Updates from March, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 22:20 on 2020-03-15 Permalink | Reply  

    Fed up with federal inaction at the airport, Montreal plans to deploy public health workers to question and inform arrivals.

    • JaneyB 00:13 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      Good. I wish they’d actually just test arrivals too, not just at YUL but also traffic over the bridges to Gatineau now that there are community cases loose in Ottawa. I know it will only slow not stop the virus but who doesn’t love slow?

    • dmdiem 02:44 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      no. it’s counter intuitive, but the last thing you need to do is create a bureaucratic bottleneck. all it takes is one person in the line to infect everyone else.


    • Kate 07:20 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      dmdiem, with modern devices it doesn’t take long to take a person’s temperature, and ask anyone to step out of line if they’re feverish.

    • walkerp 07:45 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      But to what end? We don’t have quarantine centers set up. We don’t have a system to force self-isolation. Seems to me we should just let them through as quickly as possible with really strong communications that they all need to go home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

    • Kate 07:51 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      I suppose the public health agents can hand out a sheet (French and English, I suppose, but what about other languages?) explaining everyone needs to isolate for 14 days after arrival. Maybe if you have a fever the information would be more urgent, but we don’t really have a means of enforcing anyone’s behaviour once they leave the airport.

    • Joey 08:33 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      This seems more like “city is annoyed with Ottawa” than anything. Some of our friends came back from a week in Cancun the other day. They are in self-isolation for 14 days. It’s hard to believe that they are much more likely to have COVID-19 after being at a resort and on an airplane than we are after spending the same time period living our lives normally. In other words, we should all be self-isolating/quarantining – the idea that we ought to be making all kinds of distinctions based on age, recent travel, etc., seems a little too clever. My suspicion is that we will be locked down within days.

    • Francesco 09:23 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      Agree with Joey and dmdiem, but you already know that. Every airport I’ve transited in Asia has had infrared temperature screening on arrival since the original SARS-CoV in 2002. It didn’t do anything for SARS-CoV-2. Once the virus is in a community and active measures aren’t taken to prevent its spread within that community, it’s too late. As Joey said, we should *all* be taking active measures now.

      Legault’s posturing is just once again to appease his base: a small minority of Quebeckers that just simply hate people who don’t look, sound, dress or worship like they do.

    • Francesco 09:25 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      Ugh just re-read that. Please excuse the syntax and poor grammar.

    • Kate 09:38 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      For once, Francesco, I don’t feel xenophobia in Legault’s measures. Closing schools, getting bars and gyms and all those other nonessential businesses to close, are not targeted at any ethnic or religious group.

      Maybe people are right and temperature-taking is only pandemic theatre.

    • Alison Cummins 13:58 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      A friend of mine was pulled aside during routine airport check-in a few years back. « You aren’t feeling very well, are you? » asked a concerned airport officer. Well no she wasn’t, but how did they know? An infra-red monitor that discreetly screens everyone passing it.

      I don’t know that the Chinese monitoring was useless. After Wuhan they were able to keep the rest of China under pretty good control. Maybe being able to identify people with fevers and track down their contacts was part of that?

      I can see how it could be worth identifying people who might have it before they continue on their journey. Are they about to get on another crowded plane or transport vehicle? Are they going home to a large family? Does this seem to be a person who will respect quarantine measures?

      A month ago (and possibly still) African countries decided that it made most sense for their nationals to stay put in Wuhan quarantine and not come home. Africa didn’t have any cases yet and China seemed to have a handle on the situation. Stranded Africans were bored and miserable but it was better than trying to contain COVID-19 in, say, Rwanda.

      We’re taking the opposite approach. We’re being proactive about shutdowns which helps us track contacts. And we’re bringing home our nationals from countries that are making a mess of things. If someone is coming from a country that is encouraging young people to get sick (Britain) or that doesn’t have a functioning national public program (US) we can expect that they are at higher risk than people who have been self-quarantining in a country where everyone else is self-quarantining.

      IF we can identify them easily without creating lineups and crowds, and IF we’re in a position to follow up with them, I’m all for infra-red monitors and asking people if they’ve been coughing lately.

      (I’m also all for making screening available to other risk groups — teachers, cashiers, anyone who spends time with old people — not travellers specifically.)

    • Kate 15:54 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      I wonder if that temperature scanning device was put in for SARS, and whether it’s still operating.

    • Alison Cummins 16:55 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      Kate, possibly, or MERS. Apparently Istanbul airport is the only one to have it permanently installed, but it was broken when we went through a couple of weeks ago.

      Also RE what we do with returning snowbirds:

    • Francesco 22:10 on 2020-03-16 Permalink

      Hi @kate I was specifically referencing Legault’s rhetoric about foreigners and his posturing about the feds not doing enough to stem the flow of foreigners through YUL. His comments are anything but science-based.

  • Kate 18:24 on 2019-05-14 Permalink | Reply  

    Luc Ferrandez announced Tuesday that he’s quitting politics.

    Ferrandez says his main issue with Projet is its inability to act firmly enough on environmental issues.

    Update: There will have to be a byelection to choose a new Plateau mayor within 120 days of Ferrandez’ official resignation.

    • Ian 19:45 on 2019-05-14 Permalink

      I’m glad for him that he got to go out on a noble note. The cynic in me says “fuck you” was a last straw in a series of bad optics. The even more cynical part of me thinks he was finally too much of a doctrinaire moron and Plante needed to cut him loose since she now needs to woo the CAQ and has to be seen as a team player. Welcome to politics, folks.

    • Douglas 20:47 on 2019-05-14 Permalink

      “100% tax on on-street and off-street parking, taxing cars entering the downtown area, reinventing trucking plans within the city, taxing foreign investments, taxing waste, lobbying to prevent the expansion of the airport, limiting the development of the oil activities in the port and taxing meat.”

      Good riddance. Good thing Plante was practical about running this city and didn’t give this guy more power.

    • Kate 21:22 on 2019-05-14 Permalink

      Douglas, that’s exactly the kind of commonsense realpolitik that will doom us as a species. Ferrandez is right. You are wrong.

    • Tim S. 21:31 on 2019-05-14 Permalink

      It’s a pretty good list Douglas quotes. Whenever Project calls me ask to me to renew my membership or donate or whatnot, my answer is always that I’m disappointed they haven’t done more (anything) to improve traffic safety and discourage the SUV takeover of my neighbourhood.

    • CharlesQ 22:39 on 2019-05-14 Permalink

      @kate thanks! It’s exactly what I wanted to say. I’m still baffled by the narrow mindedness and short sightedness of so many fellow citizens. Cars are just a symptoms and they don’t make sense on so many levels (all the space taken up by roads and parkings, heat island effect, air pollution effects on health, greenhouse gases, etc), especially in central neighbourhoods. I don’t understand drivers who think they should be able to drive anywhere anytime when there are thousands of other drivers who also want the same thing… it doesn’t add up.

    • Douglas 00:07 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Fellow citizens like me are just not falling over their heads believing that if Montreal was to eliminate all cars on the road the world will magically turn into a paradise utopia.

      I’m glad Plante runs into the reality that in order to govern responsibly you don’t let the extremes of the spectrum run the asylum.

    • Jack 04:28 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Douglas you are now the extreme, your shortsightedness is a danger to my children.

    • walkerp 06:59 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      I second what Jack said. We are in a global crisis. If anything is extreme its the fact that people think owning a gigantic box of plastic and metal that is killing them and the planet is normal.
      Especially when the alternatives are viable and make for a much more pleasant life for everybody. Car owners are going to become very similar to gun owners in the U.S.

    • walkerp 07:12 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      On a side note (and perhaps somewhat petty at this point), I wonder if the truth will come out about the North Field now.

    • Tim S. 08:15 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Well, perhaps there’s some sort of middle ground between “all cars are evil” and “I need a range rover to get to my yoga class 8 blocks away”

    • John S 08:30 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      As a local I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see him go. And its not the “anti car” stance as much as his “my way or the highway” approach to local politics (irony intended). He really seemed like he wanted all aspects of life in the Plateau to conform to his vision of how people should live in general and F-you if you don’t like it. I’m thinking of his reactions to noise complaints re: bars on St Laurent and St Denis, the killing of the baseball field, and while I generally support a lot of his traffic calming measures there were a lot of ways he could have sold them better to outsiders – its not as if the Plateau has become THAT hard to visit. He just rubbed me the wrong way and I think in his later career he’s done that to a lot of people.

    • Kevin 08:54 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Ferrandez’s list, as noted by @Douglas, is something I frequently vent about when it comes to life in Quebec.

      The instinctive reaction in Quebec’s Francophone political class is to use the stick. I don’t know if it’s because they all had their knuckles rapped by their teachers, if they were terrorized by nuns, or have a big Catholic fear of hell, but the first reaction is always the threat.

      And it fails. A lot. Which Ferrandez found out in spectacular fashion when the people looked at his pet project and firmly rejected it.

      Seduction works a lot better, but Quebec’s elites don’t understand that concept. They could take a lesson from A&W.

    • Myles 10:35 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Even making a dent in the problem of climate change and giving ourselves a decent chance at maintaining a functioning civilization is going to require collective mobilization and sacrifice on the level of World War II. Ferrandez’s proposals were the barest beginning of what we need to accomplish in the next 10 years, and even that was too much for people. It’s honestly getting terrifying to be stuck in a society that just doesn’t get the seriousness of this.

    • YUL514 11:20 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Thanks Douglas, what we need to be focussing on is more electric/hybrid cars, much better fuel efficiency on current combustion engines. Cars will not disappear, especially with the cost of housing on the island. Families will continue moving to off island areas, for better or for worse. Cars aren’t going anywhere which means EVs are the solution.

    • Jack 11:42 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      YUL514 that ship has sailed. When you talk about housing are you talking two car garage, thermo pump , extremely low density, huge cost per citizen for sewage, water, roads, plowing etc.etc.
      Because we all subsidize this “cheap” housing so developers can make a killing and destroy more.

    • Douglas 11:47 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Jack, car drivers pay the vast majority of municipal taxes collected in this city, not only am I not a danger, you should be thanking me for my contributions. You are welcome. Your kid too.

      USA and China combined add 2-3 Montreals every year to their economy population wise and consumption wise. Us putting a rock in our shoe will do absolutely nothing to slow down pollution globally.

    • Jack 11:56 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Rock solid logic , so essentially just stand around and play the fiddle.

    • Ian 12:52 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Kevin is right when he says “The instinctive reaction in Quebec’s Francophone political class is to use the stick.” This is why Ferrandez was unpopular, he was seen as an authoritarian disciplinarian. His solution to too many cars on the road is to increase the cost of parking and hike taxes – Plante’s is to improve transit. Plante’s approach is more humane, forward-thinking, and ultimately effective – and will result in a more liveable city where Ferrandez’s plan is just to punish everyone for not immediately doing what he thinks is best. Honestly I think half his reason for quitting is the Camilien-Houde debacle, which is pretty much a slap in the face for him.

      In truth though, you know what will solve the climate crisis? If about half the world’s population dies and the rest is forced to return to a pre-industrial largely agrarian lifestyle. Everything else is wishful thinking, there is no way the world can support human population on this scale. Even if everyone in Montreal stopped using plastic, driving, and eating meat now and forever, billions of people are going to die of flooding and famine. The real problem is large scale globalized industry, and even Ferrandez knows all our efforts as citizens of Montreal are a misdirection, like making people give up their wrought iron fences in WW2 to support the war effort. All this green citizen brigade stuff is to keep us docile and feeling good about doing “something”. The heads of a few fortune 500 CEOs on pikes would do immeasurably more for the environment than any amount of citizen eco-consciousness, but nobody wants to address THAT harsh reality. We don’t need the three R’s, we need revolution – or catastrophe.

      Either way, as George Carlin says, the planet is fine – it’s humans that are fucked.

    • Chris 14:04 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Douglas, “car drivers pay the vast majority of municipal taxes collected in this city” in the same way that right-handed people do: only because they are the majority. In fact, society subsidizes car use and ownership in so many ways: free roads, free parking, etc. etc. My coworker was telling me how he can get thousands in government subsides buying a new electric car, whereas my bike is 1000x “greener” but it’s not even exempt from GST/PST. 🙁

      I for one like Ferrandez, sad to see him go. Plante has been disappointing so far (though not as much as previous mayors, but that’s a low bar).

      The best thing one can do for the environment is not have children. Every human wants to maintain or better their standard of living, and our population continues to grow and grow. Those two things just can’t continue. Government should provide free contraception to everyone that wants it, that would help way more than crap like “turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth”.

    • Joey 14:50 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Sounds like Plante was increasingly fed up with having to clean up after his tantrums. Recall that after his fuck-you Saturday, it was Plante who had to face the media and tell them that he had apologized (to whom? For what? We’ll never know, though I suspect one day he’ll let it be known that he made no such apology):

      Luc Ferrandez a affirmé, en entrevue dans divers médias, qu’il avait été muselé par la mairesse, une critique que Mme Plante rejette. « Au comité exécutif, c’est lui qui avait la plus importante tribune. Je lui laissais beaucoup de latitude, parce que j’adhère à plusieurs de ses projets et à sa vision. De là ma tristesse devant son départ », a-t-elle dit.


      The idea that Ferrandez has been muzzled doesn’t pass the LOL test, though I would be shocked if he didn’t feel it to be true. There is a limit to what a municipal politician, even one at the seat of city power, can accomplish – I think the frustration that did Ferrandez in is the same frustration many Plante supporters feel: decisions about the way the city runs are largely at the discretion of a provincial government that will never really give a shit.

      Anyway, it’s time for some new leadership in the Plateau, which will be PM forever. Perhaps the environmental objectives that Ferrandez is now touting will be more attainable when the borough mayor pushing for revolutionary change isn’t a huge asshole.

    • Ian 15:58 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      Well they just named Norris interim mayor, so so much for that.

    • qatzelok 20:17 on 2019-05-15 Permalink

      The reasons for Ferrandez’s resignation can be found in the comments of this article on this page: he can’t handle how backwards his own citizens are, and realizes they probably can’t be reformed. Only collapse will change our ways.

      I hope he’s wrong about this, but he’s been front and center fighting our car-addicted dragons for a long time, and there are a lot of them. So I wish him a happy and relaxed retirement with lots of car-free moments.

    • YUL514 10:53 on 2019-05-16 Permalink

      Qatzelok, why not push for more EVs and Hybrids instead of the far fetched notion of getting rid of all cars?

  • Kate 08:06 on 2019-04-17 Permalink | Reply  

    Hasidic groups in Brooklyn have been the site of a recent measles outbreak, so with Passover visitors expected here, the local communities are bracing for trouble.

    The item doesn’t explain where anti-vaxx ideas intersect with Orthodox Judaism.

    Passover this year coincides closely with Easter i.e. this upcoming weekend.

    • Ephraim 08:37 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      This is a second case. There was a case earlier, but the measles never transferred to Montreal because they vaccinate here. The reason is simple… it’s free. A lot of the Haredi community doesn’t have full healthcare in the US… where you have to pay for it. And in Israel, fully socialized medicine is only from 1995, so those older generally didn’t have coverage. Of course, since you have to buy it, not everyone follows the law…

    • Kate 08:51 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      How much can an MMR shot cost? (I’m prepared to believe it’s hundreds of bucks, in the United States.)

    • Brett 09:39 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

    • Ephraim 10:20 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      @kate – See https://www.walgreens.com/topic/healthcare-clinic/price-menu.jsp it’s $99.99 for MMR per dose (and this is given at the pharmacy… it’s even more at the hospital, doctor or clinic in the US) and you need 2 doses. Incidentally, if you wonder what the maximum the RAMQ pays for a medication is, it’s all published online at http://www.ramq.gouv.qc.ca/en/publications/citizens/legal-publications/Pages/list-medications.aspx but standard vaccines aren’t there, because you don’t buy them with the pharmacare program, they government buys them in bulk. But it’s much cheaper to vaccinate than to deal with the medical costs of not vaccinating… never mind the coffins for the 1 in 1000 that dies of measles.

    • Ian 11:15 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      “When asked why people are opting out of vaccines, the New York city health department said anti-vaccine propagandists are distributing misinformation in the community.

      The fearmongerers include a group called PEACH — or Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health — which appears to be targeting the Jewish community with misinformation about vaccine safety, citing rabbis as authorities, through a hotline and magazines. Brooklyn Orthodox Rabbi William Handler has also been proclaiming the well-debunked link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Parents who “placate the gods of vaccination” are engaging in “child sacrifice,” he told Vox.”


      Each community follows the advice of its own rabbis, presumably the Montreal Hasidim aren’t on board with this particular line of thought.

    • Ian 11:16 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      But important to note, that is a small group –

      “Some Jewish community leaders are not wild about New York City’s new, shall we say, vaccination edict, but they, their organizations, and the overwhelming majority of local doctors are resolutely pro-vaccination.

      Ezras Nashim, the women’s ambulance corps that serves observant Jewish women in Borough Park and the surrounding area, issued the strongest of statements encouraging vaccination, citing, among other things, the Talmud’s declaration that “all of Israel are responsible for each other.”

      Rabbi David Niederman, director of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn (UJO), a Satmar community-service group, was equally emphatic about the Halachic demand to vaccinate children. He stressed that those who opposed it are part of a fringe group, much like the anti-vaxxers in the United States as a whole.”


    • Chris 14:24 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      Kate, there’s this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccination_and_religion

      I could imagine a correlation between religiosity and vaccination hesitancy. Both groups are prone to believing in things without evidence. (i.e. if virgins can bear children, then vaccines can cause autism.) Not sure if anyone has studied that…

    • Kate 15:14 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      Ian, Ephraim, thanks for the research.

      Chris, you don’t see it. Because a person or group of people is religious it does not necessarily open them to new irrational ideas. I was curious where anti-vaxxers had found an opening into Orthodox Jewish culture, which is in most ways pretty realistic about medical care.

    • Mark Côté 15:50 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      The anti-vax stuff I’ve seen has had very little, if any, religious content, unless you count “new age” viewpoints.

    • thomas 16:45 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      @Mark It seems anti-vax proponents will make up any argument if they think it will stick to a target audience. There was a nytimes article over the weekend where an evangelical family objected to vaccinations because they are made from human abortion DNA.

    • Chris 22:56 on 2019-04-17 Permalink

      Kate, of course. I did not say it _necessarily_ does, I said I suspect a correlation/overlap between groups. Religion is the ultimate fake news, if one can fall for it, one could be more likely to fall for another kind. A quick search reveals there is at least some data supporting my suspicion: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3906279/#R147

    • jeather 13:59 on 2019-04-18 Permalink

      Wealth correlates negatively with religion but positively with anti-vaccine, so I wouldn’t think “those crazy people who believe in god probably don’t believe in vaccination” follows. (Historically vaccination and earlier variolation were invented and taken up by religious people as well-.)

    • Raymond Lutz 20:12 on 2019-04-18 Permalink

      Wealth correlates negatively with vaccination? That’s not what Gapminder shows for vaccination rate VS GDP/capita

    • jeather 21:24 on 2019-04-18 Permalink

      Wealth correlates positively with anti-vaccine in North America, the context of vaccinations is very different in other cultures and also not particularly relevant to the question of how it correlates with religion.

    • Chris 10:41 on 2019-04-19 Permalink

      Correlation is not causation. I don’t think there’s a causal relationship like: religiosity -> anti-vax. I suspect it’s more like: predisposition to ignoring evidence -> anti-vax, predisposition to ignoring evidence -> climate change denial, predisposition to ignoring evidence -> religiosity.

    • jeather 17:17 on 2019-04-19 Permalink

      Correlation is not causation, no. But your argument doesn’t even have the grace of actually fitting the evidence.

    • Chris 14:10 on 2019-04-20 Permalink

      jeather, please reread my posts. I’m not even making an argument, I’m stating some suspicions that I indeed do not know are true, but merely suspect. I repeatedly used words like “suspect”, “could imagine”, etc. I shared two links showing that religion is indeed one (of many) reasons given by some for vaccination hesitancy. You’ve just asserted, showing nothing. Raymond already contradicted one of your assertions with data. How about you show something instead of just asserting? Show me a study showing no correlation, I’d genuinely like to know if there is or isn’t.

    • jeather 12:42 on 2019-04-21 Permalink

      Low vaccination rates in Sudan are due to entirely different factors than North American or European rates and not relevant, as I mentioned.

      Here are two links that show a correlation between wealth and lower vaccination rates in the US:

      Here is one link that shows an inverse correlation between wealth and religious belief:

      Feel free to imagine all sorts of new ways to dislike religious people. I’m not going to change your mind.

  • Kate 08:17 on 2018-08-18 Permalink | Reply  

    City hall is pondering truly universal suffrage – giving all residents the right to vote in municipal elections, regardless of their citizenship status. Given the pathetic response of voters at this level – fewer than half of eligible voters can be arsed to get out and vote – and the number of people who live here who are permanent residents but not citizens, it would be a smart move to get more people involved in civic politics.

    Footnote: recently an acquaintance told me he had received his Canadian residency papers. I responded “Congratulations!” and he laughed. This is a man who has lived in various places and already has citizenship in two other countries. “It’s only Canadians who offer congratulations about this kind of thing, and you all do,” he told me.

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