Tag Archives: Justify Your Existence

TWIM: Scientology, the NFL and other threats to our existence

A double dose from yours truly today:

This week’s Justify Your Existence is an interview with a member of Anonymous, the anti-Scientology group. Though she’s unnamed, you’ll recognize her as the same young woman I made fun of talked about earlier when a video was posted on YouTube in which she said Scientology conspired to get her fired from her job. Though I suggested she was weird, to her credit, she was willing to sit down with me and explain herself. Reaction on their forums is starting to build here.

There’s also a protest today at 11 near Lafontaine Park, for anyone interested.

UPDATE: For those of you who are reading this article because it was posted on the Anonymous forums and have never read it before, Justify Your Existence by its very nature takes a tough stand against its interview subjects — part of the reason it’s tough getting interviews sometimes.

Also, from the Enterbulation forums:

NO WAY!!!!
His name is Steve Fagay?????

Actually, no it’s not. But I’m touched by the maturity.

Finally, I’ve already got hate mail. Sweet.


This week’s Bluffer’s Guide is about the Buffalo Bills game in Toronto this week, and what the NFL testing the waters in Canada could mean for our national football game. There’s suggestion that the Bills might move to Toronto after its current owner dies and the franchise is sold off. Such a move, worryers say, would spell the end to the Toronto Argonauts, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and probably even the CFL itself.

It comes the same day as this piece from The Gazette’s Herb Zurkowsky, quoting league officials worried about the NFL threat. He also has some interesting history in his notes that I wish I’d stolen from is useful for context.

UPDATE (Aug. 21): A reader points out that other NFL games have taken place on Canadian soil. This will be the first time that regular-season games take place in Canada, however.

TWIM: Are speeding tickets a government conspiracy?

This week’s Justify Your Existence is Alfredo Munoz of S.O.S. Ticket. You’ll recall earlier this month there was some dust kicked up at a new service from this ticket-fighting brigade setup by a former police officer. That service alerts drivers to radar speed traps, so they can slow down and not get a ticket.

The article (which Kate thinks has an editorializing headline but I think is a legitimate question, even though I didn’t write it) is cut off online. Here’s the missing text:

Alerts are given to drivers by text message on their cellphones. Doesn’t that encourage dangerous cellphone use while driving?

We can walk and chew gum at the same time. It takes a second to read, and you can hold the cellphone in front of you as you read it, to keep your eyes on the road. It doesn’t worry me. We’ve studied this. Ads on the side of the road or drinking a coffee are more of a distraction than a text message.

I talked with Munoz last week in the small company’s log-cabin-like offices in Old Montreal, around the corner from the municipal courthouse. He sat me down on his expensive-looking leather couch and we talked for a while about the ethics of his service and tickets in general.

Munoz, a young technically-proficient businessman, not only didn’t agree that what he was doing was morally questionable. He feels he’s helping society through this service:

  • It keeps the idea of speed traps in drivers’ heads, so they’re conscious that they need to slow down
  • Because it relies on members reporting speed traps, it’s not 100% and won’t encourage people to drive faster because they can never be sure a cop isn’t there
  • Everyone speeds anyway. It isn’t less safe
  • Speeding tickets don’t make highways safer, they just bring in more money to the police
  • Dangerous driving is caused by 16-18-year-olds who are taught about signage and the highway code but not how to drive safely or keep a car under control in an emergency

Munoz sees S.O.S. Ticket as the only true force representing regular car drivers. He philosophizes that nobody has ever changed the world by being liked by everyone.

Whether he does more good than harm is something for you to decide.

TWIM: Kenya and bus schedules

This week’s Bluffer’s Guide concerns the unstable political situation in Kenya, which has already claimed hundreds of lives in a country that was supposed to be one of Africa’s democratic leaders. Worth taking a look in case you feel bad knowing more about the status of Jamie Lynn Spears’s pregnancy than about the difference between Kenya and Rwanda. For more, check out the excellent special sections from The Guardian and BBC News.

This week’s Justify Your Existence concerns the STM’s bus service improvements I mentioned a week and a half ago. Asked why three buses (18 Beaubien, 24 Sherbrooke and 121 Sauvé/Côte-Vertu) had reductions in service (primarily on the weekend) when they were announcing service improvements, the response was that these are normal seasonal variations in service for these lines. The STM changes schedules four times a year, and compared to the winter schedule of January-March 2007, there are no reductions in service:

At each schedule change, we look at the weekend offering, and we adjust based on customer demand. The 24 line, for example, mostly serves business workers, so fewer people take it during the weekend. There will be about 14 hours less service on the weekend for those three lines, but we’re adding over 115 hours of service to those lines during the week.

TWIM: Ron Paul and other things sketchy

This week’s Justify Your Existence is Jacques Grondin, a member of the Montreal Ron Paul Meetup Group. Despite being a Canadian citizen, and not an American one, he’s campaigning for Paul here in Montreal, trying to raise his profile among American expatriates and Canadians who will be affected by this presidential race.

Montreal isn’t part of the U.S. Why campaign here?

Grondin: It’s a dilemma. Most of the people we talk to are Canadians and not Americans. But there are plenty of Americans in Montreal, plenty of tourists. Pierre Trudeau was very popular in the U.S. John F. Kennedy was popular in Canada and around the world. Paul fits into that class.

You’re Canadian. Why not get involved in Canadian politics, instead?

Grondin: There is no Ron Paul in Canada. The closest thing you’ll find is the Canadian Action Party, and I’m a member of that, as well. But getting into the White House is a bigger goal.

Also this week is a short profile of Matthew Forsythe’s blog at comingupforair.net. He’s an accomplished illustrator who likes to make sketches of the world around him. (He’s already put out the welcome mat for readers.)

TWIM: Griffintown and telemarketers

This week’s Justify Your Existence features a slew of “urban planning geeks” who met a few weeks ago to discuss the proposed redevelopment of Griffintown, a sad-looking area just south of downtown. They met at the behest of A.J. Kandy, who runs the Save Griffintown blog and lives in nearby Little Burgundy.

Proposed Griffintown redevelopment

They’re not opposed to the project necessarily. It would revitalize the area, be entirely privately-funded, and provide a lot of housing (social and otherwise). But they’re concerned about its proposed size, which would put an entire neighbourhood under the control of a single real estate company, and some measures they think will encourage car use and discourage pedestrian traffic. (Big box stores like Wal-Mart, for example, take forever to walk around and provide nothing but a brick wall for most of its street-level facade.)

They prefer a mixed environment that’s seen all over downtown Montreal: Commercial establishments at street level, with housing above. They also want more consultation with residents, a promise not to expropriate land, and a cookie.

(UPDATE Dec. 30: Kate mentions formatting problems. Unfortunately, The Gazette hasn’t been able to steal Chimples away to run their copy-paste online operation … yet.)

(UPDATE Dec. 31: AJ has a post on Save Griffintown going into more detail about where they are now.)

(UPDATE Jan. 4: I totally missed it (and I think everyone else did too), but coincidentally in the same issue, J.D. Gravenor interviews Griffintown residents Chris Gobeil and Judith Bauer about their place. Both were part of the urban planning geeks and Gobeil is quoted in my article.)

Also this week is a bluffer’s guide to Canada’s Do Not Call registry. Bell was awarded the contract to run the list (as the sole bidder), and now we’re left wondering if the fox is guarding the chicken coop. The list, which will be free and binding on telemarketers who aren’t charities, politicians or newspapers (haha, suckers) is to be up and running by Sept. 30, 2008.

UPDATE (Jan. 23): Chris Gobeil and Judith Bauer have an op/ed in Le Devoir about Griffintown’s future.

What did Benoît Labonté really say to me?

This week’s Justify Your Existence is Benoît Labonté, the mayor of Ville-Marie who quit Gérald Tremblay’s Union Montreal party in September and last week joined the Vision Montreal party (which is so dormant that knowing the name of its current leader would win you a prize at a trivia contest).

The interview is actually a composite of two interviews, and for a very good reason.

I first spoke to Labonté about two weeks ago, asking him about being an independent now that he’s had two months of it. His answers were surprisingly candid: explaining that to be part of a party you have to accept certain compromises, but that he’s OK with that as long as you agree on the fundamentals.

A week later, while the article was still in the bank waiting to be published, Labonté announced he was joining Vision Montreal, making about half the article moot. So I had to talk to him again. (This time trying to squeeze in between the dozens of Montreal journalists trying to get a few words.)

I asked him how long he’d been talking with Vision Montreal, and he said a couple of weeks, though he later clarified that there’s no “official beginning to talks”.

I mention this because I asked him during the first interview whether he had discussions with Vision Montreal, and this is what he said:

No talks with Vision Montreal?

No, since I left I have talked to so many people, elected officials or not, and leaders in the economic sector, cultural, social, environmental sectors, you know, I have had many many discussions with many different people about their views of Montreal, the future of Montreal just to help me reflect on the situation of Montreal and consequently of what I want to do regarding that, so yes I have had many contacts with many people. I’m not staying at home at night watching TV.

(listen to audio of this exchange)

So my question to you is: Was this a denial?

(Apologies for sound quality. This was to check my quotes, not for broadcast. Certain parts of the audio have been amplified for easier listening, so if you hear what sound like cuts that’s what they are. It’s my first uploaded audio clip of an interview.)

Finally, I’m glad to see Labonté kept his promise to me, not to change parties again before the article was published.

Never trust a student politician

I’m afraid you’ll have to take my word for the fact that I have two more articles in the paper today, as neither is online (If you have the newsprint version, they’re on Page B2).

The first is a Justify Your Existence piece on Concordia Student Union president-elect Angelica Novoa, who has been under attack by her political opponents for being incompetent. Anyone want to take a wager on which side of this political magnet will be outraged with it first?

The other is the third in my series on Quebec bloggers-turned-authors: Mère Indigne, who unfortunately put her blog on hiatus mere days after I interviewed her. On the plus side, this means starting next week I can go back to featuring English blogs, some of which have been in my bank ready-to-write for four months now.

I should be ok for the next few weeks, but if anyone has suggestions for interesting local blogs that are updated regularly, let me know.