Gas prices in Quebec

This is probably just another rant, one of thousands around about gas prices, and how outrageous they are, if that is what you guessed, then you are right, but there is a twist.  Last weekend, we went on a quick road trip to Ottawa ( from Montreal ) to visit some family.  That isn’t the purpose of this story, but what I wanted to flag down was the price difference of gas between there and here.

The price when we filled up in Ottawa on Friday evening was 1.229$/liter in Ottawa, and 1.329$/Liter in Montreal.  This is comparing suburb to suburb, and both the same company ( Esso in this particular case ).  Why are gas prices so much more expensive in Montreal?
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Student strike in Montreal

As many of you are aware, there have been massive protests with regards to students protesting the cost of an education in Quebec. Quebec has the lowest tuitions fees in all of Canada, about 1/3 of the costs in Ontario. Let me get the simple things out of the way first. Am I for a free education, of course(with some reservations), do I approve or even support these spoilt little brats in the methods HELL NO.

Montreal Students Striking on the Champlain Bridge
Students Tuesday morning halted Montreal-bound incoming traffic on the Champlain Bridge for more than an hour. They were protesting the Quebec government’s plan to hike tuition fees.

I think education is something that should be free, that everyone from every walk of life that are local residents and paying their taxes should be able to receive. I qualify this statement, to the extent, that paying for residents is one thing, as their tax money (in theory) goes back into the local economy (province, country, etc). We have some very well renowned schools, and offering free education to outsiders will rack up a bill we cannot afford.

My main issue against free education, is that it currently helps weed-out the perma-students. The people who just get degree after degree ( not furthering their education, just adding to it ) at the expense of the rest, or take extreme amounts of time to complete their degree because taking 4 classes is too hard and cuts into partying time.. Its not a sampler menu, where you should be able to pick up 5 different degrees, or take 10 years to do a 4 year program. I remember a guy I went to CEGEP with, he was in his 7th year at the school, on a 3 year program.

Back to the matter at hand. Something i really REALLY don’t understand with these student protests, is if you are trying to gain support from the masses, why upset them by complicating their lives. If you want the workforce to pay for your education, why stop them from being able to go to work? On Tuesday March 20th, they blocked the Champlain bridge trapping drivers on the bridge. The riot police had to be called in, and 97 fines were issued to the amount of 494$ each. 494$ is more than they want to raise tuition, what’s the point?

The one thing i don’t/can’t seem to understand, is why Quebec has some of the highest tax rates, where is all the money going, its not health care ( hospitals closing down, etc), its clearly not going to road repairs, and we can now say its not going to free education, where or where has our tax money gone.

Government and Politics and Corruption

Can one exist without the other?  It seems that all levels of government are subject to this.  I will refrain from mentioning other countries, as my own has its fair share of problems and scandals.

This morning, the news announced that the mayor of my humble little town is being investigated by the UPAC ( unité permanente d’anti-corruption, the anti-corruption squad), and that search warrants were being distributed to several interesting parties.

St-Constant City Hall, Robert J. Galbraith, The Gazette
St-Constant City Hall, Robert J. Galbraith, The Gazette

Here is a little backstory

In 2007, Quebec Superior Court removed Pepin and a slate of municipal councillors from office, for exceeding limits on campaign spending by some 40 per cent.

Read more:

Now this same mayor was re-elected in a by election in 2008, and then again in a general election in 2009 (don’t ask how, I didn’t vote for him).  This mayor has been throwing money at new projects like it would put out a fire or something.  Some of the projects make sense, and are needed to sustain the town that has grown in the past 10~15 years from a mere village with a couple thousand residents to the +25K residents we have now.

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Nobody questions the validity of some of the projects, i.e. a new arena, since the one we have is the oldest of the region and is probably costing more to keep running than to build a new one.   Or building a new library, if you’ve ever been to the St-Constant library, you’d understand in a heartbeat the need for one ( we wanted to donate some old, or previously read, English books since they don’t have any, and were told we would like to, but we don’t even have the room to store them ).  I digress, that’s the topic for another time.


The main problem, is the process in selecting the projects, the (lack) of propositions that, and some of the other projects that were approved ( and started ) that just don’t make sense.  The common motto seems to be to “revitalise” the city, and bring it forward.  I’m not against doing this, at a controlled pace, i.e. one that the city can afford.  There are a lot of new and young families in my town, part of the population turnover that is occurring.  I’m actually in favor of some of the projects, but 20 million for a new library building, when there was a proposal for just over 5 million for a better solution, or why not just expand the old one, it has the space ( tiny building on huge area ).  As for revitalising, how about some more kid friendly parks, or a public pool that isn’t older than I am, and that isn’t open only from 11 to 3pm weekdays only, instead of building a brand new shopping area stuck to a train station.

This mayor needs to go, and we need someone that can see the ideas, and implement them properly.  I know this is what everyone level of citizen wants from their government, its just a shame when the corruption hits so close to home sometimes.  I guess I am not a politician, I actually believed that an elected official would actually try to better the city they live in, the city that elected them to improve that same city, not just steal the city’s money for their own gain.

NYC: oh the noise

Last night was my first night in New York City, well since the last time I was here 6 years ago.  One thing that i had forgotten ( or maybe suppressed ) was the noise at night.  By choice, I bought my house in the suburbs of Montreal.  Close enough for travelling to and from work, but also far enough that at night, its quiet.  If/when i get up during the night, the only noises i hear, at my family breathing ( yes i have sensitive ears ), the air systems gentle hum, and maybe the dog shifting in his sleep ( he’s a big dog ).  This is the norm for me, quiet, peaceful, it’s what i was looking for when i bought my house, it’s what i enjoy.  I can’t say my area is busy normally, its a residential area.  I’m about 100 meters from one of the main arteries, but once business hours stop, so does most of the traffic ( at least the big trucks. ).  By 8 or 9 pm, there are still noises, but mostly engines, no honking, no police cars, no ambulances or fire engines, just some cars driving around.

So here i am last night, trying to sleep, unsuccessfully, with all the cars, the honking, the police cars, ambulances, etc.  Especially the garbage trucks at 2am.  Seriously, what’s the deal.  Here is to hoping that i get a good nights sleep tonight.  Now i know my tolerances for lack of sleep ( 3 hours a night for 9 days before i collapse, remember i have 3 young children ), but i am much more alert if i get my usual 6-8 hours.

Here’s to hoping sleep finds me easier tonight.

PIPA/SOPA: Stopped they must be; on this all depends.

Being Canadian, I have no senator, governor or anyone else to write to about stopping PIPA/SOPA.  All I have is my lonely blog and my free speech, so this is me showing my support.  SOPA/PIPA can and most likely mean the end for several of the “open” communities that we use around the web, including reddit.  What could be harmful about reddit you ask, it would appear the US government has issue with us the people having control over what is put up on the internet.  This is typical to what the US government believes, that they should control everything, and what they can’t control, they make illegal.

The internet is all about collaboration and sharing of information.  If we aren’t allowed to do that, they we are no better than the censoring countries that we have been condemning.  Please take a few moments and read the post that is linked below to get a little more information about what is going on, and show your support in any way possible.  If you are American, write to whoever you can write to, if you are not, show your support for those opposing this crime against progress.

blog.reddit — what’s new on reddit: Stopped they must be; on this all depends..

Randy Cunneyworth: The Habs new head coach

First, I would like to say congrats to Randy.  First, for being promoted to head coach for the Montreal Canadians, and second for having the guts to take over as head coach for the Montreal Canadians.  Unlike most hockey fans in Montreal, I have nothing against Jacques Martin.  As far as I am concerned, he wasn’t on the ice, so he isn’t the one that should be taking the blame for the poor performance of the team.  Did he pull off a herculean effort in winning with poor player performance by finding “magical” lineups, and such, probably not.  But until he is the one wearing the skates, and responsible for the poor ice presence, I will not be one to assign him ANY blame.  He is not the one that is always second on the puck, not picking up loose pucks, or picking up the loose man in front of the net, he has no blame for that.  Winning and losing has a lot to do with what happens ON THE ICE, not behind the bench.  Its that extra little bit of effort on a play that will capitalize on opportunities, or create opportunities where there weren’t any.

The coach is there to try to best utilize and co-ordinate the players to best direct their skills to victory.  By knowing the opposing team, and knowing your team, you can elaborate strategies, and discover weaknesses that you can use to your advantage and win the game.  However, if the players are playing like dung, then you could be the best coach in the world, and you’ll just have another losing streak, that’s it.   But that isn’t the way of the NHL,  in the NHL everyone blames the coach, because its unthinkable to have a multi-million dollar player who isn’t giving it his all.  Never blame the 6 million dollar a year cry baby that doesn’t like the pressure of this city or that.  You wanted to play professional sports, live up to that requirement.  You are being paid to play like an all-star, show us where that money is going.

Next, Montreal, what are we going to do.  Montreal is both the best and worst hockey city in the world.  You will NEVER find a more enthusiastic home town when it comes to hockey, but you will also never find one that will turn on a player/team as quickly as ours does.  Because hockey is beyond just the national pass time, it is our religion, some people take it too seriously, just like the religious crusades of medieval times, some people don’t have the common sense to know when calm down.  We have a history of taking good players, some with the potential of being great, and pressuring them into become nothing more then cones on the ice.  Let me ramble off a couple names just so you know I’m not making this stuff up….How about Latendresse, Ribeiro, John Leclerc, Micheal Ryder; do any of those names ring a bell.  There were players who were good, but have consistently performed better as soon as they took of the shirts of the “bleu blanc rouge”.  Why can’t we just support our team, and encourage them when they need it, and celebrate when they do.  The whole idea of a home crowd is to bring your team UP when they are down, and to ride the good times with them.

I would like to draw attention to a few things, this attack by Montreal’s french media about the new coach not being able to speak french.  First, what does it really matter, the coach needs to first and foremost speak to his players, right?  How many of those players are “pure” french speaking people who don’t understand anything but french?  His job is not to speak to the media, its to coach, and to try and win hockey games, the media can and usually is managed by PR.  Randy never said he wouldn’t learn french, he said he would do his best to learn it, in fact embracing it is almost a better word, so why attack him.  We’ve had “francophone” coaches for a long time now, do you know what we haven’t had in a long time, a freaking STANLEY CUP  victory party.

Quebec’s broken justice system

This week-end I almost feel over with the news that i received.  the reason for my reaction, was the complete and utter disgrace that our justice system has turned into.  I will explain to the best of my ability the situation, and let you be the judge.

A good friend of the family called my house on Friday in tears.  She had just received a telephone call from her EX’s parents ( the father of her 2 children ).  They feared that he was suicidal.  Not to sound mean or anything, but our concern wasn’t that he was suicidal, but that he was suicidal, AND had custody of the kids this week-end.  The first thing she did was to tell his parents to call the police with their suspicions.  If she had called, they would have simply assumed “crazy ex-wife” and not done anything, so having the call come from HIS parents, they should probably listen.  So they called the local police station, and were told, and I quote “There is nothing we can do, nothing has happened yet”.  The police didn’t even write down their ( or their son’s ) name, or information to follow up on.

This incident comes only a short few months, after her eldest child ( almost 7 years old ) told the mother ( our friend ) and the paternal grand-parents, that “daddy leaves us alone sometimes to go play poker at his friend’s house down the street” ( first, why does a 6 year old know anything about poker ).  Some context here, this guy ( the father ), also filled for bankruptcy this past summer due to gambling debts, so gambling for him is not a hobby, but a problem.  Our friend called the police at that, and was told, unless he is caught in the act, we can’t do anything.  She also called the social worker in charge of their custody case ( shared custody ), and was told the same thing, “If we don’t catch him in the act, there is no proof, and therefor nothing we can do”.  This to me seems sad, that we need outward signs of neglect just to initiate an investigation.

So what can be done?  If she goes to get her kids, she is at fault and the courts will award him full custody. If she keeps her kids at home, the courts find her guilty ( of breaking the shared custody ruling ) and awards custody to him.  If she leaves the kids with him, isn’t she putting them in danger?  I can maybe see the reason for the police not to trust the ex-wife, but why, when its his own parents, do they not take a minute and think….maybe we should at least go and talk to him, or have the social worker go and talk to him.

Considering the NUMEROUS cases of “we need proof”, being too late, I am surprised that they aren’t trying to be more pro-active.  Just take into consideration the case of Emmanuelle and Laurie Phaneuf.  Emmanuelle went to the police station to try and get help because he was beginning to act irrational, and the police told her “He hasn’t done anything yet, so there is nothing we can do.”

I can understand that the police are over-worked, under-staffed and under paid for the work they do.  They probably also have a lot of people who create false complaints ( angry ex’s trying to get revenge ).  But at some point shouldn’t it at least be investigated.  I would much rather have it turn out to be a false alarm, then for them to ignore, and it be the real deal.

When are we, as a people, going to stand up and say “that’s enough”.  We want our justice system fixed.  Enough with raising politicians salaries and benefits.  Use some of the money that the government is collecting, and help the people.  There is a great video going around the web from the “generation we“, that you should definitely take a look at.  That simply brings to light, that if we want change, we need to take the steps to put those changes into motion.

I leave you with a question,  do you think the police should “wait for proof” before even beginning to investigate?  Where do we draw the line of reasonable cause?

How I got tricked into coaching hockey

Most of you know that I’m a dad, and a very happy and proud one at that.  I love my children, and spending time with them.  When my oldest asked if he could play hockey this year, we said sure.  I would rather have him play sports than become a vegetable in front of a television or video game.  As most Canadians, hockey is part of life, part of growing up Canadian, and having him show interest on his own was testimony to that.  So we signed him up with the local league ( which for some reason is the most expensive city around, with the some of the least ice time available ), for him to start this past September.

Trying to be a good community citizen, I offered to help when the season started.  Figured I would get on the ice, and help teach these eager young kids how to skate, and why they should love this game that is for so many people a source of national pride.  Well, that first week, there were about as many parents on the ice, as kids.  Now, normally that isn’t much of an issue, but seeing as we had 50+ kids on the ice, that’s a lot of people.  Over the next couple weeks, parents began to dwindle, as they had no interest in being on the ice, they were only there because for 1 of two reasons.  First some parents were slightly over protective, and felt they needed to shadow their children, second some children wouldn’t get on the ice if their parents were there with them.  If I had wanted, this is where i would have exited stage left, but wanting to give back to the city and community i live in, i thought it responsible to offer my assistance.  I have played numerous years of hockey ( which is more than some of the wobbly parents can say, there were days i didn’t know who was more wobbly on their skates, the 4 year old who is just learning, or the parent ).  The director in charge, thanked me for my offer, and informed me that to be on the ice to help i needed my coaches cards ( which makes sense, they want people who understand how to teach kids on the ice ), so he signed me up for the course.

The course itself is a week-end, so it wasn’t a major commitment.  The course consists of 3 parts, an online module about respect ( i.e. how to handle situations ), a health section ( i.e. safety and first aid ), and an actual training aspect ( which included 3 hours of ice time ).  I now felt ready to ASSIST in the molding of these young hockey players.  My plan was to be an assistant this year ( if they were short ) and maybe next year be head coach, to be able to share my learning with those who are starting out.  Unfortunately for me, the administration had other ideas.

The city had registered about 13 people for the course, of which 6 actually went ( some had work conflicts, some never got confirmation,etc ).  So that now leaves us with 6 people holding cards ( Each team is REQUIRED to have someone with their cards at each and every game, otherwise you forfeit ). Of those 6, 3 wanted to coach, and 3 wanted to assist only.  Of those 3, 2 had never played hockey, and this was their “initiation” to kids hockey.  Guess where that leaves me, facing the sentence “If we have to ask you, will you actually do it?”.  Given that situation, I’m now the coach of my son’s team.  I’m happy that I have a couple of assistants, 2 of which were involved with the program last year, but didn’t want to get their cards ( that whole, if you want to be on the ice you need your cards, was a ruse to get people certified to be coach, as they were lacking coaches. )

I’m looking forward to seeing what this season has in store for us.

En ville sans voiture

OK, this post was meant to go out a couple weeks ago, but with some things came up, so its a little out of context, but I needed to get this out anyways.

I’m an avid supported of public transportation, yes it can definitely improve, but I still take it everyday of the week, and will continue doing so, until its not an option.  After reading that statement, you think you can probably predict what i’m going to say next, but you would be wrong.  The campaign held in Montreal known as “En ville sans voiture” that happens near the end of every September, is in my opinion, a HUGE waste of money.  don’t get me wrong, i’m not against closing down the street and making it pedestrian only, my complaint is in how they do it.

Either shut the street down permanently ( or for the summer ) or don’t do it at all.  This year, they shut down sections of the road ( only between intersections, between McGill, and Jeanne-Mance ( I think ).  They brought in crews to lay down sod, setup booths, etc.  All this between 9 something and 3 something ( I didn’t note specific times ).  How much money do you think this cost the city, and in turn the tax payers.

Either man up, and shut the street down from April to October, or don’t do it at all, and invest the money you would have spent on this event in improving public transportation, improving communication of eco-friendly programs  (which is essentially what the booths do anyways ).

So Mr. Tremblay, what’s it going to be?  Smarter more efficient use of the money, or grow some balls and shut the street down, and show commitment to being eco-minded.

Montreal is falling apart

I am proud to call myself a Canadian, and proud to be from Montreal ( but don’t tell anyone. ).  In the past couple of years, we have seen our proud and wonderful city begin to fall into ruin.  From overpasses falling down on the highway, to trains falling over on bridges to bridges being considered unsafe to drive on, to potholes the size of a VW beetle, how can we hope to attract tourists ( which means revenue ), respect and prestige that was once common place with Montreal.

People would come from all over the world to visit Montreal.  From the world class festivals ( Jazz, Just for Laughs, Francopholies, … ) to the historical areas ( Old Port, cathedrals, … ) to the social diversity present in our town. website domain names search .  But now, I can’t begin to imagine people will continue to see us as a destination spot, with so many “incidents” ( as the minister of transport calls them ) happening.  It all started with the overpass in Laval that fell and killed 5 people ( it even has its own wiki page ).  The city and the province are quick to blame everything on the “unique” climate condition we face here, but come on, there are other city’s provinces close by that have close enough conditions and they don’t have 2 tonnes of concrete landing on people, or cave like pot holes ( ) in the middle of a metropolitan city.

Not to deter the communities that receive relief funds after major storms/earthquakes I wonder at which point they will start refusing our aide/help thinking “If they can’t take care of their own city, how can they possibly help us”.  Personally, if i was someone in Haiti in charge of rebuilding roads, houses, structures i’m not sure i would want someone from Montreal helping out after the incidents spanning the past couple of years, to name a few incidents.

My question is what has the mayor of Montreal been doing with all the taxes, money from the provincial government, and tourist revenue?  It sure hasn’t been to take care of the beautiful city that was entrusted to him when he was elected mayor.  We have gone from first class destination to 3rd world war zone.  Our potholed covered roads are still in better condition that most war ravaged countries.

When will we wake and do something about it.  Its obvious with the scandals that have plagued this administration that they aren’t worthy of the trust we put in them, maybe its time to change a few things.

As far as I’m concerned, its going to continue to get a lot worse before it gets better, at least if we continue down the path we are going, “Critical” status reports obviously don’t matter to our government and administration, they don’t act upon them.  They put our lives at risk everyday because its inconvenient to do the things that actually matter.  For those of you who work near the festival area in montreal ( in/around Complexe desjardins ) I would have been ashamed to host the festivals with the road conditions.  you had constructions crews blocking the roads.  Instead of a light and festive atmosphere, you had dust, heavy equipment, and fencing to enjoy.  This was a massive fail for you Mr Tremblay, you have disrespected our great and wonderful city.  Shame on you.

a concerned citizen