Category Archives: Political commentary

Crime in the City { No.1 } – Dunie Ryan’s Revenge

All you see is, crime in the city...

With the recent assassination of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. according to Montréal’s Gazette, an ‘alleged’ Mafia boss, and our city’s retarded fascination with legitimizing (or romanticizing) organized crime, I thought I’d point out a rather infamous event from our dark past.

On November 25th 1984, a bomb was delivered in the form of a VCR to an apartment at the Le Maisonneuve apartment building, killing four and injuring eight. Those killed had themselves participated in the assassination of Frank “Dunie” Ryan twelve days earlier at a no-tell motel on Upper Lachine. Ryan, the reputed leader of the West End Gang, at the time one of the most important crime syndicates in the city. The blast was powerful enough to destroy most of the floor, though mercifully no civilians were killed, and the building didn’t collapse. Of note – the the time, a police station was located across the street at de Maisonneuve and St-Mathieu!

As Montréalers gathered to gawk outside Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense church in Little Italy, I wondered just how bad crime will have to get in this city before the citizens decide to react. The Biker War began to end when a twelve year old was killed by a car bomb, and admittedly, we have extremely low murder rates here in Montréal. But it wasn’t always this way, and the recent string of bombings and targeted assassinations should be considered as a potential harbinger of a larger gang war. But as long as idiots think of people like Rizzuto as akin to Marlon Brando in the Godfather, expect it to get worse. There’s a video posted to the CTV site in which Rob Laurie questions those outside the church as to what they thought – one individual referred to this guy as a ‘historical figure’, while others drew comparisons, endless comparisons to Marlon Brando. Makes me wonder if people are actually capable of discerning fact from fiction…

Where’s the pork? New bus shelter to cost 16k per unit!

Proposal for new bus-shelter design

Andy Riga of the Montréal Gazette reports on the STM’s new design for bus-shelters, part of the transit society’s new, and so far successful, branding and design campaign. However, each new bus stop, and the current figure is 400, will cost 14-16 thousand dollars per, with the total project costing somewhere in the area of 14 million. This project is supposed to be implemented by 2013, which means there must be a degree of modularity and/or production-line assembly if they’re to be installed so quickly. The last design cost 6-8 thousand per, though they were admittedly simpler. The new ones are to come complete with motion-sensor lighting, electronic display screens, anti-graffiti treatments and, perhaps best of all, sleek, modern design, worthy of our UNESCO City of Design status. There will be no heating installed, which makes me wonder how these bus stops are as expensive as a small car. Moreover, at prices like this, it makes me think perhaps the cost is inflated, an indication of our province and city’s never-ending problem with getting ripped off by unions, the construction industry, other levels of government, or any combination of the three.

Personally, I like the design, and the features of each stop, though for the price I would hope we’d be able to get more than 400 built. Now, if the 14 million dollar price-tag is paying for the project to be completed on-time – that is by 2013 – I’d have to grudgingly accept its probably worth it.

But that I’m suspicious of a potential inflated cost and, further, that part of the cost may simply be insurance that the project comes in on-time, reminds me that this city has a problem sustaining development. The list of stalled, delayed, and defunct projects in this city is long and growing, and it ultimately rests with the voting public to insist on self-correction. If not, the paralysis of inertia may swallow us whole.

On purely aesthetic grounds though, I have to say well-done. Not outstanding, but superior to what we currently have. Unfortunately, a bus-shelter is hardly an artistic statement, and I think the STM knows that despite the potential for an aesthetic justification of cost.

Dangerous hypocrites and their effect on architectural preservation

The Jeunes Patriotes du Québec, our very own brownshirts...

These happy looking fellows are the Jeunes Patriotes du Québec, a fascist organization dedicated to Québec independence, and apparently, saving old churches. The JPQ organized a protest over the weekend to demonstrate their belief that Québec’s religious heritage ought to be better preserved. Currently, the Archdioscese of Montréal wants to tear this 105 year-old Hochelaga-Maisonneuve church down and put up social housing on its spot.

The young patriots base their argument on the idea that our religious heritage is sacred, and that the church, for better or for worse I suppose, forms an indelible mark on the culture and personality of Québec. That the RC Church held the Québecois people under their thumb for over a century, abused countless children and kept our society in the long shadow of Norman provincialism seems lost on these thugs, who would like you to believe they are guerilas (again, its all just a guess, the rhetoric of their website is confused to say the least). Moreover, even though most of Québec society is secular – and has been better off for it – the JPQ wants you to believe that Québec sovereignty is somehow related to Vatican real-estate, and what they choose to do with it. As far as I see it, the JPQ is simply tail-hooking an issue for urban preservationists, and in the process turning a simple question about what to do with an old church into a clarion call to arms to protect Québec from … somehow, English people (?). If a broken, unused old church is torn down – perhaps even recycled – and replaced with social housing units, does that mean we’re lose something about our cultural identity as well?

So which is it – are we uniquely devout Catholics or independently secular Modernists? Or are we Enlightened hypocrites? Its tough, and I can’t come up with a simple answer. The complex one goes like this: I can’t escape the long-term psychological impact of living in a Catholic society – hopefully I can use it for good and it will colour my worldview in a unique and palpable way. Ergo, don’t tear down old churches, find new uses for them. But when common-sense sustainable urban planning gets mixed up with ultra-nationalist opportunism, the credibility of the preservation movement takes a hit. This is why casual association with this group, or any other form of extremism – even if it is only rhetoric – is anathema to the success of the broader goal of social-cohesion through good design and conservation.

But when these idiots show up, it gives the impression that we don’t know our history or culture from a hole in the ground.

Here’s a video they made of their marching band. Just because they look, sound, and act crazy doesn’t mean we should ignore them. And if Québec ever needs to become an independent nation, whoever’s in charge should make sure they’re dealt with first.

There’s little more dangerous than a self-proclaimed patriot with no idea what he’s supposed to be defending.

A rational society; the Hitch strikes again…

I love watching intelligent people destroy obnoxious blowhards with sound, precise, maddeningly effective logic, cutting like a hot knife through butter. The Hitch delivers in this one, calling Jerry Falwell exactly what he was: a dangerous demagogue.

How lucky to live in a society based, strongly, on Enlightenment principles. How precarious it is, as recent developments in the United States have demonstrated, to hold onto it.

A key issue to understanding Québec society and culture is the near-total control inflicted on it by the Catholic Church, roughly from the time immediately after the Patriotes Rebellion up until the late 1950s. And then, the , a period of profound social change, about as tumultuous and rapid as possible without degenerating into a prolonged riot, though the years were rough by local standards. Of considerable importance, the once dominant Church would lose its position in Québec society, and the state would go secular. This was the Quiet Revolution.

I cannot conceive of a city more Catholic and yet profoundly secular as Montréal. I have no idea how many people here identify with atheism, yet I’m acutely aware of a general consensus that religion has done considerably more harm than good throughout the last few thousand years. It seems that pretty much everyone I know, and meet, are probably thinking the same thing. Again, its part of the local cultural identity. We were oppressed for years, the abuse was rampant. Why do you think it was called ‘le grand noirceur’, the Great Darkness?

Seeing a man like Hitchens emasculate that Confederate worm and his faux-Irish Braheem mouthpiece gives me immense joy.

Anyone up to build a statue of him next to the cross on the mountain?

Revisiting a dark past

Soldiers stand guard in front of the Hotel-de-Ville de Montréal, October 1970

Forty years ago Montrealers were still reeling from the October Crisis, an unfortunate event in our city’s history. A terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) wrapped up a seven year bombing and armed-robbery spree with two kidnappings and a murder. The response was swift and exacting – partial martial law was declared in Montréal, Ottawa and Québec City, the operations of the Government of Québec were moved to a ‘bunker’ of sorts in downtown Montréal, and thousands of federal troops were deployed to guard important buildings, set up checkpoints, and assist the Montréal Police (SPVM) and the Sureté du Québec (SQ). The murder of Québec cabinet-minister Pierre Laporte would spell the end for the FLQ, as the military and security forces cracked down on the terrorist organization and its suspected sympathizers. Hundreds were arrested and detained for (on the most part) a few days. The right to freedom of assembly was never denied, even though thousands of FLQ sympathizers applauded the news that Laporte had been killed. Makes me think that those who were arrested probably had more than a fleeting sense of sympathy for the FLQ.

Regardless, on the 16th of October, the Québecois nationalist organization, the Societé-St-Jean-Baptiste (SSJB) unveiled a new monument dedicated to those who were temporarily imprisoned during the Crisis for alleged terrorist sympathies. None of these people were incarcerated for very long, they were not treated as typical prisoners, and certainly, none of them were tortured or abused in any real sense. While unfortunate, it was a necessary evil to wipe out our very own home-grown terrorist network. For a list of FLQ activities during the 1963-1970 period, check out this link and judge for yourself whether you think the actions of the federal and provincial governments were out of line.

Makes Tremblay look like Jesus Christ tap-dancing on a skateboard

Toronto Mayor-elect Rob Ford, with his mouth in customary 'open' position

With apologies to Prof. Roy Piperberg –

The enlightened citizens of Toronto have just elected Rob Ford their new Mayor. Mr. Ford attempted to do a pre-arranged interview with the CBC’s As It Happens, all the while coaching a football team. My guess is he was going for the folksy angle, but he came off instead as a bumbling fool with an utter contempt for what he probably views as elitist Toronto media.

Either way the people of Toronto now have a fool steering the city-ship for a few years; the questions are thus:

1- Has Toronto just been blown-over by a Tea-Bagger by any other name?

2- Are a lot of Torontonians wishing they had went out and voted?

3- Is Ford’s election the dark underside of the Megacity project, and is suburban Toronto really that different from Toronto’s urbanites?

I say yes to all three: a quick reminder to all our Toronto friends out there – rent’s cheap here, life is generally inexpensive, and you know you want to practice your french to meet a nice Québecois girl or guy – stop putting it off and move to Montréal already!