Tag Archives: News

The Agence métropolitaine de transport to be abolished

AMT Commuter Rail Logo

When you want news to get buried over the weekend, you deliver it on Friday afternoons.

The Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) will be abolished as of Monday. The provincial government agency is currently responsible for all transit planning in Greater Montreal, as well as the the inter-city commuter rail network.

The Couillard government will make the announcement on Monday (okay, so maybe they’re not really trying to bury the story, still, odd time to issue a press release teasing such a major change…)

Apparently the AMT is to be replaced by two new organizations: the Réseau des transports métropolitain (RTM) and the Agence régionale de transport (ART).

The new RTM will be responsible for running the commuter rail system and apparently all public transit agencies except the STM, STL and RTL (the latter two STM equivalents in Laval and Longueuil respectively).

Of note, the other organization (ART) will be the regional transit planning body, and will be run by the ‘elected officials of Montreal and government experts’.

It’s not clear whether that means city proper or agglomeration council, though I believe it’s the latter case.

It’ll be interesting to find out what precisely this all means on Monday, though perhaps we have reason to be optimistic. Local transit needs to be planned locally, though the maintenance of three independent transit agencies (in the form of the STM, STL and RTL) within this new plan is still problematic. The cost to ride the Métro should be standard regardless of where you get on. Similarly, the bus network should have a single common fare at least for Montreal, Laval and Longueuil.

That said, I wonder whether the new regional transit planning authority will continue to push the Blue Line’s eastern extension, or whether it will prioritize developing a tram system.

A lot more to come on this file I imagine. Stay tuned!

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

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If you’ve been following the news of late, you may be asking yourself just how the PQ got elected back in September. I honestly don’t know with certainty why, but I’m fairly convinced the PQ’s victory is a direct consequence with popular displeasure with the PLQ under Jean Charest. The printemps érable didn’t help Charest either, as police brutality by the SPVM was viewed by the public at large as an extension of a dictatorial and aggressive state. Moreover, sticking his neck out and forming UPAC and the Charbonneau Commission, while ostensibly the right thing to do (and I should point out, Charest is not implicated in the slightest), was political suicide because, frankly, people are so goddamned stupid these days they equate the person calling for an investigation with the person complicit in the crime.

Unless I missed something, Charest hasn’t been implicated, indicted, or in any way involved in the on-going corruption scandals plaguing Montreal’s construction industry, yet was popularly believed to be exceptionally corrupt.

Curious that.

And now, not quite six months after Charest was unceremoniously booted from office by the slimmest of margins, the PQ under Premier Marois isn’t doing much of a better job. In fact I’d argue it’s doing a worse job.

But what’s truly amazing is just how well the PQ is destroying its own credibility. Or at least it seems rather impressive to me.

What preoccupies me is whether the PQ will undermine itself quick enough to provoke a strong public reaction against them, or whether they’ll so masterfully weave bullshit into a cohesive nation-building myth they actually manage to secure enough interest to actually call a referendum on Québec sovereignty (which as you might imagine, could mean just about whatever the fuck you want it to – every single Canadian citizen is 100% sovereign – our Constitution and Charter clearly define our rights and responsibilities, a proper social contract; without handing you bags of money I can’t imagine how much more the PQ plans on making you, me, or any of us for that matter).

So all that said, let’s take a quick gander at how the PQ is undermining itself. If nothing else, hopefully a series of outright idiotic incidents will make the collapse of the separatist movement in Québec a comic affair we’ll all share in laughing about later on.

Oh, and for the record, I’m exceptionally proud of the socially-progressive identity that has been crafted in Québec, particularly over the last fifty years. I believe the elusive Canadian identity can at least in part be found in the culture and society of my home province, whether the SSJB and PQ like it or not.

I’m also seriously thinking about joining both these organizations. The SSJB was once far more ‘federalist’ in political orientation (or at least Canadien Supremacist, if I may coin such a term).

Without further delay…

Step 1: Keep beating a dead horse. Even though support for Québec independence is low and the PQ has a minority government by the slimmest of margins, Premier Marois insists that “just as soon as we have the winning conditions” a referendum (presumably on the future of constitutional relations in Canada, but really, who the fuck knows) will be called and (apparently) Québecois will unanimously support the move for an independent Québec. The more she pushes the illusion of the necessity of Québec independence, the more she defines herself as a one-trick poney, something most Québecois may not approve of – after all, assuming she ever got her way, she hasn’t demonstrated she could lead an independent nation. This is largely because of…

Step 2: Alienating your support base. Such as the once-cohesive student protest movement that actually forced last fall’s election. Cutting $124 million from the post-secondary education budget while also not finding a viable solution to post-secondary education costs to the student is indeed a terrible situation, far worse given that it seemed the Charest administration brought in the tuition hike specifically to avoid the cuts. And what’s really puzzling here is that one would assume a liberal, if not to say progressive political party like the PQ would be in favour of more Keynesian economic theories, including managed deficit spending, as a necessary evil so as to maintain open access to high-quality universities. But no, not only are there cuts, now it seems as though there isn’t even a guarantee of possible future re-investment in education. If there’s anything a society should go into debt for, it’s without question the education of the next generations.

Which brings us back to alienating the base – it doesn’t help Marois much when Parizeau gets on her case for poor economic judgement. Remember, Parizeau is the economist who was supposed to have all the answers to the numerous questions about how Québec’s economy would work if we were independent. For the over 40 crowd, he may be seen as more ‘with it’ than the current administration, which is kind of all over the map. This can be illustrated by…

Step 3: Public demonstrations of disinterest, disengagement or flat-out pandering. Too much to list here, but I’m suspicious when cabinet ministers suddenly find money – $46 million to be precise – despite announced cuts and active cuts in related sectors, in this case education and healthcare.

Then there are the overt displays the PQ quite simply isn’t serious about governing. There’s no excuse for sleeping through Question Period. If you’re too sauced to pay attention, don’t bother showing up, but let’s be real, if you can’t manage to stay awake during what typically amounts to be a combative, argumentative session of political theatrics, you might not be cut out for the job. If Daniel Breton has trouble sleeping (as I and countless hundreds of thousands of other Canadians do), then he should see a doctor, take sleeping pills at night and coffee during the day.

There’s really no excuse for ‘being confused’ about simple government procedure and knowing how you want to vote on a given issue, yet somehow the PQ managed to vote against its own interests and support the opposition party’s motion which heavily criticized the PQ’s planned mega cuts to education. Being on the verge of tears in front of the TV cameras didn’t boost my confidence in our elected officials much either.

And then of course there was the ill-conceived trip to Scotland and, worse still, the failure to adequately prepare to be interviewed by the British Press. As you might expect, what Ms. Marois wanted to say and what was not the same thing, and though some logical or rhetorical incongruities may happen from time to time when discussing or debating large complex issues, the simple fact remains that Ms. Marois did not explain herself properly in either language – and if she had chosen to answer in French, for clarity’s sake, I’m certain the BBC could scare up a translator. Or perhaps Ms. Marois is so caught up in PQ rhetoric she actually believes Anglophones are insulted by French.

Qu̩bec independence is a joke Рis it any wonder Alex Salmond tried to keep his distance, and opted for closed door meetings?

She’d be wise to watch out for strange bedfellows. Though the Scotland trip was poorly received and French Socialist President (and Malian saviour) François Hollande has already stated he doesn’t want to get involved, there are plenty of rightwing and far-right nationalist parties throughout Europe who share, at least on paper, a desire for greater independence for their ‘oppressed and marginalized peoples’. In Flanders, a right-wing party that seeks to break up Belgium once and for all. Elsewhere in Europe, nationalism has far more sinister tones and implications.

I suppose I’ve made some kind of a point, but I need to end on this:

How much is this actually costing us? Not just in terms of tax revenue wasted pursuing this pie-in-the-sky ‘goal’, but in terms of lost morale, population decline (whether as a result of putting off starting a family because of politics or losing your progeny to an unstable and stifling socio-political climate), diminishing investor confidence?

We’ve been dealing with this go-nowhere issue for more than 30 years (it’s been at least that long since anything of consequence actually happened, and there I would point to repatriation of the Constitution, the Federalist victory in 1980, Bill 101 and the dual Charters of rights, liberties etc as the major successes to come out of that era. We’ve ben waiting for the other shoe to drop for a long time.

And it’s gotten us nothing and brought us nowhere. Contemporary PQ politicians don’t even bother laying out a plan, presenting their transition procedure, or even philosophize about how we’d carve out our academic and intellectual sovereignty in a world that’s getting smaller with every great technological leap forward.

To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, we’re driving towards the future, but our leaders (if you can call them that) keep their gaze uniquely focused on the rear-view mirror.

Do we let this go in the name of political correctness, or as a result of catastrophic laziness, until we don’t recognize you we are nor what we’ve made of ourselves?

Does a nation have to grow up?