Monthly Archives: March 2009

Public consultation on 515 bus tonight

Suggested solution to traffic problems on de la Commune St.

Suggested solution to traffic problems on de la Commune St.

The Ville-Marie borough is holding a public consultation tonight (6 p.m. at the Notre Dame Basillica, 426 Saint-Sulpice) on the STM’s 515 bus, which has the conflicting qualities of being desperately needed and yet horribly underused.

The consultation is actually about traffic measures to be taken in Old Montreal, specifically on de la Commune St. and St. Laurent Blvd., to help the bus through heavy traffic which has been slowing it down.

Currently, de la Commune is one way westbound between Berri and St. Laurent, with only buses allowed eastbound. The 515 takes this reserved lane eastbound, and westbound actually uses Notre Dame, turning left on St. Laurent toward de la Commune (as I pointed out last summer, this particular turn is a big slowdown).

Documents presented by the borough suggest that the ridership numbers are even more dire than one might have guessed. It’s measured in the hundreds, not the thousands. A survey of residents and business owners taken last fall shows that only about a quarter have ever used the bus, and more than half of those use it very infrequently. The main reason given for not using the bus is that it’s easier to walk. Still, more than 60% of respondents approve of the route and think it should stay.

A study commissioned by the borough looked at various traffic options, mainly what kind of traffic should be allowed on de la Commune, and in which direction. It came up with two recommendations:

  1. Make de la Commune one-way eastbound: This would reverse the current situation for cars, and would eliminate the traffic tieups at St. Laurent where eastbound traffic must now turn left (conversely, it would create a lesser one at Berri for westbound traffic). There would be no westbound traffic whatsoever between Berri and St. Laurent, so the 515 westbound would keep its current route along Notre Dame.
  2. Close de la Commune to non-reserved traffic: Cars would be forced off in both directions, leaving on the 515 bus (east and west), morning deliveries by truck to local businesses, and any other reserved traffic the city wants to let in. Though this one is sure to piss off more drivers (especially because St. Paul is also to be closed to traffic this summer), it would make the street very pedestrian-friendly with only the occasional buses passing by. At the same time, with no traffic at all, the buses woud travel much faster.

Quebec Press Council roundup

A new round of decisions from the Quebec Press Council has been posted to its website. In addition to the Gazette case I mentioned earlier, and other dismissals, were some slaps on the wrist:

UPDATE (April 3): Le Devoir reports on these decisions a week later, saying the decisions were released “yesterday” which I guess means I’m psychic.

Making fun of soldiers is not a good idea

A Fox News host apologized today for mocking Canada and its military on his very-late-night program which apparently treats the news as something to be laughed at and ridiculed.

This story has been updated a few times during the day. At first it was just talking about the online reaction to the video which is circulating on the webosphere. Then suddenly Peter MacKay decided that Americans making jokes about Canada needed his immediate attention, and demanded an apology, catapulting this non-story into a national issue.

This whole story dovetailed nicely with footage of soldiers carrying coffins of Canadians killed in Afghanistan, which fuelled the fire of Canadian outrage.

I cringe at how much ink will be spilled (unavoidably now, thanks to MacKay) because some idiot Americans on a 3 a.m. news satire show went too far with a bad joke.

NNA nominations (with links)

Every year, the National Newspaper Awards honours the best in Canadian print journalism. And twice every year (once when the nominations are announced in March and again when the winners are announced in May), newspapers across the country toot their own horn so hard it’ll make you deaf:

As if underscoring how little the print media understand the Interwebs, the NNA’s announcement of nominees (and most stories that followed that announcement, including all the ones listed above) included no links to nominated stories and photos.

The spin went even further than that. Though the Globe and Mail (13) led nominations, followed by the Toronto Star (10) and La Presse (8), Canwest added all their papers’ nominations together and declared victory with 14 (Torstar, which also owns the Hamilton Spectator and Kitchener-Waterloo Record, got 15 nods with the Star’s 10, Spec’s 4 and Record’s 1). Sun Media also added up its nominations, but could only get to seven (none are from its Quebec papers.)

By newspaper, the penis measurements numbers are as follows:

  • Globe and Mail: 13
  • Toronto Star: 10
  • La Presse: 8
  • Calgary Herald: 4
  • Hamilton Spectator: 4
  • Ottawa Citizen: 4
  • Canadian Press: 3
  • The Gazette: 2
  • Winnipeg Free Press: 2
  • Barrie Examiner: 1
  • Brantford Expositor: 1
  • Edmonton Journal: 1
  • Lethbridge Herald: 1
  • New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal: 1
  • North Bay Nugget: 1
  • Prince George Citizen: 1
  • Reuters: 1
  • Simcoe Reformer: 1
  • Toronto Sun: 1
  • Vancouver Sun: 1
  • Victoria Times-Colonist: 1
  • Waterloo Record: 1
  • Windsor Star: 1

Other papers, including the National Post, Journal de Montréal, Le Devoir, Vancouver Province and Halifax Chronicle-Herald, were left out entirely, either because they did not enter or their entries didn’t get nominated.

Some nominated papers did include links to their own nominations, but not to others:

So since there’s no one page online with links to all the nominations, I’ll just put one together myself. Again. (I’ll add links to photo and design categories if any show up)

Multimedia feature

News feature photography

Beat reporting

  • Michelle Lang, Calgary Herald: health and medicine
  • Rob Shaw, Victoria Times-Colonist: policing issues (see “More on this story”)
  • Jane Sims, London Free Press: justice

Explanatory work


  • Linda Diebel, Toronto Star (insider stories)
  • Steve Rennie, Canadian Press (listeriosis)
  • Jeffrey Simpson & Brian Laghi, Globe and Mail (Prime Minister Stephen Harper)

Short features

Local reporting

  • Gordon Hoekstra, Prince George Citizen: forestry industry in B.C.
  • North Bay Nugget: E-coli outbreak
  • Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer: Ontario Home Owner Employee Relocation plan


  • Julien Chung, La Presse
  • France Dupont, La Presse
  • Catherine Farley & Sharis Shahmiryan, Toronto Star

Special project

Sports photography

  • Tony Bock, Toronto Star
  • J. T. McVeigh, Barrie Examiner
  • Derek Ruttan, London Free Press: Football fumble (second photo)




Arts and entertainment


Feature photography

International reporting


Editorial cartooning

Long feature

News photography

Breaking news

*Congratulations to Martin Mittelstaedt for getting his name misspelled in his NNA nomniation announcement.

The awards will be handed out May 22 in Montreal.

Journal Daily Digest: Jack to the rescue

NDP leader Jack Layton roared into town on Wednesday and stole the show for this week. In a meeting with locked-out Journal de Montréal workers, he lent his support, denounced the use of scabs and said he’s written to the prime minister asking that federal advertising be pulled from the paper until its union conflict is resolved.

Seeing an opportunity to get his name in the media again, Denis Coderre also wanted to make sure we know that the Liberals support the workers.

[Insert rebellious song title pun here]

Eric Goulet

Quebecor sucks!

In the wouldn’t-have-been-printed-in-the-Journal category:

We like freelancers, trust us!

The STIJM makes a case for the support of freelance journalists with the Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec. Though it admits that fighting for freelancers isn’t its primary mission, it says it tried to get some union protection for freelancers at the Journal and has opposed onerous contracts that demand excessive rights waivers.

Meanwhile, in other news

Don Macdonald’s humble goodbye

Don Macdonald holds an iPod Touch to his ear, not knowing that (a) it's still in its box, and (b) it's not an iPhone.

Don Macdonald holds his retirement gift to his ear, not knowing that (a) it's still in its box, and (b) it's an iPod Touch, not an iPhone.

Business reporter and markets columnist Don Macdonald, whose last day at the Gazette was March 6, had his final goodbye column published on Monday. In it, he notes that if this whole market situation has taught us anything, it’s that slow and steady wins the race, and convoluted market get-rich-quick schemes always eventually fail.

Macdonald left the paper to take a job at the Business Development Bank of Canada.

All shelters look alike

It happens to every journalist, some of us more often than others: you get something wrong. Not just getting it wrong, but getting it wrong enough to prompt an angry phone call and a correction.

In the Monday Calendar which came out this week (I do the weekly calendar on A2 on Mondays), I mentioned a fundraising campaign that the Welcome Hall Mission is doing on Wednesday where volunteers will ask for donations in the metro.

Except the Welcome Hall Mission has no such campaign. It’s Accueil Bonneau that’s doing that.

You might think it’s a small error, that won’t make much of a difference to anyone, and that’s perfectly understandable (Welcome Hall Mission is Mission Bon Accueil in French), but as a journalist there are no small errors (or, more honestly, an error isn’t small if it needs a correction).

On the plus side, this personal disgrace embarrassing error of mine gives me an excuse to point out that the Gazette is making an effort to correct articles online when an error is pointed out. My calendar for this week includes a note at the top in correctionese pointing out the mistake.

Doing this isn’t always as simple as it seems. There might be multiple copies of an offending article, for example. Or the correction might not get passed on to the online desk. But it’s necessary (if only to placate Craig Silverman), so everyone has to make an effort to do it.

More AMT coupon fun

AMT Deux Montagnes rebate coupon

AMT Deux Montagnes rebate coupon

The AMT announced today that it is adding yet more coupon distribution dates for coupons for partial rebates for its April passes. Originally it was only supposed to be Wednesday (March 18). But March 23 and March 30 have been added to the schedule.

On all three dates, the coupons will be handed out:

  • At all stations on the Deux Montagnes line from 5:45am to 10am
  • At Central Station from 10:45am to 3pm
  • At Central Station again from 7:30pm to 12:30am

As per the AMT’s compensation plan, the idea is to give 25% discounts on April passes only for users of the Deux-Montagnes train line. Another 25% discount is planned for May.

Though the reduction is less than last month’s 50% discount, my TRAM scam will still get you a (modest) discount if you just take the bus and metro. A TRAM 1, which gives access to the entire STM network (except metro stations in Laval) as well as commuter trains in the areas immediately surrounding downtown, costs $59.63 with the discount (normal price is $79.50), which is $8.87 less than the regular $68.50 STM pass. The TRAM 2, which will get you as far as Roxboro or Cedar Park, would cost $69.75, which is only $1.25 more.

That probably won’t be enough to repeat the experiment I did last month, but for those who think $9 is worth the effort, the option is there for you.

A lack of decorum in the House of Commons

Ian Capstick points out this Macleans post which points to this video of House of Commons speaker Peter Milliken reminding members of Parliament that they shouldn’t be attacking each other personally in the House.

It’s kind of sad that this video exists at all. I haven’t watched question period recently, and I don’t know what specific incident prompted this, but I’ve watched enough to say that this could be read after question period on just about every day the House is in session. Members are banging their hands against their desks, applauding, booing, yelling incoherently, and just plain heckling people on the opposing side.

Why is this?

Is it tradition? We take our parliamentary system from the British, and a look at their house shows an even worse situation when it comes to respect of honourary members. But we’ve grown past a lot of our traditions.

Is there some other reason that this background noise is necessary when people are asking others politically-loaded questions? Maybe it’s like a laugh track on a sitcom. The cheers and jeers tell us subconsciously whether we should accept or reject a particular person’s point of view, since we’re too stupid to judge the questions and answers on their own merits. But, of course, for every cheer there’s a boo, so it all kind of washes out in the end.

Is it to keep the ratings up? Nobody wants to hear politicians asking and answering questions. But when they quiz each other to the background noise equivalent of “OH NO HE DIDN’T!”, it suddenly becomes more fun to watch. The rest of parliamentary sessions, which include statements from members, petitions, or the dedication of National Honour Your Garbage Collector Day, are dreadfully boring. The yelling might just be to wake us up so we know to pay attention, the equivalent of those sound effects machines on morning radio.

Sadly, none of these explanations instill in me much pride at being represented by this government.

Gazette was (mostly) fair with Bouchard-Taylor scoop

The Quebec Press Council has ruled that The Gazette acted properly in its scoop of the year last year, getting its hands on a final draft of the Bouchard-Taylor report before any other news outlet.

When the Gazette published excerpts of the report (though not its conclusions), it elicited a lot of anger and hostility from hard-core separatists and francophone media who accused it of misleading the public even before the report was issued. Having failed to get the scoop themselves, La Presse, the Journal, Le Devoir and Radio-Canada tried to raise doubts about the paper’s take.

A week later, when the report was released, it turned out the Gazette got it right. Even then, other media (you know, the ones who put “EXCLUSIF” and “EN PRIMEUR” before every headline) questioned whether the leak was irresponsible, as if knowing the rather obvious conclusions of the commission on reasonable accommodation ahead of time would somehow undermine it.

The QPC process took longer than the media analysis. The panel rejected any notion of racism or irresponsibility that had been alleged by anglo-haters Jean Dorion and Gilles Rhéaume. It did, however, uphold a charge that the Gazette “misled the public with respect to the real value and importance that should be given to the information published.” In other words, pretending it was a bigger deal than it really was. The Gazette is appealing that part of the ruling (UPDATE July 24: The Gazette’s appeal has been rejected).

No one’s holding their breath waiting for corrections and apologies.