicians we elect into office. In the last decade we’ve witnessed countless examples of politicians behaving poorly if not overtly breaking the law. Some manage to withdraw from public life for a pre-determined period of time while others attempt to frame their illegal and often reprehensible behaviour in terms of an illness they suffer from.

The political class reminds us, nearly collectively, that nobody’s perfect and everyone deserves a second (or third, or fourth…) chance.

But my nation is not a kindergarten and politicians aren’t children learning valuable life lessons for the first time. The people cannot be expected to forgive and forget the crimes of the political class when the punishment for the people for the very same crimes are often so devastating.

Don’t believe me? Then try this: record yourself drunk or high and post that video to your facebook account. Try to drum up a conversation with the people you’re getting high with and use as many racial epithets you can think of. Try to ensure the video captures you using drug paraphernalia as well as the drug you’re consuming. In other words, make it exceptionally clear, even to the casual observer, exactly what you’re doing.

Then, after you’ve posted the video and tweeted it out to all your friends, start a stopwatch and record how long it takes it before you: lose your friends, lose your job and lose whatever respect you once had amongst your peers. If you’re not a member of the white majority, record how long it takes before you start losing some fundamental rights as well.

The fact of the matter is money and influence can purchase access to one legal system while the lack of both results in having another, far stricter legal system thrust upon you. Based on the national experience over the past decade or so, there are no morality crimes for the wealthy and powerful. A mayor filmed smoking crack cocaine and uttering hateful, racist phrases not only gets to keep his job but further is permitted to leave his job for as long as necessary as is required to ‘get help treating his addiction’. Promptly, Mayor Ford flew to Chicago where he attempted to gain entry to the United States.

We’re now told by his lawyer that he’s ‘100% in rehab’. Yeah, that convinces me.

Either way I don’t care whether Rob Ford gets treatment or not. He should be forced from office and further prevented from running in this year’s Toronto municipal election. His behaviour should prevent him from ever taking (or running) for office again, as he has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be wholly irresponsible, disruptive, combative and thoroughly duplicitous in his conduct.

In sum, the man’s a lying scumbag who I wouldn’t permit to mind my dog for an hour, let alone the largest city in all of Canada for several years on end.

Do not ask me to feel sorry for him. It is especially unfortunate that the political establishment in this country is towing the company line so to speak, protecting their own asses by appealing to the public to take pity on Rob Ford. If we can forgive him, the people will likely forgive our politicians for all manner of bad behaviour. Consider all we’ve already forgiven: constant lying, fraud, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, tampering with and destroying evidence, overt displays of homophobia and racism, beating the shit out of your wife. If you’re confused about precisely which politician I’m referring to you’ve made my point.

And let’s keep in mind, we still don’t know who put the call out to ice Anthony Smith. How soon before we’re asked to forgive murder as well, because some slovenly schmuck with friends in all the right places loves sucking the pipe?


Credit to CTV Montreal
Credit to CTV Montreal

We get a bad rap in this city because of corruption – more precisely, what appears to be provincially-mandated corruption in the construction industry. Montreal, from a development and infrastructure perspective, isn’t in charge of its own affairs, and so the opportunities for middlemen to insert themselves into the mix and collude to drive up costs, fix prices and commit other acts of fraud are many. Despite the Charbonneau Commission’s on-going public testimony and the SQ’s investigations and raids, many of the same firms involved in illegal activities are still permitted to bid on projects. The Commish lacks teeth and there’s no political will to make significant changes to the status quo. In effect, the change that would be required runs counter to neoliberal economic theory and it’s almost as though we’ve become programmed, as a society, to think this is our only option.

But that aside, for the last two years or so at least the appearance of house cleaning has been maintained. Unlike in Toronto, our disgraced former mayor Michael Applebaum has been charged with fraud and conspiracy and will stand trial for his crimes. I think this is significant; our society is trying to do something to change the climate of crime and corruption that has so characterized our local government for so long.

And thus we come to the case of Jeremy Searle, the city councillor for Loyola. He’s been asked by the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough mayor Russell Copeman to take a leave of absence to treat his ‘drinking problem’. I’m going to be far less charitable. Jeremy Searle is a drunk who shows up to work drunk and makes drunken statements of the following variety:

” …perhaps in 10 years time, they could eradicate the separatist movement like they hope to do with Emerald Ash Borer insects (that are currently ravaging city trees). Except that the Emerald Ash Borer does less damage than the separatists…”

Brilliant. A city counsellor calling for a group of people to be eradicated like bugs.

Mr. Searle alleged he’s only ‘saying what everyone is thinking’ and that he’s always been ‘an eccentric’.

I didn’t realize the vast majority of Montrealers were favourable towards notions of genocide and that eccentricity can be used to explain away hate speech. Replace separatist movement with socialists, Jews, Aboriginals, homosexuals – in every other case he would have been immediately dismissed and run out of town on the rails.

In a more recent interview, after he was asked to apologize for the aforementioned comment and after being asked to excuse himself to treat his alcoholism, Searle now suggests that he suffers from an illness and will proceed to treat it as his doctor has recommended. He then drew a parallel between alcoholism and cancer, stating that people wouldn’t be treating him so poorly if he had cancer and that ‘he suffers from alcohol abuse’.

It’s rare that the blood in my veins boils so. Are we to believe pederasts suffer from child-rape abuse? How dare he try to camouflage his inability to control himself with spectres of disease!

This why Jeremy Searle needs to be made into an example and dealt with swiftly. The City of Montreal must remove him from his office; he has no right to represent anyone in this city based on his comments alone. That he has also demonstrated an inability to control his drinking, and that he appears – regularly – to be inebriated is also reason enough to throw this bum out on his ass.

If we take action now and make an example of Mr. Searle, we can avoid ever having to deal with a cretin like Rob Ford in the future. There must be a zero-tolerance policy towards drug and alcohol abuse by our elected officials. It’s up to the individuals seeking office to get control of their lives before being elected, not while they’re in office.

A few things every Montrealer ought to know about Mirabel International Airport {Updated – May 2014}

Recent news is that the unelected government agency responsible for Montreal’s airports will seek to demolish the iconic main terminal of Mirabel International Airport, effectively shutting the door on ever using it again. The terminal has been abandoned, but maintained, since passenger flights ceased using the airport in 2004, and apparently this costs somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million annually.

I’m of the mind this is a colossal mistake and I’ve modified a previously published article to point out why. Enjoy.

1. We still need it.

Montréal is a major international tourism destination in addition to being a key port of entry for immigrants and refugees. Our city is growing as is interest in our city, this is undeniable. As we stimulate our development and continue on our path to becoming a truly global city, we will require an airport that can handle a steadily increasing number of passengers. Such an airport will grow, by necessity, to serve a steadily increasing population base and will stimulate industrial development around it.

I’m looking at this with a long-term perspective. Traffic congestion around Trudeau airport is bad as it is and without major changes to local transport infrastructure will only get worse. There’s no room to build additional runways or terminals and, because the airport is surrounded by residential housing, the airport has a curfew limiting its hours of operation. It’s more-or-less at capacity.

And at a certain point in our city’s future, the land the airport currently occupies will be more valuable as residential housing than as an airport. Demand for on-island residential property will increase with the cost of oil, and all the factors that once made Trudeau airport’s location ideal for air travel will, in the future, make it an ideal place to own a house.

Mirabel, by contrast, is located in a rural area with plenty of room to grow. Built away from the city, Mirabel can operate twenty-four hours a day and purpose-built infrastructure can be implemented so as to make access to the airport efficient and effective across the metropolitan region. Similar infrastructure redevelopment in Dorval is proving exceptionally difficult to implement.

When considering what to do with Mirabel, we should be thinking about our future needs.

2. It’s becoming more accessible.

The lack of access that lead to Mirabel’s demise is either currently being implemented, in use, or otherwise still on the drawing board.

Highway 50 from the National Capital Region (population 1.4 million) has been completed, and it intersects Highway 15 near Mirabel. There are many more international flights available from Montreal than from Ottawa and this is a market a resurrected Mirabel could have access to.

The AMT runs trains between Montréal and Mirabel, on a track which can access the Deux-Montagnes Line (and by extension Gare Centrale), in addition to the Parc Intermodal Station. The train station at the airport has already been completed. We’re closer to realizing high-speed rail access to the airport than we realize – the problem is that we’re focusing on the wrong airport. Completing Highway 50 so that it connects with Highway 40 near Repentigny will allow a northern bypass to mirror the now completed Highway 30 southern bypass of the Island of Montreal. And what better way to justify the construction of a new South Shore span than by simultaneously completing Highways 13 and 19? This way, the Montréal metropolitan region would be served by four East-West Highways intersected by a similar number of North-South Highways. A ring-road would be created, and Mirabel would finally be able to adequately serve the entire metropolitan region. And that’s just the highways. While the Fed claims high-speed rail is an expensive dream, the government of Ontario is pressing ahead with the development of a new high-speed rail system connecting Toronto with London.

I’m convinced this is precisely how high speed rail will be (re)introduced to Canada – the provinces will get the ball rolling on specific, tactical, routes which will ideally blossom into a federal system. So why not do the same here?

A bullet train running between Downtown Montreal and Mirabel could lead to the creation of a high speed rail link between Mirabel and Ottawa. A high speed train travelling at 320km/hour could run the distance between Ottawa and Mirabel in about thirty minutes. From Gare Centrale to Mirabel, the trip could be done in less than half that time.

Imagine a future Montreal in which international travel was as close to you as the nearest Métro station and didn’t require finding parking or calling a cab?

Imagine a future in which Mirabel didn’t just serve Metropolitan Montreal better, but the National Capital Region as well?

3. Competing with Pearson

Competition is economically healthy, so why not develop an airport that can compete with Toronto’s Pearson? Low jet-fuel prices and longer-range aircraft made stopping at Mirabel unnecessary in the 1980s and 1990s and gave rise to Pearson Int’l Airport in Toronto as chief Canadian gateway. Today, fuel prices are high and unstable. Mirabel is 600km (give or take) closer to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and a number of important cities on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. I think we could use some competition in terms of which city is the true eastern gateway to the country, and I’d honestly like to see what would happen if we pushed ahead with Mirabel to take business away from Pearson. It’s what capitalism is all about right? Better public transit access to strategically situated airports able to adapt to new technologies will define the gateways of tomorrow, and for this reason Mirabel is superior to Pearson in many respects. Let’s see what the free market has to say about it. Again, Pearson, though large, is nearing capacity and constrained from large-scale growth by what has already grown up beside it. And we can’t grow unless we have the infrastructure to allow for growth. So whereas the citizens of Toronto may one day have to plan an entirely new airport even further away from the city centre, all we have to do re-connect our airport to our metropolitan ‘circulatory system’. The advantage will soon be ours.

4. Mirabel wasn’t designed to fail – we let it fail.

Fixing it is still a possibility, but we need to act quickly so we can save what’s already been built. We don’t want to have to start from scratch at some point in the future because we lacked foresight today – that’s criminally negligent economic policy. We spent a lot of money in the past and haven’t seen a decent return on our investment. So, invest anew – but invest in fixing the problems already identified first and foremost. Whatever the initial cost, it cannot compare to the potential return a fully operational Mirabel would provide in terms of direct revenue and indirect economic stimulus. There are no mistakes, just innovative solutions. If we were really smart, we’d recognize that planned regional transit and transport projects can be brought together under a larger program to provide the access necessary to make Mirabel a viable solution to our airport problem. Ultimately, it’s all inter-related and could stimulate a multitude of key sectors of our local economy.

We were once a daring and imaginative people, we had bold ideas and planned on a grand scale. Somewhere along the way we became convinced we were no longer capable of performing at the same level, and settled into a holding pattern of socio-political malaise. Today we are restless, and we are daring to ask how we came to be, and where our former power came from. Of late, it seems that we’ve regained our swagger, our attitude. So let us push those in power to dream big once more, and push for the long-term, multi-generational city-building we were once so good at. We have it in our blood, but our pride is still damaged. Let us regain our spirit by turning our past failures into tomorrow’s successes.