COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, Opinion, Quebec

COVID-19 and the Passage of Time

salvador_dali___persistence_of_memory_by_lutique-d6xapdv_1024x1024

In War and Peace, not to be confused with Warren Buffet or Warren Beatty, Leo Tolstoy’s character General Kutuzov states: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time”. Approaching the 50th day of COVID-19 induced self-isolation lends great credence to that adage. Salvador Dali understood time’s finicky nature.

A “long time” is a very subjective concept

A couple of days ago Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his daily press briefing/address to the nation pointed out that “What is a normal life will take a long time to return”. A “long time” is a very subjective concept.

Anyone who has ever had old-fashioned root canal surgery knows that the process seems to go on for hours. And if you are like me, with a well-honed gag reflex, the thirty seconds or so that it takes to create an accurate dental impression feels like days. The concentrating on nose-breathing in an attempt not to choke with what must be seven oversized hockey tooth guards in your mouth feels like goes on for days, if not weeks. Of course in “real-time” it’s just a matter of seconds.

When I first heard of the self-isolation thing I didn’t think I could do it for two days, never mind fourteen. But I did, only to discover that the two-week time frame was just a way to keep me occupied so I would not notice that when it was up anywhere I might want to go had been closed.

… you have spent the last couple of months scaring the living shit out of us, and now you expect us to be eager to get back to work. Are you insane?

Yes indeed, I thought. Once this 14-day nonsense is over I’ll be able to return to my usual activities. A few beers with buddies at the bar. Nope. A nice meal in a restaurant. Nope. Maybe a movie. Nope, all closed. So self-isolation continued as there was nothing to do!

There have been many lessons learned recently including the variability of the concept of time. One man’s hour is another man’s week.

And now, after urging us to stay home, invoking legal sanctions in the form of fines on those who do not observe proper physical distancing, and warning of the easy spread of the virus they want us to start to slowly return to – not normal – but daily life.

Noodle

Excuse me, but you have spent the last couple of months scaring the living shit out of us, and now you expect us to be eager to get back to work. Are you insane?

Will the new reality require the six-foot distancing for years to come? If so the time has come to invest heavily in pool noodles. Unless the government has already hoarded them.

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COVID-19, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Montreal, News, Opinion, Quebec

COVID-19 Exposes Quebec Staff Shortages

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Montreal Gazette

Aside from white hair roots that go undyed during the COVID-19 process of self-isolation, the pandemic has exposed other things as well. Here in Quebec, one such revelation has been the chronic understaffing of long-term residences.

The vast majority of deaths in Quebec have been seniors, many of whom died in one of these residences. Could proper staffing have reduced this number?

So, the premier has been asking, or more accurately pleading, for these people to come forward and answer the call to fill-in at these residences

The premier of Quebec has vowed that once we are out of this nightmare there will be an inquiry into the situation. But currently, the province is short of 1,200 people to work in these residences. While some of those require full medical training – doctors – the majority of them are nurses and orderlies.  They just can’t find people who are trained and willing to work in what are potentially very dangerous locations.

While the pandemic is still in full swing, many elective medical procedures have been postponed. This has led to many medical specialists finding themselves with time on their hands.

So, the premier has been asking, or more accurately pleading, for these people to come forward and answer the call to fill-in at these residences. He clearly explained that they would be doing things that are beneath their level of training and experience. But that must be done nonetheless.   Essentially he is asking well-trained medical specialists to do the things normally carried out by nurses and even orderlies.

Dowd

Initially, the union of medical specialists felt slighted, insulted. How dare the premier think so little of us. We’re significantly above that kind of work.

While this may well be true, all things being equal, all things are not equal at this time. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

To their credit, once egos had been salved, some one-thousand medical specialists have put forth their names to respond to the emergency situation. Good on them.

This will no doubt lead to the situation where an orderly, making about twenty bucks an hour will train a doctor making over $200 an hour …

But there’s another ripple.  The government will pay these physicians $2,500 a day. This will no doubt lead to the situation where an orderly, making about twenty bucks an hour will train a doctor making over $200 an hour based on a twelve-hour day.

It’s great that these physicians have decided to exercise their sense of duty and answer the call. But $2,500 daily must take a bit of the sting out of having their egos hurt. Now the nurses feel scorned; they assume they will still have to do the lion’s share of the work (they believe the doctors will not change diapers or carry out other messy but essential tasks). This pandemic is starting to take its toll in many ways.

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DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Montreal, Photography, Quebec

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, a Train to Cry and a Crane to Make a Crane

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Strolling through post-snow storm downtown Montreal early last evening I came upon one of my favourite things. Like a child, I am amazed by construction cranes. The erection of them, the actually precision use of the crane, and ultimately the take-down; all fascinate me.

Perhaps it is my fear of heights, but I can’t begin to imagine spending a working day thirty or forty floors up on a crane. Once my height aversion calmed I’m sure my claustrophobia would kick in.

Crane_1

So there I was last night on a main downtown artery, closed for the operation, watching an army of workers preparing a segment of the crane while it lay on the ground. Once it was ready, it would be hoisted up to its position and fixed in place.

But how to get it all that way up?

Well, Bob Dylan pointed out that it takes a lot to laugh, but it takes a train to cry. Let me add that it takes a crane to make a crane. Yep, the only way to get the top portion of a construction crane to its destination is to use another crane. It makes sense really.

But then how did they build the very first crane?

The crane building crane is a portable one mounted on a large flatbed truck. Have crane, will travel. I think I may have missed my calling in life; just as long as I don’t have to go up!

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Sucking The Life Out Of Downtown Montreal One Parking Spot At A Time

Union

We are now well into the month of December. While many may lament the too early appearance of Christmas decorations in stores in November (October?), all bets are now off. Seasonal shopping is in full swing; decorated windows, street lights, and pretty much anything that does not move are now deemed fair play.

But now Sunday is the second busiest day, after Saturday, for shopping in downtown stores.

I can recall a time when downtown Montreal was a ghost town on Sundays. That was prior to 1985 when the Lord’s Day Act was struck down allowing stores to remain open. The streets were deserted with no stores open, and subsequentially no restaurants given the lack of sidewalk traffic. It goes without saying parking spots were plentiful.

But now Sunday is the second busiest day, after Saturday, for shopping in downtown stores. Not surprising really, most people have the day off, our society is more secular and restaurants eagerly await tired shoppers.

Yesterday I drove my wife downtown, dropped her off, and went in search of a parking spot. It was 11:30 A.M. which meant I had a full ninety minutes until the parking meters kicked in. In an ironic twist, when Sunday first became a shoppers’ dream, the parking meters were free all day. But it was soon discovered that taken spots were, for the most part, store employees who, arriving earlier than shoppers, snapped up the spots and held them all day. So the city broke-down – he said with tongue in cheek – and enforced the use of parking meters on Sunday. This led to downtown houses of worship crying foul that members of their congregations now had to pay to pray. So the city went back to the drawing board and decided that parking meters would only come into effect at 1:00 P.M. on Sundays to allow church-goers a chance to park free.

… why are so many evidently free streets reserved for something that may or may not occur?

Alas, at 11:30 A.M. yesterday there was not a parking spot to be found. Actually, that is misleading, there was in fact street after street of parking meters that were, for reasons unknown, deemed out of use (capped with the dreaded red bag). Other streets had been reserved for movie-making crews to park trucks and set-up equipment.  While many of the already rare parking spots were serving as meeting points for seemingly countless police vehicles keeping watch over a couple of demonstrations.

Did I mention this was one of perhaps three prime Sunday shopping days?

I understand that routine maintenance work is a necessity, but why are so many evidently free streets reserved for something that may or may not occur? I spoke with a contractor not so long ago. This gentleman is a foreman for a company that does much road maintenance for the city of Montreal. He told me that his company had been awarded a contract to carry out repairs of some sort on a downtown street. He explained that his company got the contract because they guaranteed they could do the job in one day. Only one single day of traffic disruption would be tolerated, or fines would be levied.

Unfortunately, it took the city at least two weeks to get around to removing the red bags. That’s two weeks of parking revenue lost …

His crew arrived early on the appointed day and found that both sides of the street had parking meters with red bags indicating no parking. They were able to get down to work right away and by day’s end were done and dusted. Unfortunately, it took the city at least two weeks to get around to removing the red bags. That’s two weeks of parking revenue lost (except for the tickets given to those frustrated drivers who took the chance and got nailed), and two weeks of inconvenience.

It is no secret that Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante is at odds with downtown merchants and drivers with her massive restructuring of Ste. Catherine Street which, when completed, will have eaten up several hundred parking spots. The work is not yet complete and already long-standing businesses are going belly-up due to drastically reduced access to their establishments.

I fear this will backfire and only lead to shoppers taking their business elsewhere, to malls and outlets that provide ample free parking.

I believe the mayor has an image of Montreal that is comparable to several European cities, Madrid and Oslo among them when it comes to reducing the number of cars. However, Montreal is a whole lot closer to US cities where the car is king.

If it is the current administration’s intention to wean people off their cars by making them less welcome downtown, (i.e. getting rid of parking spots ) I fear this will backfire and only lead to shoppers taking their business elsewhere, to malls and outlets that provide ample free parking.

As the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. If the city has any desire to see downtown Montreal flourish, they should encourage people to shop there by providing adequate parking, instead of trying to force them to use public transportation.

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Media, Montreal, Obituary, Opinion, Petition, Public Transit, Quebec, Wordpress

Name Griffintown REM Station for George Springate

George Springate
Recently Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante suggested naming the REM station in the Griffintown area for former Quebec premier Bernard Landry.

Work is well underway around Montreal on the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). A 67 km (42 mile) rapid light rail system that will link several suburbs with Downtown Montreal via Central Station. It involves the conversion of the existing Deux-Montagnes commuter rail line to rapid transit standards. A station at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport will serve as the terminus of one of the four branches.

Griffintown is the name given to the southwestern downtown part of Montreal, Quebec

Recently Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante suggested naming the REM station in the Griffintown area for former Quebec premier Bernard Landry.

Griffintown is the name given to the southwestern downtown part of Montreal, Quebec, which mainly existed from the 1820s until the 1960s, and was mainly populated by Irish immigrants and their descendants.

In response members of the city’s Irish community are asking Mayor Valérie Plante to withdraw her proposal. Calling for a more area-appropriate suggestion. 

In response members of the city’s Irish community are asking Mayor Valérie Plante to withdraw her proposal. Calling for a more area-appropriate suggestion

On November 21st George Springate passed away at the age of 81. Born in Montreal,  he received a Bachelor of Arts from Sir George Williams University. He also received a Bachelor of Civil Law degree in 1968 and a Bachelor of Common Law degree in 1969 from McGill University. From 1958 to 1969, he was a police officer with the Montreal Police. From 1966 to 1968, he was a member of the McGill Redmen football team.

In 1970, he played 11 games with and was part of the Grey Cup winning Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. In total he played 17 games with the them over 3 seasons.

In 1970, Springate was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec as a Liberal for the riding of Sainte-Anne (Griffintown). He was re-elected in 1973.

Also in 1970, he was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec as a Liberal for the riding of Sainte-Anne (Griffintown). He was re-elected in 1973. In 1974 he was removed from the Liberal Caucus for voting against the French-only language bill along with John Ciaccia. During the Bill 22 crisis, he compared Québec to both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. 

 

After leaving the Liberal Party he was elected as an independent candidate in 1976 for the riding of Westmount. He did not run in 1981, and thereafter being completely disillusioned by the Liberal Party’s direction threw his support behind Brian Mulroney to lead the Conservative Party and as the future PM. In 1989, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

It is my opinion that upon completion the Griffintown REM station be named for George Springate. To that end here is a link to a Change.Org petition in support of the notion

He was a teacher in criminal and civil law at John Abbott College. He was one of the founding members of the “Police Technology” program at John Abbott College ; he retired from teaching in 2008. He was also a columnist for The Chronicle, a local Montreal newspaper.

In 2000 and again in 2006, he was appointed a Citizenship Judge. In 2008 he was appointed Canada’s Senior Citizenship Judge for a five-year term.

It is my opinion that upon completion the Griffintown REM station be named for George Springate. To that end here is a link to a Change.Org petition in support of the notion.

(Factual data in the above post is from Wikipedia)

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, driving, Formula One, Montreal, Opinion, Quebec

Montreal: Race Cars and Traffic Cones

This weekend marks the unofficial kick-off of Montreal’s tourist season as the Formula One circus rolls into town. Hundreds of thousands of race fans descend upon the city wearing F1 garb, driving expensive sports cars and spending wads and wads of money. Bring it on!

During an average F1 weekend the traffic situation in Montreal is absurd, but this year promises to be even more ridiculous due to massive sections of downtown being closed for work. Add to this the traditional closing of several streets to accommodate stages and various events and you have a recipe for traffic mayhem.

One of the long-term traffic situations that has just been introduced involves work being carried out to redo the entrance to a Metro/Train station. Fortunately this is not downtown, but close enough to cause trouble.

The entrance is just part of the project, the main goal is to build an underground passageway between the transit hub and a large, recently opened, “super” hospital. The hospital, or hospitals, are located about a nine-iron from the Metro station, but currently to get from one to the other requires a circuitous trek.

Needless to say the hospital campus was not built overnight. Did no one, during the planning and construction, think it may have been a good idea to connect these two entities? Montreal is a city that has been the subject of much tourism bumf regarding our Underground City. The city has a labyrinth of subterranean shopping concourses that provide easy, warm, and dry access to what appears to be several million shoe stores, yet it was not deemed important to connect a health campus to public transit.

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Odd Quebec Election Campaign Slogan

PLQ_Poster

The Quebec Liberal Party finds itself trailing in early election campaign polls. While other parties try to tap into the Liberal’s traditional Anglophone support, I suspect these attempts will fail. Yet I find the English version of the party’s slogan, “To make life easier for Quebecers” somewhat odd.

By all means make things better, stronger, healthier, wealthier, for Quebecers. But we really don’t require things to be easy.

I get the gist of it. Perhaps it’s just the translation from the French “Pour facilter la vie des Québécois” but the idea of making things easier sounds to me as if the party considers Quebecers to be a bunch of lazy simpletons who can’t handle difficult things.

By all means make things better, stronger, healthier, wealthier, for Quebecers. But we really don’t require things to be easy.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Montreal Traffic Snarls Could be the Things of Legend

If you have been in Montreal recently or have read this blog post, you are no doubt aware that the city is in the midst of a huge infrastructure replacement project. This is the sort of thing that many cities have to undergo as roads and highways age and crumble. Inconvenient for sure, but necessary to ensure public safety and improve transit.

… owing to the infrastructure work BOTH entrances to the highway are closed. For two weeks? Two months? Nope, two years.

Poor road conditions and the Montreal Canadiens are the things of legend around here. Tonight the Canadiens host the New Jersey Devils at the BELL Centre. When the team moved from its beloved Montreal Forum, recognizing the need for a significantly larger building, they took up residence in a brand new arena that was then called the Molson Centre. I assume that prior to putting a shovel in the ground, many factors were taken into consideration by planning commissions and various government agencies, including easy access to highways without having to drive across town.

Upon leaving the indoor parking at the BELL Centre, and paying the king’s ransom they charge, motorists are a mere block from an entrance to a major west-bound highway. Should you be fortunate enough to have found a parking spot downtown, a drive of four or five blocks will get you to another entrance to the highway. Well planned indeed.

Except for one thing; owing to the infrastructure work BOTH entrances to the highway are closed. For two weeks? Two months? Nope, two years. For the next 24 months both entrances will be closed to traffic. A single temporary point of access to an interim highway is located a few kilometres from the arena.

…but a whole whack of them will attempt to gain access to the west-bound highway amidst snow removal operations and major road re-construction. The mayhem could be epic in proportion. Stay tuned!

On Tuesday the city was blanketed with the first significant snowfall. Some 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) of snow fell over a 24-hour period; then today the temperature has plummeted to – 25 degrees turning the fluffy snow rock-hard and making driving tricky.

So sometime around 10:15 tonight, 23,000 fans – hopefully very happy, celebrating a home team victory – will emerge from the BELL Centre. Many will hop on the Metro or take a bus. Some will make their way to a bar or restaurant, but a whole whack of them will attempt to gain access to the west-bound highway amidst snow removal operations and major road re-construction. The mayhem could be epic in proportion. Stay tuned!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Montreal, News, Opinion, Quebec

Season’s Greetings Bonjour-Hi

Weil

It’s the funny season again. As in the Season’s Greetings debate. As fellow blogger Marilyn Armstrong at Serendipity has pointed out, it was never illegal to say Merry Christmas. Some folks, myself among them, find the all-inclusive Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays phrases work well when addressing a group of people comprised of a variety of religious backgrounds. But saying Merry Christmas really can’t be construed as negative; I don’t celebrate either holiday, but if someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah or Happy Diwali, I certainly am not offended.

They felt that by allowing this bilingual greeting some may sense that Montreal is a bilingual city, (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it is) not a solely French one.

Here in Québec, we have our own silly debate taking place in the form of Bonjour Hi. In the city of Montreal, it has become something of a tradition for store employees to address customers by saying Bonjour Hi as a means of determining in which language the conversion should proceed. Couldn’t be simpler, could it? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the pro-sovereignty Parti Québécois (PQ) opposition party got its hackles up over the use of the English word Hi. They felt that by allowing this bilingual greeting some may sense that Montreal is a bilingual city, (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it is) not a solely French one. Perish the thought that a storekeeper should want to provide good customer service.

The PQ went so far as to introduce a motion, not a law, to encourage the use of the single French Bonjour greeting. The motion passed unanimously, including those members who represent primarily English-speaking constituents. Many of those constituents were less than pleased that their elected officials voted for a motion that evidently pointedly omitted their language.

One such representative, Kathleen Weil, who was recently named Ministre responsible des Relations avec les Québécois de langue anglaise – the minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers – said we had all misunderstood the vote. Given the backlash on social media, I suspect it may be more accurate to suggest the elected officials did not understand their constituents.

Evidently, the gorge between linguistic groups is narrower than the one between the English-speaking community and its elected representatives.

Regardless of motion, legislation or advertising slogan, why would those elected to represent large numbers of English-speakers think that voting in favour of something focused on the eradication of their language would be met with anything but piles of scorn, calls for resignation, and disgust?

Fortunately the store employees in Montreal, and I bet a few in Quebec City, stores are still using Bonjour Hi. Evidently, the gorge between linguistic groups is narrower than the one between the English-speaking community and its elected representatives.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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In Montreal It’s Bonjour-Hi

Hi

You might think that a city that can and does function in two languages would be a benefit. Particularly when that city is located less than 100 miles from the United States. Montreal is just such a city, offering tourists a real taste of a French-speaking city with the comfort of being understood in English.

Just about perfect you might say. Who could possibly find fault with the concept of store clerks, wait staff, cab drivers and just plain folks greeting one another with Bonjour-Hi? This little couplet has become an unofficial motto for Montreal, one that some see as a welcoming means of determining in which language to continue the discourse, while others deem it an irritant.

The opposition Parti-Québécois wants to pass a motion declaring the use of Bonjour-Hi an irritant. This party would like to see English usage in Montreal eradicated. Instead of embracing the bilingual nature of the city, they push their heads into the sand and refuse to see the positive side of the coin. When it comes to the language debate, Quebec politics turns zoo-like in a hurry.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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