Monthly Archives: May 2007

Best of Montreal: Not me

The Mirror’s perennial popularity contest Best of Montreal, in which all the local blogs whore themselves out to their readers for votes, has been released. Among the highlights:

  • Love her or hate her, Celine Dion is still popular. She made the lists for Montrealer closest to sainthood, Montrealer closest to hell, most desirable woman (#1! WTF?) and tackiest personality.
  • Gerald Tremblay beat out both Karla Homolka and Kimveer Gill in the most-hated list. Ouch.
  • William Shatner proves that you can be old, fat and badly act out the part of an idiot on TV but still be one of the most desirable men in your hometown.
  • Samer Elatrash, once one of Montreal’s loudest activists, has disappeared from that list now that he’s a writer for the Mirror.
  • Tarah Schwartz’s name is misspelled, despite coming in fourth in “best local newscaster” among a sea of CFCF names.
  • Geeta Nadkarni, that girl doing the weather on CBC with the infectious Indian accent, has rocketed to the top of the TV personality list on her first attempt. The Mirror has a profile (bottom of the page).
  • Dollard is the 15th best neighbourhood. Go West Island! Sadly, Pierrefonds is nowhere to be seen. Neither is “the bus terminus at Fairview”.
  • The Mirror doesn’t realize that Comedy Works and “the place above Jimbo’s” are the same thing. I don’t blame them though, the lack of comedy places in this city means the category needs to be inflated to reach 10.
  • Zeke’s Gallery got best gallery but nowhere on the best blog list by sending out an entire list of suggestions for votes (to discourage ballot-stuffing, the Mirror required people to fill out a minimum number of categories).
  • The Mirror won best newspaper (duh). The Gazette came in second. The Link, once again, is the only student newspaper on the list.
  • Drunken Stepfather won for best blog. Yeah, I’d never heard of it either. And it has nothing to do with the city. But hey, if you’re up for pictures of celebrities scratching their asses, I guess it’s ok. Midnight Poutine deservedly came in second, followed by Montreal City Weblog. The rest seems to be filled with ballot stuffers, though it’s nice to see newcomer MTL Street on there as well.
  • Fagstein is nowhere to be seen, when clearly I would have fit into everything from best blog to most desirable man. Someone miscounted somewhere.
  • “Stealing your neighbour’s wireless” was disqualified as Best ISP.

Hate will cure our country

There are those in Canada (outside Quebec) who believe the best solution to the issue of Quebec separation is to simply let it happen. These people, tired of being asked to learn French in order to work in the federal government, think allowing Quebec to separate will turn Canada into the English-speaking-only paradise it is meant to be.

The website Canada Divided represents one of these groups. They think all Quebecers are francophones and all francophones are separatists. Without them, they argue, language purity can be achieved. French is not part of the “Canadian identity” and somehow represents “ethnic segregation” (a xenophobic website denouncing segregation — now that’s balls).

The website is pretty bare, just a web forum and some links to videos. The videos are posted to YouTube, including:

  • This one where a skinhead oppressed anglophone seems to think that the only people hired to bilingual public-sector jobs in this country are unilingual francophones
  • This one which warns that the media (which, as we all know, is part of a giant Jewish francophone conspiracy) is ignoring the growing threat of multiculturalism against our fine country.
  • This one points out for all us stupid people that the French civil code, which Quebec law is based on, is actually COMMUNISM, and that Quebec is secretly annexing the rest of Canada.
  • This one notes that all our health care funding issues are a direct result of the government wasting money promoting bilingualism.

Honestly, it’s really hard not to invoke the obvious comparisons that come to mind. Couldn’t they at least have picked a non-bald guy and had him speak in front of a non-black background, maybe have him smile a bit?

It makes sense, so let’s not do it

The Cote-St-Luc folks are outraged (OUTRAGED!) that Montreal’s transportation plan pushes back the Cavendish Extension for another 10 years.

It’s hard to see why there isn’t more movement on this issue. It’s one of those rare ones that seems to unite everyone: Public transit users whose trips to western Ville-Saint-Laurent could be shortened by up to 45 minutes, car travellers who want to avoid the Decarie circle, local businesses and the Cavendish Mall who want the extra customers, and CSL residents who want a quick path to IKEA.

So what’s the hold-up?

What does an overpriced potato peeler taste like?

In the area of senseless branding idea comes Têtes à claques, the drink. Their excuse is as laughable as it is transparent: Well, there was this drink shown in one episode. So now, those same people who want to smell like Britney Spears will want to drink that yellow juice that came out of the pilot.

And yet, the franchise must be doing something right, since it’s worth $12 million now.

For the sake of children’s health, please bring back smoking

On the one-year anniversary of Quebec’s anti-tobacco law, we have this interesting story about local youth sporting groups losing money because of the downturn in bingo revenue. So they’re asking the government to allow smoking in bingo halls, since it’s just old people and all.

The key sentence is this:

Bingo accounts for 100 per cent of the organization’s fundraising, Beaudoin noted.

Isn’t it kind of silly for an organization to put all its fundraising eggs in one basket, especially when that basket has been on fire for a year now?

So because of this ban, fewer people are wasting their money on bingo, less alcohol is being consumed at bars, and less money is being fed into video lottery terminals. Isn’t that a good thing?

These groups will just have to find other sources of revenue. Surely these old people will find other things to waste their money on, with all they’re saving by not going to bingo, not drinking, not using VLTs and, of course, not smoking.

Hi. I’m an original idea. And I’m one that’s been badly copied.

Just when you thought you’d had enough of those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ad spoofs, the Young Liberals are at it, launching three videos making fun at the Conservatives.

Quoting their press release:

“Look, it’s no secret the Conservatives are a wealthy party who can afford all kinds of fancy marketing executives and focus groups,” admits Pickup, “but within the Liberal family we’ve got talent, we’ve got dedication, and we’ve got a clear vision for Canada of which we’re proud.”

No money, eh? Chuck Gui(l)té didn’t return your phone calls?

Come on, I expect more from you, Youth Campaign Director and Online Campaign Co-chair Denise Brunsdon (also a former McGill Daily staffer). You clearly had enough money for the press release and the website. That’s far more than the New Democratic Youth of Canada could do.

“No chicks allowed” by any other name…

So apparently this woman was refused service at a bar because she is a woman. And she’s filing a human rights complaint.

Oh wait, it’s a gay bar. That turns it from an obvious case of discrimination into a debate, and some people are unsure of whose side to take.

Is it bars that are allowed to be sexist, or gays? Or just gay bars?

(Though Kate’s posts are known for being short, its her snide comments that make me laugh the most sometimes.)

To complain about Montreal’s bureaucracy, please fill out form 132-B in triplicate

After finally getting sick of government bureaucracy and having no venue to hold it in, Noel Alexander has had no choice but to cancel Jamaica Day in Montreal.

The bureaucratic hoops that Mr. Alexander had to jump through are unfortunately very familiar to me. I had a similar experience when I tried getting the city to authorize a small two-day event in Angrignon Park.

At first it didn’t seem like a big deal. Contact the right department and fill out a few forms. But then the demands started coming. First they needed proof that the organization was a non-profit. Then they needed proof that the majority of the organization’s members were Montreal residents. Then they wanted an interior design plan for the tents. Then they wanted a security and communications plan. Then they needed proof that the tents we were going to use were sufficiently flame-retardant.

I eventually gave up, sending them a letter saying their requirements were too much for a small group to deal with. We went to Plan B, which involved asking for a small piece of land outside the Pointe-Claire fire department.

The request was presented to the Pointe-Claire city council and approved at their next meeting. That was it.

Six months later the City of Pointe-Claire was merged into the City of Montreal.

For once, I take CKUT’s side

Here’s an interesting blog post concerning a complaint I’d never heard about before, filed against CKUT (Radio McGill) by an uptight Montrealer. Apparently the radio station, which is known for being … anarchist pinko commie Islam-apologist Christian-hating militant anti-American pro-big-government and yet anti-government left-wingers, aired a song called “Banging in the Nails”, which supposedly “gleefully mocked” the Crucifixion.

CKUT’s reaction to the complaint is surprisingly conciliatory. They issued an apology acknowledging that they could have been a bit more careful with presenting such strong sentiments without sufficient context, and “started a dialogue” (they’re all about dialogue those kids). Their reaction may have had something to do with being scared out of their minds that the normally laid-back CRTC had presented them with a complaint.

CKUT’s apology didn’t please the complainants, and their counter-offer apology text didn’t sit well with CKUT, so off to mommy they went.

The decision, which notes that the CRTC “does not regulate taste”, ruled in favour of CKUT, saying the song, taken in a larger context, clearly denotes a satirical comment in bad taste, but not an abusive comment targeted at a religious group.

One concern I have with the CRTC decision, however, is that it is based in part on the fact that CKUT is a university radio station and the show is a showcase for alternative bands. The implication is that, if this song had been played on Mix 96 or some other mainstream station, the decision might have been different.

But perhaps I’m just being paranoid.

Are you a Tremblay fetishist?

Then you’ll love the MICU’s new website.

Wait, let’s back up a step. The Montreal Island Citizens’ Union, Mayor Gerald Tremblay’s party, has changed its far-too-long name to simply “Union Montreal”, and has a new 70s-throwback logo.

The big part of this is the party’s new website, which still carries the domain. And that’s just the start of its problems:

  • The mayor’s face appears on its homepage at least seven different times. I realize he’s the centre of the party and all, but isn’t this just a bit of overkill?
  • What used to be a cardinal rule of web design: Don’t start playing audio until you’ve been asked to, is broken. So those of us who forgot to mute our audio will hear Tremblay welcoming us to the party’s new website. (Just what does that do for us anyway? And won’t anyone who wants to consult the site on a regular basis get fed up of that pretty quickly?)
  • “Arrondissements”, which is rightly plural, becomes the incorrect “Borough” in English. Below that it says “to acess your borough”. Further down you see the incorrect “Maisonneuve Street” instead of “De Maisonneuve Blvd.” You’d think they could hire a proofreader.
  • Video clips are provided with no captions whatsoever, leaving us to guess based on a tiny screen capture what they’re all about.
  • The site is entirely unusable if style sheets are removed. It is far too heavily dependent on Flash and images.
  • The “news” section hasn’t been updated in a year and a half.
  • The “cultural communities” and “youth”, proudly linked to at the top of every page, contain nothing more than a phone number for the person responsible for that portfolio.
  • Clicking on the “Pierrefonds/Roxboro” borough gets me a video greeting from the mayor of Lachine for no good reason, and it’s at the bottom of the page, forcing me to hunt for it to kill the audio.
  • The “become a member” page still uses the old name for the party.
  • Filling out the “become a member” page and submitting your information (unencrypted — fortunately they’re not asking for credit card numbers) results in a 404 error.
  • In fact, everything in the “getting involved” section is just another form. The website doesn’t actually provide any information on how to get involved.
  • Clicking on “Ahuntsic/Cartierville” gets you a video greeting from the right mayor, but only in French. Ther, mayor Marie-Andrée Beaudoin asks us if we knew that the borough’s northern border is on Rivière des Prairies. Really? Wow.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. This website is nothing to be proud of.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere: “Brand New” (The Other Bloke’s Blog)

Swift move, captain

There was a letter in yesterday’s Gazette from a “retired captain” (one assumes a captain involved in air travel of some sort) complaining that the Supreme Court’s decision to release cockpit voice recordings from Swissair Flight 111 was “unproductive”.

Except the Supreme Court did no such thing. First of all, the Supreme Court wasn’t the body that issued the ruling. It was the Federal Court of Appeal that did. The Supreme Court merely decided not to hear the government’s appeal of the case, which led to the Transportation Safety Board releasing the tapes (you can hear them here), which provided some nuance to the already released report on the accident.

The more egregious error is that the cockpit voice recordings were not what were released. Though the cockpit voice recorder was eventually found and studied, it was determined that the recorder failed six minutes before the plane crashed. And in Canada, CVR transcripts and audio are not made public.

What was released were the air-traffic-control tapes, which contain transmissions between ATC and the aircraft. Besides the fact that anyone with a scanner on that night could have easily recorded the transmissions, and that anything transmitted via radio signals in Canada can by definition not be considered private, the transcript of the ATC tapes had already been released quite a while ago. There really wasn’t anything new here, which makes the government’s reluctance to publish the tapes even more curious.

Far from unproductive or irresponsible, the courts’ decisions made perfect sense.