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Observations from Montreal

“The affordability and climate crises are interrelated. We need to ask ourselves why Big Oil is never asked to pay their fair share.”

An ever-changing collection of commentary by Montrealers or about Montreal politics and culture.

Observations from Montreal

“Will you make more than $250,000 this year selling your cottage or investment property? No? Great! The federal budget’s new capital gains tax won’t affect you. Economists argue it makes for a more equitable and efficient tax system. While libertarian lobbyists try to intimidate the public, what ought to scare us is how little Big Oil pays in taxes, especially considering their record profits and the public cost of fossil fuels. The affordability and climate crises are interrelated. We need to ask ourselves why they’re never asked to pay their fair share.”

Taylor C. Noakes, April 18, 2024


“The fear-mongering about referendums continues. Less than two weeks after the ‘decline of French’ myth was debunked, we’re subjected to more culture wars from our public officials. Imagine how great this province could be if our politicians remained focused on issues that actually improved our collective well-being. Just 1 in 3 Quebecers support separation — Alberta and Saskatchewan currently have more anti-Canadian sentiment than Quebec. Don’t let Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, or any politician for that matter, fool you into believing sovereignty is any more popular now than it was a decade ago.”

April 15, 2024


“François Legault threatening Justin Trudeau with a referendum on immigration is pure political theatre. It’s a distraction from low poll numbers and a shield against PQ attacks, positioning Legault as someone fighting back against something he can’t control — only, Quebec has considerable immigration powers, far more than any other Canadian province. 

“The success of an immigration referendum threat essentially relies on Quebecers’ lack of knowledge of pre-approvals and of the deals Quebec struck with Ottawa to radically raise numbers of temporary migrant workers. A referendum threat is a blustery move made in bad faith.”

Toula Drimonis, April 10, 2024


“Without a doubt, the findings from the new OQLF study further call into question the passing of Bill 96, a bill based more on cruelty than actually promoting French, and implemented under the false pretence that the public use of French was under threat. Despite the CAQ’s unhinged obsession with making everyone believe that French is in decline, this latest report ironically shows a decline of English in Quebec — not French — and is more proof that Bill 96 was passed using misinformation instead of facts. During the same time period that sensationalist tabloid media reports treated isolated incidents of ‘inadequate French’ as commonplace, the public use of French in Montreal actually increased.

“No matter where you stand politically, this type of leadership — which leans more on fear-mongering than creating a society where our quality of life increases, not decreases — is unacceptable, and intentionally causes division instead of unity. Life’s too short and we all deserve better.”

April 9, 2024


“A new report by the OQLF has confirmed that French is NOT in decline in Quebec. In fact, the use of English in public spaces has decreased since 2016, from 11% to 8%. The Legault government continues to fear-monger about the ‘decline of French’ in order to divide Quebecers, justify the passing of Bill 96 and distract from real issues. A reminder to François Legault: Your approval rating is at an all-time low of 29%, with satisfaction below 30% in healthcare, housing affordability and the cost of living. Time to focus on real issues.”

April 4, 2024


“Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s the bigger idiot: the politician campaigning against a program that benefits the majority, or the majority prepared to torpedo a program they benefit from. The carbon tax is an effective system that cuts emissions and air pollution and puts money back in Canadians’ pockets. Despite this, Pierre Poilievre has bullied the public through social media manipulation into abandoning something all evidence shows is working. Poilievre’s axed the facts, and Canada’s ready to elect him because of a dumb slogan, brought to you by Big Oil and their friends in Ottawa.”

Taylor C. Noakes, March 29, 2024


“Calling in noise complaints against music venues and bars from your condo next to a major commercial street full of music venues and bars is classic bourgeois Montreal arrogance. Maybe the city should fine people who harass cultural and nightlife hubs in Montreal instead of sending inspectors on behalf of these petty drama queens paying overpriced rent to issue threats to the kinds of businesses that helped make those neighbourhoods cool in the first place.”

March 22, 2024


“It’s disconcerting to see many online comments (even from PQ partisans, oddly enough) mocking Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon’s tearful reaction to receiving death threats. Politics aside, PSPP is a human being, a husband and the father of three young children. Being visibly shaken by threats to his family’s safety doesn’t in any way undermine his ability to lead a party (or the province, should that day come). Those insinuating that it does have bought into a toxic definition of masculinity that equates legitimate emotions and fear with weakness and fragility. It’s also a deplorable lack of empathy.”

Toula Drimonis, March 19, 2024


“François Legault needs to pick a lane on immigration. Is Quebec welcoming, or threatened by refugees? Stating that migrants are a threat to Quebec’s language and identity is bigotry. Legault has built his political career off the backs of immigrants and refugees — by constantly implying that they won’t integrate into Québécois society. But the problem isn’t their inability to integrate, it’s that it’s not politically expedient for Legault to give them a chance. If he wants the francophone population to grow, he needs to be open to different forms of immigration, not just the kind ultranationalists prefer. And if we need nurses, teachers and more French speakers, why not train the migrants? The fact that our premier seems to believe that Justin Trudeau has the power to unilaterally grant Quebec control over immigration without discussing this constitutional issue with other provinces demonstrates Legault’s political immaturity.”

Taylor C. Noakes, March 16, 2024


“Ending the affordable housing requirement for new construction is myopic. Developers already opt out of building affordable housing, now the City of Montreal has given them another way to weasel out of social responsibility. The housing crisis is not just a supply problem: it’s the consequence of an unregulated market at a time when developers will always favour building luxury condo towers downtown. Housing czar Benoit Dorais facilitated this deregulation by emphatically stating that Montreal will remain affordable. $1,500 for a 1 1/2 isn’t anyone’s idea of affordable.”

Taylor C. Noakes, March 15, 2024


“Montreal deserves an explanation for why Just for Laughs is cancelled this year. Groupe Juste pour rire is co-owned by Bell Canada and Groupe CH (the Canadiens etc) — surely companies of that magnitude could pitch in to keep a world-class festival afloat? And why was the mayor’s response to the cancellation of such a flagship event for the city so underwhelming? This is not something you just shrug off, and I’d argue that the artists who owe their careers to JFL could also step up to save the festival. Why aren’t other solutions being explored?”

An excerpt from the editorial “The cancellation of Just for Laughs doesn’t make sense and Montrealers deserve answers” by Taylor C. Noakes


“While most Quebecers of all ethnic origins get along just fine, I fail to see why Jean-François Lisée and other ethnonationalists are now ‘shocked’ that some young Quebecers may not be readily identifying as such. Day in and day out, these young Quebecers from immigrant backgrounds are exposed to the stunted and recriminatory rhetoric of certain politicians and pundits (including the current CAQ government) who routinely treat Quebec’s cultural, religious and linguistic minorities as a problem and a threat — and their mere presence as an ‘existential crisis.’ They’re now suddenly surprised that this constant ‘othering’ and reprimanding may have backfired, and that some young Quebecers refuse — or occasionally may even resent — attempts to fit into the narrow confines of an increasingly limited, insular and parochial definition of what it means to be a Quebecer? Why?”

Toula Drimonis, Feb. 26, 2024


“François Legault’s tuition increase for out-of-province students has nothing to do with preserving the French language in Quebec. It’s a petty attack on a beleaguered minority’s institutions, and on Montreal as a whole. This is shortsighted, mean-spirited, completely idiotic from an economic vantage point and just more evidence that he’s unfit to govern. It’s the whole province, not only the anglophone community, that will suffer the consequences.”

An excerpt from the editorial “CAQ vs. English universities: François Legault’s specialty is cutting Quebec off at the knees” by Taylor C. Naokes


“Bill 31 will have a devastating impact on thousands of independent artists in Montreal who have made this city a beacon for innovation. François Legault is trying to remodel Quebec by demolishing the progressive wins of Québécois social movements in the past. This attack on housing rights is part of the process. The CAQ continues to play up a white nationalist version of Québécois identity that targets immigrants, while enacting policies in tune with the economic vultures of Bay Street and Wall Street. This government is a danger to our collective wellbeing.”

An excerpt from the editorial “The CAQ is attacking artists by ending lease transfers, and artists need to step up” by Stefan Christoff


“The premier with the lowest approval rating in Canada is still complaining about hearing English in a province where 94% of people can speak French. Earlier today, François Legault inadvertently used the word ‘cool’ when he was criticizing the use of English words by francophone kids in Quebec. This is of course a priority for the CAQ during a housing and affordability crisis, not to mention the state of healthcare in our province. You really can’t make up how pathetic this all is.”

Feb. 8, 2024


“It’s not immigrants and students that are fuelling the housing crisis in Montreal, it’s 4,000+ Airbnb listings and outrageous legislation like Bill 31. In a city already struggling with slumlords and renovictions, Quebec has abandoned the ‘renters rights’ ethos that had kept Montreal affordable for many generations by ending lease transfers. Meanwhile, Airbnb amplifies and exacerbates all of Montreal’s pre-existing housing problems, pushing out local residents and the communities they support. It’s gentrification on top of gentrification, like a cancer eating away at Montreal from within — destroying the city that tourists came to see in the first place.”

An excerpt from the editorial “It’s time to ban Airbnb in Montreal” by Taylor C. Noakes


“With approvals now below 20% in healthcare, the cost of living, education and housing affordability, the CAQ decided to begin 2024 distracting from real issues once again by attacking signage in the province, saying that ‘seeing too much English and other languages on signs bothers all Quebecers.’ As part of Bill 96 — which is opposed by two-thirds of Montrealers — businesses with public signs featuring less than twice as much French than other languages will be fined up to $30,000 as of June 2025. A pathetic start to the year from the government sitting in last place.”

Jan. 14, 2024


“The Quebec Liberal Party needs a leader who will fight for the rights of ALL Quebecers if they want to be considered a serious party again. This would prove to be smart politically, considering the QLP typically does well when the party polls strongly among anglophones and allophones — something that changed significantly during Dominique Anglade’s time as leader. Currently, just 44% of non-francophones say they would vote for the Liberals, a percentage that has not increased since the 2022 Quebec election. That number used to be 80%. As more leadership contenders emerge, uniting Quebecers outside of the CAQ’s base should be priority number one.”

Jan. 12, 2024


“I have no issue with Denis Coderre wanting to wedge his way into yet another level of our government and run the Quebec Liberal Party — as long as his top priorities are to fully repeal Bills 21 and 96, as well as the anglo university tuition hike. I’d also like him to sack Michael Sabia before he privatizes Hydro-Québec. If he runs on all that, and then actually does it as premier, he can have his damn baseball team.”

Jan. 11, 2024


“As 2024 begins, the CAQ will have to reassess what kind of government it wants to be and what it chooses to focus on. Quebecers, in turn, will have to do the same. Do they want provincial leadership that’s hopelessly mired in culture wars and lazy vote-pandering, hellbent on dividing and alienating Quebecers, or do they want a more inclusive and confident Quebec that can buckle down to tackle the real challenges the province is facing, unencumbered by the grievances of the past? The latter could foster the kind of solidarity that would make for a better Quebec.”

An excerpt from the editorial “2023: A year of drama and division for Montreal and beyond” by Toula Drimonis


“François Legault’s approval rating is the worst in Canada. The CAQ has approvals below 35% in healthcare, housing affordability, the cost of living and education. 565K public sector workers remain without a deal, with strikes expected to expand after the holidays. Fear-mongering about the ‘decline of French’ continues even though 94% of Quebecers can speak the language. And despite numerous hints to start unifying the province, the CAQ and Quebec’s most funded media chose to criticize an editorial calling them out on their division. Where are the adults in the room?”

Dec. 22, 2023


“Bills 21 and 96 were bad enough, but without sufficient pushback from the federal government or mayor of Montreal, it was only a matter of time before Legault and his merry band of hate-mongers would go for the jugular with a stunt like this. No matter what politicians say, the French language is not threatened in Quebec. This is cesspool politics meant to distract from real issues. For shame — it’s the whole province, not only the anglophone community, that will suffer the consequences.”

An excerpt from the editorial “CAQ vs. English universities: François Legault’s specialty is cutting Quebec off at the knees” by Taylor C. Naokes


“The Legault government is insistent on seeing ‘outsiders’ as a threat to Quebec society, when in fact it could be the exact opposite. The CAQ’s rhetoric regarding non-francophones is highly counter-productive and divisive, and their comments are said with such disdain and contempt. The students coming to Montreal are real people with real dreams and aspirations. Instead of saying, ‘Oh, we’d like it if you spoke French more,’ they’re actually using the word ‘threat.’ It’s a horrible way to view fellow citizens.”

An excerpt from our interview with Dr. Sarah Dorner by Toula Drimonis


“This has nothing to do with protecting French in Quebec. François Legault may present himself as defender of Quebec’s culture, society and language, but he does so in a manner no different from the Catholic Church that held the province captive throughout la Grande Noirceur. Rather than reward or encourage the preservation and promotion of French, our premier comes up with new ways to penalize and handicap the anglophone minority. These are not the actions of enlightened leaders, but of reactionary thugs — and just more evidence that cruelty really is the point.”

An excerpt from the editorial “CAQ vs. English universities: François Legault’s specialty is cutting Quebec off at the knees” by Taylor C. Naokes


“I didn’t vote for Legault and the CAQ. I would never vote for them. He’s a populist, he’s just going for whatever the polls tell him he will win. I don’t take as much interest in politics as I used to, because I’m so disappointed with Quebec politics right now. I’m 100% pushing for French. But we shouldn’t push people away, and part of what makes Montreal unique is that we have both French and English here. We have gotten along so well, but the government is trying to divide people. Of course we have to protect French, but we can do so without getting rid of other people. It’s like protecting the trees by getting rid of the flowers; to me it makes no sense.”

An excerpt from our interview with Mado Lamotte by Matthew Hays


“Within the last two days, François Legault received his all-time lowest approval rating and the CAQ had their worst poll result since 2017, all while they continue to shortchange education and healthcare workers. The Front Commun has rejected the Quebec government’s latest offer of 12.7% over 5 years, citing inflation projections of 18.1%. This means that the strike from Dec. 8 to 14 is going ahead. How long is the Legault government prepared to let Quebecers suffer?”

Dec. 6, 2023


“Just one day after receiving his all-time lowest approval rating, François Legault meets with Pierre Karl Péladeau, the president and CEO of the Quebecor media empire, to discuss ‘the future of media.’ Incidentally, Quebecor receives tens of millions of dollars in grant funding every year — part of which funds the divisive anti-immigrant, anti-Montreal, anti-‘woke’ columnists in the JdeM that seem to feed off CAQ policies, or vice versa — and a very significant portion of the Quebec government’s advertising budget. Surely, I can’t be the only person to recognize the sketchiness of the timing of this meeting? Perhaps Legault was consulting PKP about how to hatemonger his way back up the polls.”

Dec. 5, 2023


“You know you’re doing a terrible job running your province when you make even Doug Ford look good. Hopefully Legault’s new 31% approval rating — the lowest in Canada — will be a wake-up call for the CAQ to start prioritizing the issues Quebecers care about the most: healthcare, education, housing affordability and the cost of living. Start leading by uniting, instead of dividing.”

Dec. 4, 2023


“What did Elon Musk think was going to happen? Dude, people used to respect you until you turned Twitter into a cesspool of misinformation, where incels and racists are rewarded for engagement. Of course no one wants to advertise on your platform.”

Nov. 29, 2023


“At what point will CAQ apologists admit that Bill 21 is even partially to blame for rising levels of prejudice against certain minority groups in Quebec? When studies find that ‘Quebecers show a unique aversion to the Jewish kippa not noted elsewhere in the country’ or that feelings of Islamophobia are found in 52% of people in the province, you cannot simply ignore the harm that this bill is doing to those who wear religious symbols. There is a big difference between believing in a secular society and despising certain religions to the point where you think people should have basic human rights taken away. Quebec being a ‘société distincte’ should not be used as justification for lacking empathy for minority groups.”

Nov. 16, 2023


“The Quebec government is spending $7-million to bring the L.A. Kings to Quebec City for 2 games next year when the Habs had offered to play there without government subsidies. This was announced today by the same finance minister who says we have to tighten our belts over the next year, by the same government that prioritized giving themselves a $30K raise over negotiating with the healthcare workers, teachers, school staff and school bus drivers who are about to step up their strike. Bravo CAQ, another pathetic display of blatant hypocrisy.”

Nov. 14, 2023


“François Legault gave the OQLF more power to punish businesses with massive fines and repeat inspections via Bill 96, and this bullying is what’s led to Ye Olde Orchard renaming itself ‘Maison Publique Orchard’ — as if anyone is going to stop calling it Ye Olde Orchard. (Incidentally, Old Orchard is just a street in NDG, so is this all about the ‘Ye’?) I’m sure undercutting the anglo community pleases the radical anti-anglo base the CAQ is pandering to with their populist fear-mongering about the ‘decline of French’ — when 94% of people in this province can speak French.”

Nov. 10, 2023


“Proving once again that François Legault has no interest in actually increasing the knowledge of French among anglo university students, nor of encouraging their integration into Quebec society, the CAQ has rejected McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s ‘unprecedented’ offer to implement mandatory French classes in lieu of tuition hikes. The rejection of this offer, which would have been far more effective than almost all of Bill 96, is more evidence that Legault’s original intention was not to get results, but to divide. It’s all about the optics of Quebec nationalism and his own legacy. How utterly vile.”

Nov. 7, 2023


“No matter where you stand on Quebec politics right now, it’s plain to see that the timing of Premier Legault’s tweet this morning, bragging about Quebec’s supposed soon-to-be ‘booming economy,’ as 420K healthcare and education workers strike, is — at the very least — bad optics. This is yet another example of the CAQ’s total lack of empathy towards the lived realities of the labour force.”

Nov. 6, 2023


“With the school bus strike affecting all English schools boards on the island of Montreal, families that are already struggling will plummet further into poverty. Transco is a massive bedrock for English education in Montreal — not dealing with the bus drivers was an easy assault on the English community. François Legault just didn’t bother to engage with the public sector. The CAQ’s preference was to distract the public with incendiary French-language talk instead of negotiating with unions to keep basic societal needs like hospitals and schools functioning. And now, 400,000 public sector workers will be striking the morning of Nov. 6. Legault has been trying to run Quebec like a company, but that business is crashing and burning and he is just a bully in the ashes.”

Nov. 3, 2023


“We end this week knowing that the #1 choice for premier in Quebec is also the guy who successfully goaded the most progressive party leader in the province to say the N-word during a televised debate last year. Just normal everyday politician stuff. Have a great weekend, everyone!”

Nov. 3, 2023


“Should there not be any accountability when a company like Quebecor, which receives tens of millions of dollars in grant funding every year — not to mention a very large portion of the Quebec government’s advertising budget — lays off hundreds of people? The jobs of those at the top, who’ve clearly mismanaged these funds for years, are of course safe from the cutbacks. This doesn’t seem right.”

Nov. 2, 2023


“The hypocrisy of self-proclaimed ‘anti-woke’ crusaders complaining about Trudeau’s son’s Halloween costume is laughable. Had either of Pierre Poilievre’s kids done the same for their Halloween costume, these people would be the first to lash out against any criticism and political correctness, saying that we should ‘let kids be kids.’ These are also the same fragile people who complained when Trudeau and his son went to see the Barbie movie.”

Nov. 1, 2023


“Criticizing the Quebec government and calling out racism is not ‘Quebec bashing’ — this overused line, similar to people who label anything they don’t like as ‘woke,’ needs to be reinterpreted and used more carefully. But going forward, I would like to urge François Legault and the CAQ to practise empathy on a level we haven’t seen for years in this province. A compassionate government does not need to fear-monger about issues that a large majority don’t think are a priority, when most are more concerned about the cost of living, healthcare and a detrimental housing crisis. At a time when 94% of Quebecers can speak French, all Quebecers should be made to feel like they are welcome and treated equally, no matter their mother tongue or language they speak most often at home. It’s time for positive politics in Quebec.”

Oct. 27, 2023


“Roughly 70% of PPC supporters from 2021 now support the Conservatives, according to a new study by ARI. The incel appeal is strong with Pierre Poilievre, whose popularity is highest among the least educated in Canada, and those who live in rural areas.”

Oct. 24, 2023


“Have you noticed how fear-mongering about the so-called ‘decline of French in Quebec’ always comes with a pathetic throw-away line about how Quebec is ‘the only French nation in the Americas,’ as though that means anything at all? Some advice to people who think saying this proves your point: It doesn’t. Your rights are not reduced as a francophone in Quebec because you live in a continent that is primarily not French. All this shows is that you’re willing to use arbitrary facts about nothing to try to justify the fear-mongering you’ve already bought into.”

Oct. 23, 2023


“This government posts about the ‘decline of French in Quebec’ multiple times per week, ever since two employees at Uniqlo and Victoria’s Secret downtown had difficulty serving secret shoppers in French three years ago. This is not the reality for 94% of the population, but of course, the fear-mongering works. It’s almost like an inflammatory Journal de Montréal exposé led directly to Bill 96.”

Oct. 20, 2023


“It must really piss off Valérie Plante to see François Legault actively trying to sabotage Montreal. Not only do a minority of Montrealers support Bill 96 and Bill 21, but Plante acknowledged the existence of systemic racism in 2020, while Legault still has not. And with this latest move against English universities, Legault is trying to derail Montreal’s economy and international reputation, as well.”

Oct. 19, 2023


“What the Quebec government is doing with out-of-province tuition fees is purely vindictive, designed to do nothing but shrink enrolment in English-language universities and harm their reputations within Canada. By extension, when the reputations of Concordia, McGill and Bishop’s are harmed, so too are the reputations of all Quebec universities.”

Oct. 17, 2023


“We live in a time when studies that show evidence of serious disinformation campaigns being pushed by Conservatives are ultimately discredited and labelled as disinformation by that same group spreading the disinformation in the first place.”

Oct. 17, 2023


“Climate change is real. Anyone that cannot understand that basic scientific fact is not worth your time.”

Oct. 17, 2023


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