Category Archives: What were they thinking?

Hacked By Imam

Hacked By Imam with Love

Politically Motivated Memory

Victims of Communism monument original design conceptual rendering

Generally speaking I’m in favour of building monuments and creating new public spaces, particularly when said space reflects the nation’s history, culture and society. However, two projects with federal backing have been making the news lately and for good reason – there’s a lot of very public opposition to the final designs and, in both cases, the rationale behind the very purpose of these monuments has also been questioned. On top of it all, these projects seem to be politically motivated and specifically intended to appeal to Conservative voters.

The projects include Tribute to Liberty, a memorial to the victims of communism (the name alone is problematic, conflating a political ideology with the acts of tyrannical dictators. Communism is not inherently tyrannical, humans are, but I digress) and Mother Canada, centrepiece of the Never Forgotten National Memorial. The organizations formed to direct the projects are charitable organizations, though in the case of the former the Heritage Ministry is involved, and in the latter case the monument is to be ‘gifted’ to Parks Canada. In the case of the communism memorial, the land in question sits adjacent to the Supreme Court of Canada owned by the National Capital Commission, and was for a long time considered for development into a new government office building. Mother Canada is supposed to open her arms to the war dead up the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. So even though the organizations may be nominally independent registered charities, both projects require direct interaction with government agencies.

The Never Forgotten National Memorial is projected to cost $25 million and has recently lost some high-profile supporters.

Tribute to Liberty is estimated to cost $5.5 million, roughly $400,000 over budget and on land currently valued at $16 million.

Ostensibly the funds are to be raised by the charities tasked with developing these projects, but as it stands both groups seem to be far from their fundraising goals (this despite the fact that the NCC has begun soil-decontamination work at the communism memorial site).

Financial matters aside, there’s the question of why build these particular projects at all.

Tribute to Liberty was intended to occupy much of the prime real estate in question in downtown Ottawa, though the project has since been downsized (and may shrink even further), with several features of the original plan either proportionally shrunk or axed outright (such as the lighting and the downward-facing faceless victim of communism, centrepiece of the original design). It’s bad when monuments are imposed upon the urban landscape; it’s worse when the artistic vision is altered by committee.

The revisions seem to indicate the committee was paying attention, at least in part, to some of the most immediate criticisms of the project – namely that it was imposing, looming, inappropriately violent (etc).

Here’s a fantastic piece of propaganda that looks like it belongs in the introduction of some post Cold War scenario video game; it shows what the original monument was to look like. The folded section was to generate a an image when viewed from the top of the chevron-staircase arrangement, apparently one of a row of dead bodies in a forest. The image would be created by 100 million ‘memory cubes’ representing the 100 million people ‘killed by communism’.

The figure of 100 million killed by communism is meaningless and intended uniquely for shock value. Yes, communist, Marxist and Maoist states have all demonstrated authoritarian if not totalitarian and genocidal tendencies throughout the 20th century. So have a number of capitalist democratic states during the same period of time. Germany invaded and occupied much of Europe in the early 1940s specifically to defend ‘freedom, liberty and capitalism’ from ‘godless communism’. The United States kickstarted wars and supported dictatorships all over the world that killed off millions of people throughout the 20th century, either directly (such as in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) or indirectly (the first Persian Gulf War, the Bush Wars in Sub-Saharan Africa, civil wars throughout Central America in the 1970s and 1980s, etc.)

You could further make the argument that capitalism is just as destructive – just about everything there is to buy in capitalist, liberal democratic countries today is manufactured in impoverished nations all too often mismanaged by kleptocrats. The computer I’m using was made by people who work in near slave-like conditions, the factory dormitories they live in is lined with nets to catch workers if they attempt suicide. The clothing there is to buy is all too often sewn together by children. Where is the monument to those capitalism has killed and enslaved?

The project is entirely politically motivated to serve the interests of the Conservative party of Canada, obviously intended to secure support from the nation’s comparatively sizeable Ukrainian, Polish, German, Czech, Chinese and Vietnamese communities. If there is a desire to inform the public about the atrocities of the Cold War or otherwise honour all the Canadians who escaped persecution and totalitarianism abroad, fine, that has my support, but those stories can’t be summed up in a monument, especially not this one. Develop a new permanent exhibit at the war museum, create a graduate program at a university… anything but this.

Tribute to Liberty is anything but: it is ludicrously facile and demonstrative of a profound ignorance of the reality of contemporary geopolitics and recent history. Apt that it would have the backing of the Harperites…

The great irony of the Tribute to Liberty and Mother Canada monuments lies in their obvious similarities, in form and function, to the kinds of monuments erected by the very totalitarian dictators Canada ostensibly stands in opposition to. Both monuments are overbearing, cold, fundamentally unnecessary and intended to secure support for a particular political party. In the case of the former, it arguably attempts historical revisionism.

Mother Canada conceptual rendering

Mother Canada is intended to secure what I call the ‘military enthusiast’ vote – a subsection of the Tory support base that believes, despite mounting and damning evidence to the contrary, that the Tories are pro-military and all other parties are anti-military, and that Canada will only ever be safe under the watchful eye of a Conservative government. Supporters of the monument are chiefly former and current high-ranking officers in the Canadian Forces.

The monument is to be a 24-metre tall female form with arms outstretched, facing the Atlantic Ocean as though the welcome the souls of the dearly departed, all those killed in foreign wars, again, ostensibly in defence of liberty, freedom and the nation. As if we didn’t have enough goddamned cenotaphs in this country to the war dead, now a proposed allegorical representation of Canada is to stand with it’s back to the nation…

Supporters argue it will be a boon to Cape Breton tourism, but I can’t fathom many Canadians trekking out to Cape Breton just to look at the backside of a somewhat diminutive statue. Again, much like Tribute to Liberty, this monument serves no real purpose and provides no additional information or perspective. Parks Canada is reviewing 6,000 ‘comments’ (I have a feeling they’re mostly complaints) and there’s opposition to the project on ecological grounds, arguing the monument’s location in a national park is inappropriate and that the environmental impact of creating this tourist trap is being ignored outright.

Worse of all, it’s just so boring. Is this the very best we can come up with to represent the nation, or it’s war dead? There’s nothing inspired nor attractive about the monument. I’m all for a ‘Canadian Statue of Liberty’ but this isn’t it, this looks like the kinds of monuments erected all over Central Europe during the Cold War and subsequently destroyed during the Spring of Nations a quarter-century ago.

***

Combined, these projects require something like $30 million to complete, and the funds are to come principally from charitable donations secured through fundraising activities by the federally-backed charities organized to complete the projects.

This is not the best use of $30 million in charitable donations, nor the best use of federal support for fundraising initiatives. Imagine what good that money could do if used for other purposes.

$30 million could certainly help ensure fewer Canadian children go to bed hungry, could support numerous soup kitchens and homeless shelters, or used to send medicine and food to impoverished nations abroad. Are these not better examples of what Canada ultimately stands for?

On the STM’s Wasteful Renaming Policy

ICAO Headquarters, Montreal - credit to Provencher Roy
ICAO Headquarters, Montreal – credit to Provencher Roy

Recent news is that the STM will temporarily lift its self-imposed moratorium on renaming Métro stations so that Square-Victoria can be re-christened “Square-Victoria-OACI”.

The rationale is that it will help convince the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO or OACI in French) to continue operating from our fair city, this after an audacious attempt by the Qatari government to convince the UN body to move its operations to the Persian Gulf state last year.

We need to keep in mind that Qatar withdrew its bid after a roughly week-long (and uncharacteristic) lobbying blitz orchestrated by the Federal Tories (with considerable cooperation from the then separatist government of Quebec) that ultimately resulted in a near unanimous decision by ICAO’s member nations to refuse the unsolicited Qatari proposal outright.

Kudos on a job well done. It just goes to show that with the right motivation even the most diametrically opposed governments can cooperate fully to achieve a common goal. It’s clear to everyone concerned ICAO is better off staying in Montreal where it provides about 500 ‘big league’ jobs to our city’s knowledge economy, not to mention an immeasurable amount of global clout. That ICAO is located in Montreal says something about our city. In my eyes, it says we’re a safe bet, a solid investment, the kind of city where the world comes together.

Based on the response to Qatar’s push, I’d argue the world knows and appreciates this as well. Quite frankly I’d be astonished if the international community permitted ICAO to be moved to an absolute monarchy where dissent is punishable by life sentences and where hundreds of thousands of South Asian migrants are worked to death building sports stadiums in de facto slavery.

Say what you will about the quality of our construction industry here in Montreal, at least we don’t use slave labour.

In any event, the point is this: the Qataris have a long way to go before they can make a serious bid, so why is the STM going to the trouble of re-naming Square-Victoria Métro station at all?

Is ICAO looking to move? Do they really need to be convinced to stay?

If ICAO were actually seriously considering moving from Montreal, are we to believe all it would take to get them to change their minds is renaming a Métro station (by making it longer and more cumbersome)? Give me a break.

Despite this, the STM is going forward with their plan to rename the station – with zero public input. Total cost: $125,000

According to the STM the cost pays for printing new Métro maps, new signage at the station as well as new audio recordings of the station’s name. I can imagine the overwhelming bulk of the sum is in fact going towards printing.

I think this is supremely wasteful. It’s unnecessary and it won’t accomplish anything concrete. Worse, the public wasn’t consulted – this is a unilateral decision of the STM – and, as if this wasn’t bad enough, the STM’s renaming policy is still in effect for all other Métro stations, despite public interest in getting other stations renamed.

It wouldn’t be quite as bad if the STM were to instead select a certain number of stations and solicit the public for suggestions on how they should be renamed. In doing so, not only would they have directly engaged with their clientele, but they would ultimately get a greater value for the money they’ve allocated to new printing.

Keep this in mind – the printing costs will remain about the same even if a dozen stations were to be renamed.

So with that in mind let me put it to you – what stations would you rename?

There are two proposals that come to mind already. First, there’s been pressure from Jewish and Black communities for several years to rename Lionel-Groulx. The reason is that, despite the Abbé Groulx’s contributions to writing the nationalist interpretation of French Canadian history, he was also a ell-known anti-Semite who founded a local fascist organization. As you might expect this doesn’t sit well with many people. Oscar Peterson, the ‘Maharaja of the keyboard’ who helped solidify this city’s position as a focal point for jazz music, is often mentioned as a preferred name choice, given Peterson’s legacy and his attachment to the area the station is located in.

Also, if I recall correctly, the Gay Village merchant’s association has proposed changing Beaudry station’s name to ‘Beaudry-Le-Village’. I’d prefer it simply be renamed Le Village.

I’d also like most of the religious station names, like Assomption or Pie-IX to be renamed, and I’m not too keen on First World War French generals (De Castelnau) or battle sites (Namur, Verdun) either.

Anyways – let me know what you think; which stations would you rename and why?

Voter Suppression in 2014 Quebec Election

Something tells me we won't be seeing major protests against voter suppression...
Something tells me we won’t be seeing major protests against voter suppression…

Hundreds of people have been turned away from voter registration centres in the Montreal region, notably in the Westmount-St-Louis and Saint-Marie-Saint-Jacques ridings, because they ‘lack the intent’ to stay, live and work in Quebec.

Nearly all of these people have something in common. They are students who were not born here.

The story broke two days ago when Dune Desormeaux (yes, you read that right, his last name is Desormeaux, as in Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, hero of the colonists of Ville-Marie) and another McGill student, Angela Larose (yeah – you can’t make this up) were both denied the right to register to vote because a reporting officer indicated they lacked the ‘intent’ to stay in Quebec and could not be considered domiciled here.

The basic minimum requirement to vote in Quebec provincial elections is very straightforward.

You must be of majority age, a Canadian citizen and have been domiciled in the province for at least six months. You also can’t be in provincial custodianship or a criminal in order to exercise your democratic right.

The reason so many were refused the right to vote comes down to the interpretation of the word ‘domicile’. According to the students interviewed over the last two days almost all of them indicated reporting officers took issue with the fact that they didn’t have Quebec medicare cards to prove their identities. When they indicated the reason was because they’re students and therefore can’t apply for medicare cards they were told the *clearly* lack the intent to stay in Quebec and thus cannot be considered as domiciled in Quebec.

It is a ruthlessly rigid interpretation of the law that is so extreme it begs the question – why are frontline elections officers judging people’s intent in the first place?

And is it really fair to question university students about their long-term plans?

And wouldn’t a more open interpretation of the intent rule subsequently result in more people voting and more people feeling attached and integrated into Quebec society?

Would you want to stay in a place that wouldn’t allow you the right to vote, despite the fact that you have all reasonable proof of that right?

Arielle Vaniderstine is a first-year McGill University student who was one of at least three I can verify who were told they can’t vote because their lack of a medicare card ‘proved’ their lack of intent to stay in Quebec. She had initially been told her registration was cleared but this decision was reversed the following day. She’s been living in Montreal since last June, is over the age of majority and a Canadian citizen. She proved her identity and address with the following documents: a passport, a birth certificate and a Hydro-Québec bill from last summer.

When I spoke with her yesterday she was troubled by the decision and her lack of recourse. She told me her first paying job was in Quebec and that she’s filing Quebec tax documents. She came here from Prince Edward Island because she wanted to experience Montreal and Quebec and develop her French language skills. She told me specifically that she wants to vote because it’s part of her intent to integrate into Quebec society and that our politics inspired her to exercise the only real political power any of us really have – our sole vote.

Unfortunately for Ms. Vaniderstine and the apparently hundreds of others turned away from registration centres in downtown Montreal the decisions of the reporting officers are final.

Worse still, after speaking with Elections Quebec spokesperson Denis Dion, it seems that there’s an almost ‘church and state’ like separation between the reporting officers and the elections board. Monsieur Dion told me the only real recourse is to take the matter up with the courts.

As you might imagine it’s unlikely this will happen. Students aren’t exactly rolling in the dough, so to speak, and they can’t possibly be expected to have the kind of scratch necessary to pursue this through the court system. A freshman could very well have graduated by the time the courts get around to hearing the case. Again, this really doesn’t encourage anyone to stay and fight for their rights.
It’s 2014 and people who have every right to vote in Quebec elections are being told they can’t.

Considering we still have segregated schools and rampant Islamophobia in our province, this should come as no surprise.

***

Now here’s where things get really shitty.

We live in a province where at least one political ideology is given carte-blanche on insane conspiracy theories.

Such as:

‘The FLQ was an RCMP false-flag operation to discredit the separatist movement’

‘The 1995 Quebec Referendum was stolen by federalists’

‘Official bilingualism is cultural genocide’

And according to the now resigned head of the Saint-Marie-Saint-Jacques (SMSJ herein) electoral reporting office in downtown Montreal, “it’s as if Trudeau airport were wide open and someone was passing out visas without asking any questions”. Mathieu Vandal resigned from his post Friday, saying he couldn’t cope with the abnormal influx of Anglophone and Allophone voters looking to register.

This is the kind of person put in charge of registering citizens to exercise their fundamental democratic rights.

And if that doesn’t make you cringe I don’t know what will.

Today’s news is that Pauline Marois is concerned about ‘electoral fraud’ in the adjoining ridings of SMSJ and Westmount-Saint-Louis and has indicated she’d like Elections Quebec to investigate. To be precise, the fraud she wants investigated isn’t voters being defrauded from their democratic right to vote. She wants an investigation into why so many Anglophone and Allophone voters have suddenly shown up to register in these ridings, insinuating she believes Mathieu Vandals’ initial, ignorant assertions.

The fact of the matter is that these ridings happen to have a lot of students and immigrants – two groups of people historically disenfranchised from local and provincial politics – who suddenly have every reason to vote against the proposed Charter of Values.

For these people, the charter represents everything wrong with this province, and all that we’re not. These people came here for a reason – because we are open, tolerant, cosmopolitan – and now a charter to institutionalize racism threatens all that is fundamentally good about this province.

It’s the kind of political issue so important it actually encourages people to get involved in politics. It should be very clear to everyone with the least political common sense in this province that the apparent increase in voter registration is not because of some vast federalist conspiracy to stick it to Pauline Marois.

Pauline Marois has brought this upon herself.

It demonstrates what kind of fantasy land the PQ and other separatists live in. They either don’t want to recognize our changing demographics or turn the tide by actually making it unnecessarily difficult for people to become Québécois. The charter and voter suppression are ways to make it uncomfortable for young people and immigrants sold on an ideal of liberalism and social democracy in Quebec. For Ms. Marois to take allegations of voter fraud seriously, it demonstrates she is no better than the kinds of delusional ultra nationalists that make up her voting base.

And by the way, who else is so pre-occupied with apparent (though in reality non-existent) voter fraud?

Tories. The Tories are so worried about voter fraud they’ve proposed the Fair Elections Act, an Orwellian document condemned for its overt anti-democratic tendencies by international experts.

Exactly the kinds of people both separatists and Tories have absolutely no interest in.

I’ll be following this story closely. More to come I’m sure.

Gong Show

We all need to take a major chill pill.

After this past week, not only would I say any kind of a referendum on whether or not Québec seeks constitutional negotiations is out of the question, I’m also highly doubtful the PQ will even manage to form a minority government. Separation is nothing more than all it has been for over a decade – talk.

It’s all just a lot of noise.

The latest polls indicate anywhere between 50 and 50 per cent of Québécois (note: and by that I mean all of us, regardless of culture, race, language etc.) would vote against a referendum pursuant to constitutional negotiations seeking greater sovereignty for the province of Québec.

We need to stop worrying about Québec independence because it’s simply not in the cards. The referendum is about whether we start negotiations – there isn’t even a guarantee the other provinces or the fed would come to the table.

Based on the outcome of this election a referendum question might be off the table for as long as the next four years (assuming, somehow, Couillard manages a majority, sticks to his federalist inclinations and a Montrealer becomes Prime Minister next fall – it’s unlikely but within the realm of possibility. Think of what that might mean for our city, with francophone federalists at the three key levels of power).

All Couillard needs to do is continue talking about the economy and what brings Québécois together, and simply not get trapped by the constitutional trap set by the Parti Québécois. If he does this and continues at the pace he’s on, he might just push the Québec Liberals from their current 37% into more comfortable territory.

Much like the now infamous Pineault-Caron family shown above, all the Quebec Liberals need to do is simply let the PQ continue talking, and they’ll reveal themselves for who they are: fundamentally, inherently racist and appealing to a myopic minority of citizens who would literally step over their own mothers to achieve this twisted vision of national self-determination.

By all means, let’s give the PQ all the air time, because they’ve turned our politics into a veritable gong show and spent much of last week embarrassing themselves. Plus que ça change… Last week was one of the few in which Québec politics was legitimately enjoyable, in my opinion. Once it became glaringly apparent the Parti Québécois has a hard enough time running an election, let alone a country, the humour of our absurd situation came to the forefront.

This guy, Jean Carrière, wants to fuck Islam.
This guy, Jean Carrière, wants to fuck Islam.

In the last week we’ve witnessed a PQ candidate get unceremoniously ejected from the party for Islamophobic (and just plain dumb) posts on his facebook page. Jean Carrière was forced out and rightfully so, but it makes you wonder about the PQ candidate vetting process. This is politics 101 – nothing offensive on your most public medium.

You’d think a guy with a head this big would know the really obvious stuff.

And then a PQ candidate came out and compared the ritual of baptism and the medical practice of circumcision to rape.

Yeah, you read that right.

Gouin-riding candidate Louise Mailloux was also busted for – get this – propagating a well-known conspiracy theory originated by the KKK that Rabbis collect a tax from goods certified as Kosher and then use those funds to support the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

Louise Mailloux holding up a photocopied image of sheiks to prove a point about something...
Louise Mailloux holding up a photocopied image of sheiks to prove a point about something…

Worse, Ms. Mailloux has issued an apology, for hurting people’s feelings.

She has not withdrawn her statements concerning baptism or circumcision. Most importantly, she says that she ‘stands by’ her belief in the well-known anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

And in turn, Pauline Marois stands by Ms. Mailloux.

Perhaps if any of these women had Jewish friends or acquaintances they might not be so public with their anti-Semitism.

It’s truly disheartening that some people in this province clearly aren’t concerned with multiple and very public displays of racism by a party ostensibly designed to protect a minority group from the apparently unrelenting assault of cultural assimilation.

If I could issue edicts I would demand our politics were racism free and didn’t involve propagating ideas dreamt up by hillbilly klansmen, but I suppose Ms. Mailloux feels some kind of kinship for the ‘oppressed whites’ of the American South…

And who can forget the spray-paint attack on Bernard Drainville’s PQ riding office in Longueuil?

graffiti-drainville-longueuil

Just a quick aside, Drainville’s office was tagged with the message above and swastikas were drawn over Pauline Marois’ face.

It immediately made me think of that time Morton Downey Jr. claimed he had been attacked by skinheads in a washroom at the San Francisco airport. The attack story was ultimately discovered to be a publicity stunt – the swastikas were drawn backwards, as if you were drawing them with a mirror…

In this case it’s the spelling that’s off. English speakers with an interest in protecting Judaism and Quebec politics likely would not have written “dont” in lieu of the far more common (and correct) spelling of “don’t”. Also, another word for yarmulke is kippah – with an ‘h’.

As much as some people would love a race war, I have a feeling this might actually be the work of an over-zealous PQ envelope-licker inspired by the likes of Pierre Poutine.

But I saved the best for last. The grand prix of political cognitive dissonance and selling out your base goes to the Parti Québécois by signing the reigning king of yellow journalism and Ford Brother enablement, the doyen of Québec Inc, Monsieur Pierre-Karl Péladeau.

The well-known union-buster.

Brian Mulroney’s prodigal son.

The man who owns Quebecor, Videotron, Sun News Network and the Sun Newspaper Corporation, arguably the single greatest sources of hysterical Francophobia, Anglophobia and general Islamophobia (not to mention piss poor journalism) in the entire country, is running with the party that once branded itself as a working class social grassroots movement to protect and preserve French Canadian culture from the perceived threat of Anglo-American monoculture.

A man who peddles in filth, a pimp of exploitation, a carnival barker – this is who the Parti Québécois has chosen as their economic guru. This is the man whom the PQ expects us to trust with the construction of a ‘national economy’.

So am I worried about Quebec becoming an independent country?

No.

The repercussions to the PKP announcement were swift. The major provincial unions, already siding up against the proposed secularism charter, have now indicated they won’t be supporting the PQ at all, marking a historic break between the Parti Quebecois and its traditional voter base.

What politicians consistently fail to realize – and this really is a national phenomenon – is that you can only be overtly contradictory, hypocritical, full of shit (however you want to say it) up to a certain point before people get fed up and reject a party en masse. Consider the Tories in 1993. Nine years of Mulroney’s bullshit and Canadians *destroyed* the political entity known as the Progressive Conservatives. What little remained quickly succumbed to the influence of the Reform Party, giving us the unholy amalgam of perverted Western ‘nationalism’, the oil lobby and social conservatives who hate gays and love war. Consider the Liberals under Ignatieff.

In Quebec, think Duplessis.

Reconstruction & Obstructionism – the Case for Greater Autonomy

Ville-Marie Expressway Overhead

Early one morning late last week Mayor Coderre announced that a portion of the Ville-Marie Expressway will be covered over in time for the city’s 375th anniversary and by the end of the day the idea was shot down in a terse email written by the transport minister’s press attaché.

Poof!

There it goes.

In the blink of an eye a reasonable, straightforward civil engineering and city beautification project gets shot to shit by a man who neither lives nor works here in our city.

And it serves to illustrate a point about Montreal; we’re not actually in control of much in terms of how our city is built, developed, renovated, designed etc.

Montreal can’t build a park over a highway used almost exclusively by Montrealers.

We don’t have the jurisdiction to plan and expand the Métro.

If an adjacent community, such as Montréal Est or Montreal West, wanted to join the city of Montreal, we couldn’t arrange it amongst ourselves – we actually don’t have the authority.

Same story schools and hospitals; the city can’t do anything to help the fact that the CSDM has to immediately close 82 schools due to contamination. The school board deals with the province on such matters. And the city can’t be expected to do anything about our hospitals – which remain open, which will be closed, who the buildings are sold to and how they’re repurposed. Nada. The city of Montreal has no say in any of it.

Our municipal politicians, of all stripes, suffer the consequences. All too often they are blamed directly for all the problems we have on these and other fronts. Because local politicians – those closest to the people – are impotent to effect any lasting change to the operational status quo, they become disinterested at best and corrupt at worst.

And the people, realizing that which is supposed to be the most accessible level of government is in fact nothing more than a hindrance to the political process, disengage from said process.

Disenfranchisement via political impotence.

At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter who you happen to be aligned with because this city is political poison to both the current provincial and federal governments. They know they can’t win here so they sew the seeds of discord in an attempt to divide and conquer the people of this city. We have no ‘pull’ for the moment, and given the Duplessis-like tactics of both levels of government we’re going to continue being pushed around, with development dictated to us.

Unless of course we do something about it.

Let’s get back to the details that spurred this article, for a moment.

The mayor proposed a scaled-back version of a Projet Montréal plan to recover the 500 metre open trench running from the Palais des Congrès to the new CHUM superhospital, between Viger and St-Antoine.

What Coderre is proposing is more modest in scope, focusing on ‘segment 1’ as illustrated above. The covered section would be turned into a large open space. Projet Montréal even proposed naming the space after noted Québec visual artist Marcelle Ferron, who designed the stained glass windows at Champ-de-Mars station.

Best of all Mayor Coderre has put Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron in the driver’s seat. Bergeron is in fact going to delay his retirement to oversee the project.

I think this is where things began getting interesting.

The campaign wasn’t that long ago and these two men could not have been more different in their approach. They were rivals in the truest sense of the word and represented vastly different interests. And yet, after a bit of time, they seem to have come to see eye-to-eye on this specific project. Coderre recognizes Bergeron’s obvious talents and clearly respects at least one aspect of the Projet Montréal platform.

Cover a highway, build a park. What could possibly go wrong? Two political rivals cooperating to build something bigger and better than themselves.

So when the transport minister told his press handler to fire off an email to shoot down a fundamentally good idea (and I mean good for our local democracy, environment, urban quality-of-life good) I can’t help but imagine it was done to remind the mayor of his place, of the limits of his political authority. Maybe there was more to it than that.

I believe that a Quebec run by the Parti Québécois is one which is fundamentally set in opposition to the wants, interests and needs of Montreal and the people of the greater region. The PQ is looking to win a provincial majority government by ruthlessly exploiting the politics of division, ignorance, fear and intimidation. They are hoping the politics that put Rob Ford and Stephen Harper in power would work just as well here in Quebec and I believe it was a wise gamble.

We’re Canadian after all… clearly the politics of fear work here just as well as anywhere else.

Unfortunately for the people who live here and drive on our roads, anything and everything to do with the biggest and most important ones are all conveniently outside our jurisdiction.

Keep this in mind as traffic grinds to a halt with the redesign of the Turcot Interchange. It’s a provincial area of jurisdiction. Even if we had a better idea, we can doing about it. Those aren’t city streets.

Our highways and our bridges aren’t actually ‘our own’. You’d think a city of nearly two million people could take care of such things by itself – and indeed we once did.

But over time we have had responsibilities taken away from us, and when you lose those your rights aren’t far behind.

It’s not just that the city of Montreal lacks responsibility in key areas, it’s that we don’t have the right to be involved, by provincial decree.

It wasn’t always the case, we were once a little more autonomous, though only because certain political and social circles happened to once interact here.

Our fall from our former glory as a metropolis is not a language issue or a culture issue, it’s mostly a taxation and efficiency issue.

We were once in charge of our fate and now legislation exists that cripples our city’s ability to perform and succeed. Our failures are quite simply not our own – they are imposed. The people of the city of Montreal – the citizens of Montreal – must have control over all key areas of municipal governance and expected public services. We can manage our own house. We must become masters of our own domain.

The future political divide in this province is not between languages or culture or where you were born. It is between Montreal, as it is and for its own sake, in opposition to a Quebec that feels it must define its culture through legislation. Montreal would simply prefer to be left alone, we are not interested in having our culture, our identity, screwed around with.

The Parti Québécois has made it abundantly clear, Montréal is increasingly a distinct society from the hegemonic cultural identity espoused by the PQ.

When the mayor of Montreal can’t even build a park, with his chief rival fully cooperating no less, the citizens must realize that we lack local political sovereignty in our own affairs.

And this is something that must change, forever.

We can no longer afford to run a city with our hands tied behind our backs.