Updates from May, 2021 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 18:56 on 2021-05-13 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has posted a small surplus over the last year, despite the ravages of the pandemic. I can’t make much sense of what the opposition is kvetching about here, especially the point made by Karine Boivin Roy, described as official opposition leader, who says “Montreal is under financial trusteeship and is stuck in a role as creature of the provinces” (my translation). Canadian cities are by definition creatures of the provinces they are in, and have rigidly limited rights to raise new taxes. That’s nothing new, and is not the doing of Projet. Describing the city as “going begging to Quebec” is simply to describe how the setup actually works.

    If anything, I’m impressed there’s even a small surplus after more than a year of pandemic and state of emergency. But I guess Ensemble Montreal (is it not called Équipe Coderre yet?) has to come up with something to moan about.

    • Thomas H 19:19 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      Isn’t it true that municipalities in Quebec (Canada?) are required to keep their books balanced? I’m hoping someone more enlightened can confirm or deny this old wives tale I’ve been carrying with me for years, but if true, it must mean there have been substantial cuts somewhere in the municipal budget, unless the city has profited over the housing affordability crisis.

    • Clément 19:58 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      Municipalities cannot run an operational deficit (tax revenus must cover recurring expenses)
      But they can go in debt to pay for major infrastructure projects. And then, the repayments on those loans become part of the recurring expenses.
      In other words, you can’t pay the groceries with your credit card, but you can have a mortgage for your new public library or your shiny new baseball stadium…

    • Thomas H 20:08 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      Thank you, Clément! Wow it really is incredible that the city has managed this with that context.

    • M 09:39 on 2021-05-14 Permalink

      $400 million’s worth of budgeted contracts were delayed in 2020, that’s why there’s a “surplus.” If anything, there’s a +$200 million deficit, that’s why the opposition is using the term “creative accounting.”


    • Kate 10:13 on 2021-05-14 Permalink

      M, a city like this is always having to move sums of money around to adapt to changing situations (e.g., pandemic) and uneven revenues. Where people get confused is that the financing of a city is not the same thing as running a household or a small business, although some politicians positively get high on claiming that it is, because it’s an easy sell to grumpy taxpayers.

      If we’d had Coderre in city hall through the pandemic, do you think his accounting would be any less “creative”?

    • M 14:30 on 2021-05-14 Permalink

      I fully understand that a municipal budget is not like that of a household, thanks. And I’m sure the reporter from the Gazette who wrote the article knows that too and clearly explains where there was a shortfall. A surplus in 2020 should be met with suspicion; every level of government has had to spend more with less revenues. “Some” people still get confused about that, apparently.
      And it’s not always a Plante vs Coderre scenario.

  • Kate 10:44 on 2021-05-13 Permalink | Reply  

    Thursday’s big news is Simon Jolin-Barrette’s new French language law, Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, which Les Perreaux tweets is 100 pages long. It seems likely the next few news cycles will be given over to analyses of the thing.

    Update, again quoting Perreaux: “The bill limits enrollment in the English part of the college system (CEGEPs) to 17.5% of the student population. English colleges will also give priority to students qualified to study in English under the rules for grade school.”

    Another update: On CBC radio, Jonathan Montpetit notes one of the big claims made in the bill: a demand to change the Canadian constitution.

    In tangential news, Rima Elkouri reports in La Presse that the test given to postulant immigrants here comes from France and uses a lot of terms and references specific to Hexagonal French and life in that country.

    • Blork 11:31 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      If it were written in English it would only be 60 pages.

    • Joey 12:13 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      My impression is that the 17.5% figure is a maximum and that the annual percentage cannot exceed the previous year’s, so if in any given year it dips, it can never go back up. I assume in the short term the 17.5% proportion is “safe” but as demographics shift if it every drops down it can never go back (barring court challenges, future reforms, etc.). A bit of a poison pill, though post-secondary administrators are very good at managing these kinds of numbers

    • Kate 12:41 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      so if in any given year it dips, it can never go back up

      Doesn’t this more or less imply that they intend to reduce the English-speaking community over time?

    • Kevin 12:44 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      Here’s the English-language link https://t.co/E1jMlZekmA

      Article 159 unilaterally changes the federal Constitution to state that French is the only official language of Quebec.

      I can’t even.

    • Joey 13:39 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      @Kate that’s certainty the idea

      @Kevin this seems like ‘mountain out of a molehill’ category; Wikipedia explains that “Section 45 of the Constitution Act, 1982 allows each province to amend its own constitution. However, if the desired change would require an amendment to any documents that form part of the Constitution of Canada, it would require the consent of the federal government under section 43. This was done, for example, by the Constitution Amendment, 1998, when Newfoundland asked the federal government to amend the Terms of Union of Newfoundland to allow it to end denominational quotas for religion classes.” (Constitution of Canada article)

    • Kevin 15:21 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

      The constitution can be altered with the consent of all involved.
      But the section that SJB wants to change doesn’t even concern the portion that requires mandatory bilingualism in many aspects of Quebec’s existence.

      Not to mention that it was just a few weeks ago that the CAQ was denouncing the constitution as yet another thing imposed on Quebec against its will and yearghh I’m out. Just picture all future comments as being from Effin Birds.

  • Kate 10:27 on 2021-05-13 Permalink | Reply  

    An audit of the international students taking adult education classes at the EMSB showed that many were unable to understand English or French.

    Full disclosure here: I taught briefly in that system around that time. One of my classes had only people from China, and the other was more diverse, with Chinese students and local people.

    I was teaching a graphic design course, nominally about proofreading, but you can’t teach proofreading for 60 hours so I included aspects of typography and principles of adapting layout to content and using type to create emphasis and convey meaning. It was kind of fun.

    The Chinese students were great and they all passed my final exam, which partly tested their comprehension as well as their spelling. In China everyone learns English in school, albeit often a slightly broken-telephone English learned from people who learned from people for whom it wasn’t a first language. Still, they all knew enough to learn from me, and pass the module, even the young guy who seemed to be napping in the back of the class most of the time. I was agreeably surprised.

    Yes, some of these folks were probably signed up for the course because it gave them enough educational hours to qualify for permanent resident status. So what? They were willing to put the effort in, and if none of them actually became a graphic designer*, many of the skills are transferable. And my folks can proofread.

    Incidentally, I don’t really see where French is relevant to this story, because the EMSB was not giving instruction in French.

    *I had one student whose illustration work was topnotch, so I hope he got into video game work, which would suit his style, and a trio of young guys from Chengdu who were already making websites. The EMSB may be at fault but they were not wasting their efforts in the long run.

    • Kate 09:49 on 2021-05-13 Permalink | Reply  

      After Wednesday’s La Presse piece about a report revealing persistent and overt racism within the blue collar workers in Montreal North, the paper talks to the head of the union. Luc Bisson admits change must happen but says racism is in society, so society must change. He’s right, in a sense, but he’s also a spokesman for his members and needs to make them realize that worker solidarity means all workers, not just the ones that look like you. Bisson needs to face the fact that the study showed that both management and union reps have been turning a blind eye.

      The most surprising thing in this piece might be Montreal North mayor Chantal Rossi saying that the report came as a surprise to her. Sadly, I don’t think it surprised many others.

      • qatzelok 12:24 on 2021-05-13 Permalink

        The systemic racism in Montreal North and adjacent areas is visible in the urbanism. White people live in the waterfront bungalows and the seniors’ residents slab towers, while “the others” live in land-locked apartments with almost no parks and no transit.

        This “zoning apartheid” has also trashed the waterfront and continues to do so.

    • Kate 09:24 on 2021-05-13 Permalink | Reply  

      A man was stabbed overnight at the corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Denis, and a suspect was arrested.

      Wednesday, a motorcyclist died on de Lorimier in Ville-Marie in a collision with a truck.

      • Kate 09:20 on 2021-05-13 Permalink | Reply  

        Vaccinations without appointment are now available at the Palais des congrès, and are proving popular. They’re now available to people 25 and up; as of Friday, anyone 18 and over can go.

        • Kate 04:44 on 2021-05-13 Permalink | Reply  

          There’s a fire at St-Denis and Liège, in my neighbourhood. Guess who leapt out of bed woken by the smell of smoke and is now still full of adrenaline.

          Also remembered in time that I can’t just walk over to see what’s up because of the curfew.

          I’m grateful the fire dept. posts tweets of fires as they’re happening. Useful service.

          Update: The Journal has a report on the fire, which was in the building with the butcher shop on the northeast corner. While feeling for anyone who loses a living space in these times, I’m relieved it wasn’t the Quincaillerie Liège, the best hardware store I know.

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