Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, driving, Montreal, Opinion, Politics, United States

When It Comes To Cars Montreal Is More Fresno Than Oslo

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Wider sidewalks, more trees and fewer lanes for drivers are part of the plan for Ste-Catherine Street. (City of Montreal)

Evidently, if a recent article in a local newspaper is accurate, Montreal is in a war (a losing one this far) with cars. Our mayor has shown scorn for car owners by severely reducing the number of parking spots in the downtown core.  Her major reworking of central artery Ste. Catherine Street will see wider sidewalks, less room for vehicles and hundreds of fewer parking spots.

But geographically we are, obviously, closer to other Canadian and American cities than we are to Paris or Berlin. Or Oslo.

In tourism bumf, Montreal is often referred to as the Paris of North America. The language is clearly not the same as the rest of the continent, even if you can always get by with English. But geographically we are, obviously, closer to other Canadian and American cities than we are to Paris or Berlin. Or Oslo.

In the Norwegian capital, the city administration is aiming at making the downtown core car-free. Yes indeed, they want to have no vehicles at all. Lots of bikes and public transit.  In the early stages of this project, there was a large backlash from car owners. (In Norway car ownership is about 30%.) They felt like second-class citizens, not wanted in their own city. So the city said, okay we won’t ban cars, but we will ban parking.

… due to asinine long-term street closures that choke off incoming clients and force them to go to malls with ample free parking

In Montreal, countless businesses, many long-established, have gone broke due to asinine long-term street closures that choke off incoming clients and force them to go to malls with ample free parking.

When it comes to automobiles Montreal is more Fresno than Oslo.

In Fresno and most American cities, the car is king (the national average for car ownership is two cars per person!). I’m not suggesting that’s a good thing, but merely emphasizing that Montrealers’ attachment to cars is more along the lines of American cities than, say Oslo. I believe our dear mayor is going to kill a once vibrant downtown area by making it nigh on impossible to get there and stay there.

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Donald Trump, Media, News, Opinion, Politics, United States

Justin Trudeau Misses Chance To Quote Father

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They say that history tends to repeat itself. Given some of the rotten things that have taken place – wars, plagues, racism – I hope this supposition does not hold water.

Yet last night in London, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had an opportunity to draw on the past. During a gathering of what is known as the G7, Trudeau made an off the record remark about Donald Trump. Trudeau stated to two fellow leaders in what he thought was a private conversation, that Trump’s habit of holding very long press conferences had left the other leaders waiting for an event to begin last night.

“I’ve been called worse things by better people”

Foolish of him really, he should have known that at such a function the leaders are essentially always in the presence of live mics and cameras.

When informed of the slip, Trump, fully on the record, called Trudeau ‘two-faced’.

This afforded Trudeau an opportunity to cite his late father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Upon learning in 1971 that then US President Richard M. Nixon had referred to him as ‘that asshole’ Trudeau senior merely reacted by saying “I’ve been called worse things by better people”.

Justin

Alas, Trudeau junior missed the chance, and instead dwelt on other aspects of Trump’s comments about himself and Canada’s lack of NATO spending.

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Canada, Canadian Election 2019, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Liberal Leadership, News, Opinion, Politics, Polls, United States

Canadian Election Turns Uglier

It’s the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. A time to gather with family, eat and drink too much, and give thanks for all the good things we have. And I think most of us can scrape up at least a few positives in our lives to muse on. 

Dirty politics are nothing new, even in Canada, but this current campaign has at times reflected some of the more underhanded tactics associated with the absolute cut-throat campaigning often seen in the United States

We are also in the midst of a federal election campaign. Voting day is October 21st and the pollsters predict a very close race. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, this has resulted in a rather dirty campaign. Dirty politics are nothing new, even in Canada, but this current campaign has at times reflected some of the more underhanded tactics associated with the absolute cut-throat campaigning often seen in the United States.

Old pictures dragged out by the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) in an effort to disgrace the incumbent Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seem to have missed the mark, at least as far as party support goes. Rumours of CPC Leader Andrew Scheer’s involvement with a radical right-wing religious cult (Opus Dei) have also made the rounds.

Then there is Andrew Scheer’s father. He was born in the United States and passed along that citizenship to his sons. Scheer himself was born in Canada and is in the process of renouncing his US citizenship. Frankly I don’t see the need for him to do so, but that is the state of affairs today. What does interest me is the common phrasing – dog whistle – one hears. New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh‘s parents moved to Canada from India. They are referred to, accurately, as immigrants. Yet the conservatives seem to be more comfortable saying Andrew Scheer’s father was “born in the States” and moved to Canada, thus avoiding the “i” word that so many of them seem to find off-putting.

When Trudeau did appear he was clearly wearing a bulletproof vest and was closely surrounded by armed guards. This is Canada, not the Middle East

But last night things hit rock bottom. Trudeau was to address a rally of some two thousand supporters in Mississauga, Ontario. The start of the proceedings were delayed by ninety minutes as security forces with sniffer dogs scoured the venue. When Trudeau did appear he was clearly wearing a bulletproof vest and was closely surrounded by armed guards. This is Canada, not the Middle East.

One has to assume some sort of threat had been made on the Prime Minister’s life to evoke such a drastic response. Who was it? A CPC supporter trying to stop the rally? A LPC supporter looking to cast a pall on the CPC while Making Trudeau look like a hero? However if you suggest he had courage to go ahead with his speech, many conservatives will criticise you, saying he endangered all present by not scrubbing the event. However had he cancelled, I imagine those same folks would have called him a coward! Sometimes you just can’t win.

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DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, Marketing, Opinion, Travel, United States

It’s Always Open Season On Tourists

Which is why I always wonder why, if cities, towns, countries, cherish the infusion of outside cash, is it always open-season on tourists?

I could never be accused of being a world traveller. I’m much more a homebody, preferring the creature comforts of my little niche in the world. Yet lately I’ve been making forays out of my comfort zone. New York City and Costa Rica are two examples. However, just because I don’t get about much, does not mean I don’t appreciate the economic benefits of tourism. Which is why I always wonder why, if cities, towns, countries, cherish the infusion of outside cash, is it always open-season on tourists? 

It just seems to be taken for granted that as a tourist you are going to get screwed left, right, and centre. And, evidently, tourists are supposed to just shrug and laugh off paying exorbitant prices for daily items. From souvenirs to airline meals, prices are insane. It’s not bad enough to be targets for thieves and pick-pockets, even reputable establishments get on board when it comes to squeezing  coins from those beloved travellers.

It just seems to be taken for granted that as a tourist you are going to get screwed left, right, and centre.

Recently my wife and I were in the Miami International airport sitting-out a few hour lay-over. No problem, we were not in any rush, and it was nice not to have to hurry to get a connection. While waiting we decided to have a meal. We went to Shula’s Bar and Grill for a burger and a beer given it was located closed to our gate.

The place was not busy, and service started out fine with the delivery of menus. A little while later the waitress returned to take our order. We each asked for a pint of draft Coors Lite as listed on the menu.

“Sorry,” she said. “We don’t have any draft beer here”.

Not the end of the world, do you have Coors Lite in any form; bottle or can.

“Sorry, how about Bud Lite in a can?”

Wonderful, two of those would do us just fine. In no time at all the two cans had arrived at our table and, not too long after our hamburgers made their appearance.  

Also, a gratuity of 18% had been included. The service was alright, but not 18% quality

While eating what were very tasty burgers indeed I noticed a woman at another table who, having had just an appetizer was taken aback by the ungodly price when her bill arrived. Gobsmacked to say the least, the woman paid and left in a huff.

I ordered another Bud Lite as we had plenty of time to kill. My wife had a coffee. When the time came to pay, I knew it was going to be ridiculously high. I knew the burger prices from the menu, but not the canned beer prices. So I was just a wee bit shocked to read that the cans were US$8.50 each. A significant mark-up. But what the hell, the people who come to airport restaurants are either travelling for business which means they will be reimbursed, or … you guessed it … tourists. Soak them good!

Also, a gratuity of 18% had been included. The service was alright, but not 18% quality.

I asked to pay by credit card. She brought the handy machine. My credit card chip had been damaged, so I was limited to Apple Pay, but this being MIA, a major airport in a big city, I had no doubt they would accept Apple Pay.

Unfortunately I was wrong. When I took out my phone to pay she told me “We don’t accept that method”. 

Okay, this was considerably inconvenient, but not the end of the world. I plucked the last of my US currency from my wallet and placed it in the little folder and waited for my change. It was only three or four bucks, but having already paid an 18% tip I wanted my change. When she got around to our table she said – wait for it – “Sorry, I don’t have any change”.

I plucked the last of my US currency from my wallet and placed it in the little folder and waited for my change. It was only three or four bucks, but having already paid an 18% tip I wanted my change.

Now I was getting a tad cranky. First no draft beer, even if it was on the menu, then wicked prices for cans of beer, followed by an automatic 18% gratuity then no convenient payment method all topped-off with a claim of no change, had me annoyed.

I did something I rarely if ever do, after listing my grievances, I asked her to show me to the manager. She replied by saying, in a tone that suggested her exasperation with me, “Oh, I can get your change if you really want it”.

Clearly she just wanted to augment her 18% tip by claiming to not have any change. She was, I suspect, used to business travellers and roll-over-and-take-it tourists. I hope she put the extra few bucks to good use, as I could only shake my head and walk off to my gate.

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DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, New York City, Photography, Travel, United States

Missing Red Dot

Any luck finding the all-important red dot?

A couple of months ago my wife and I visited New York City. We stayed in a hotel on the Upper West Side, clean, convenient, and not too pricey. The only problem was the dodgy emergency exit signs.

We were on the eleventh floor, one that had clearly once had larger rooms that had been chopped-up into smaller studios. The hallway was a bit maze-like, but all we did there was sleep so no big deal.

One morning while waiting for the elevator I took a peek at the emergency exit diagram just in case. In fact since returning I have looked at the photo above on several occasions but for the life of me (thankfully figuratively) I cannot find the important You Are Here red dot.

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Donald Trump, Media, Montreal, News, Opinion, United States

Michael Jackson: To Ban Or Not To Ban

Following the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland that rocked the Michael Jackson legacy, several radio stations in Canada have stopped playing his music. The four-hour documentary seems to provide irrefutable evidence of The King of Pop’s paedophilic tendencies.

From CNN.com

While some will make the argument that he is no longer with us and therefore not able to defend himself, others just flat-out refuse to believe. It seems that in our Trumpian times facts and truth have taken a back seat to shouting and ranting.

What if the paedophile was not a performer, an entertainer, but a cancer researcher who discovered a sure-fire cure for cancer?

However I wonder if banning his music is the way to go. Are his songs any less enjoyable? The beat, the lyrics, the rhythm are still the same. If Jackson were still alive I could understand a boycott that would hit him in the wallet, but he isn’t. 

What if the paedophile was not a performer, an entertainer, but a cancer researcher who – sadly hypothetically – discovered a sure-fire cure for cancer? Would we stop using his science and go back to people dying of cancer? Of course not. What the doctor, or Jackson, did is repugnant, but we can’t paint the situation with such a large brush.

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DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Donald Trump, Humor, Media, News, Opinion, Television, United States

WH Correspondents Dinner Needs a Rethink

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Much is being said in the wake of Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD). Once again this year President Trump refused to attend the event, instead opting to hold a campaign-style rally in Michigan during which he was free to take pot shots at the media, the left and anyone else.

If you are going to use humour to skewer someone, a real zinger, you better make sure it’s funny!

They say that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. It astonishes me to say, but among the idiotic things Trump was spouting in Michigan was a kernel of truth: the WHCD is dead. Not that they won’t have another, but the old tradition of “good-naturedly” poking fun at each other has been replaced by downright nastiness.

However, that’s not what gets me riled. I can watch two adversaries quip each other all day assuming they are funny. But the last two dinner comedians have lacked that one essential ingredient: humour.

I say either bring back the old style roasting or call the whole thing off before it turns very ugly.

Don Rickles was never my cup of tea. Not because he engaged in insulting people for a living, but because I never found what he said funny. Michelle Wolf, someone I must admit I had never heard of prior to Saturday evening, was not funny either.

If you are going to use humour to skewer someone, a real zinger, you better make sure it’s funny!

I say either bring back the old style roasting or call the whole thing off before it turns very ugly.

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, Donald Trump, News, Olympics, Politics, United States, US Election 2016, Wordpress

Presidential Decorum a Relic of the Past

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I have a friend who is American but currently resides here in Montreal. He has often commented to me about how knowledgeable he finds many Canadians are regarding the United States. I have pointed out that for Canadians, living so close to the USA, it is almost impossible not to become more than familiar with our neighbours.

As the late Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau once explained, sharing a border with the USA is like sleeping with an elephant. Even the slightest movement has a great effect on us.

US_FlagThey say that the British do pomp and circumstance well given their royal heritage, but I maintain that when it comes to the trappings of patriotism, no one can outdo the USA. From flags to military uniforms to flags on military uniforms, great reverence is the norm for these symbols. (Ever notice how the flag on the right shoulder of a uniform is flipped so the stars appear in the upper right corner? Why? If you assume the flag is being carried on a pole, the usual configuration would indicate that the soldier is going backward, or retreating. That won’t do.)

Recently in Korea Shaun White, an Olympic medalist from the US got caught up in his own exuberance and lost track of the flag he was waving about. The flag got entangled in his snowboard and as he walked away it was seen dragging on the ground. It was an accident; he did not intentionally defile the flag, he didn’t step on it or set it on fire. Yet there was a hue and cry on social media, chastising the athlete.

All of this leads me to wonder how another great symbol of the United States, the office of the president, can be so egregiously degraded by President Trump without a similar outpouring of disgust.

All of this leads me to wonder how another great symbol of the United States, perhaps the greatest, the office of the president, can be so egregiously degraded by President Trump without a similar outpouring of disgust. The actual Oval Office, as well as the position of president, are steeped in decorum and respect. At least they were until the current inhabitant moved in.

Silly misspelled posts on social media, asinine rantings at campaign-style rallies, “management by Twitter”, and the ludicrous slagging of former presidents have all contributed to Trump’s besmirching of the office.

Regardless of party affiliation, the presidency of the United States has garnered respect, it was held in high esteem and the incumbent was pressed to live up to that expectation. Yet since Trump assumed the role, his total lack of decorum, of respect for his predecessors, has become the norm. Why don’t those who were so quick to denounce White for dragging the flag make a whole lot of noise about what Trump is doing to the much-vaunted presidency? Just when we Canadians think we’ve got our neighbours figured out, it boggles the mind.

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, Donald Trump, Gun Control, Opinion, United States

My Long-Time Neighbour Is Sick

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By Karsten Ratzke – Own work, CC0,

For as long as I can remember we’ve had the same neighbour. We go back years, decades, indeed centuries. We live in what in the real estate world is known as a semi-detached. Which of course means it is also semi-attached; we share one very long partition, I am hesitant to call it a wall, given what my neighbour has in mind for the other side of his house.

Oh, sure we have the occasional spat, a little falling out. But when push comes to shove we have each other’s back. 

We are so very similar in many ways, and get along just fine for the most part. Oh, sure we have the occasional spat, a little falling out. But when push comes to shove we have each other’s back. For instance, my neighbour had an ungodly upset about 17 years ago when one of the central family members was struck down in an egregious act of violence. We did what we could to help the situation and felt our bond grow stronger as often happens in difficult times.

Our cultures are similar, sports, arts, entertainment are all on the same track. Not identical mind you, but shall I say variations on a theme. The way we run our household is, again, on the surface comparable, yet dig deeper and it is almost like night and day.

We often spend time in each other’s place; in fact, we are each other’s most frequent visitor. Over the years many members of my extended family have married into my neighbour’s clan, and vice versa.

There is something akin to a cancer that courses through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in over a year ago, the vile malignancy has surfaced.

All in all, we are a pretty close pair. Which is why I write this. You see it has occurred to me recently, after poring over the vivid assay results, that my neighbour is sick, undeniably very ill. There is something akin to a cancer that courses through my neighbour. Perhaps it has always been there, but since a new head of the household moved in over a year ago, the vile malignancy has surfaced. For the most part this sickness manifests itself in relatively small flare-ups, but once every so often, frankly way too often, a major outbreak erupts that knocks everyone for a loop. One such episode occurred last week.

My sadness over my neighbour’s sickness is compounded by a strong feeling of frustration. You see, the illness, hideous though it is, is absolutely curable. Other neighbours in our community have suffered from similar afflictions, and have taken appropriate actions to remedy the situation. But my semi-detached neighbour not only refuses to consider the cure but rather insists on confronting the disease by applying even more disease.

I would be lying if I did not admit to also having a selfish desire to see my neighbour well, and that is the concern that, like popular culture, the disease may spread to our house.

We have been good neighbours for so long that it pains me deeply to see this lovely big household  (mind you our house is bigger even if our family is smaller)  afflicted in such a destructive manner. I hope that before it is too late my next-door neighbour will realize that something must be done to eradicate this infirmity. In conclusion, I must come clean, I would be lying if I did not admit to also having a selfish desire to see my neighbour well, and that is the concern that, like popular culture, the disease may spread to our house.

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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DCMontreal Commentary, Donald Trump, News, Newtown, Opinion, Politics, United States, Wordpress

Time For Major GOP Funders To Withhold

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In the wake of yet another mass killing at yet another US school, the rallying cry has gone out to get elected officials to do something about the ridiculously easy access to high-powered guns in the United States. And as usual, one party, the Democrats, are standing with those shouting for an end, while Republicans blather on about “thoughts and prayers”.

Gun proponents often trot out the tired old saw that they believe explains how guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s cute but totally absurd. Guns don’t kill people: people with guns kill people. That’s just more simple logic: no guns = no gun deaths.

Is it that Republicans have little care for future victims? Do they not think the situation is now long out of hand? Well if they do they have a funny way of showing it. Sadly it all comes down to one thing in their stony hearts: money. Filthy lucre.

According to an Opinion piece in the New York Times from October 4, 2017:

Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.

I don’t know about their primary voters, but the National Rifle Association donates millions of dollars to candidates and spends millions more sponsoring events supporting primarily GOP candidates. In the last election, they spent upwards of $30M getting Donald Trump elected (of course, as we will all soon find out, the Russians helped out as well). No wonder he refuses to do anything about the situation. The logic is simple: it is not in the best financial interest of politicians to bite the hand that feeds them. And the NRA is a harsh master, threatening to withdraw funding at the mere mention of undeniably sane proposals (background checks for one). They are not big on the idea of compromise. No art of the deal for them.

Is it conceivable that a major donor to candidate X could threaten to withhold contributions unless the candidate refuses NRA money?

Gun proponents often trot out the tired old saw that they believe explains how guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s cute but totally absurd. Guns don’t kill people: people with guns kill people. That’s just more simple logic: no guns = no gun deaths.

But what if some of the other big donors took a stand? What if pressure was brought to bear on other large donors to GOP candidates? Is it conceivable that a major donor to candidate X could threaten to withhold contributions unless the candidate refuses NRA money? Should the gun control advocates be lobbying other major donors in an effort to get them to apply pressure?

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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