www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WAL3ErtHb0Nov 9, 2012 - 3 min - Uploaded by themontrealgazette
Gilles Vaillancourt, Laval's mayor since 1989, resigned from office at city hall in the face of allegations of ...
From the Grand Bibliotehque
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When last I reported from north of the border, the province was in the final week of an election which, as it turns out, produced a minority government for Quebec separatist party (54 to 50 with 19 votes for the third party and one or two for the fourth party). On the evening of the PQ victory, an English speaker from a few hours north of Montreal showed up at the victory rally and shot someone to death.
Back the college students were marching in the streets for lower tuition rates.
Fast forward two and a half months. The PQ has just submitted its budget (including a 25 percent tax hike on beer and wine sold in restaurants and bars--hey I hope I’m not giving Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire Democrats any crazy ideas).
College students are still marching in the streets of Montreal. This time, they don’t want to pay any tuition at all. Education should be a natural right...and it should come free of charge, they say. What’s the old line about give them an inch and they’ll take a yard. Well, at least they won’t be taking any more beer or wine...not without paying 25 percent more in taxes at least. Entrepreneurs are furious because the tax hike is retroactive to stock on hand.
I’ve always wondered why beer is so expensive in Quebec (yes, I do indulge a bit up here...in fact; it’s the only place I drink at all!). I read in the Gazette that the tax is now 82 cents on a liter (quart) of beer; $2.47 on a liter of wine.
Gas is $1.39 a liter (about $5.50 a gallon); the highest in Canada but relief may be in sight. Separatist Premier Pauline Marois is striking a deal with the Alberta premier (also a woman) to have oil from the rich oil sands diverting here (rather than to China) for refining. That makes sense.
Silliness and high drama pervades the political scene here.
The silliness involves whether or not to keep the Canadian flag in a committee room (the red room) of the Quebec legislature or go with just the Quebec flag as is the case in the main room (the blue room). Believe it or not, a vote is actually likely on this burning issue next week with the 14 third party members holding the key to the flag.
On a serious note, the Montreal area is in the midst of a major construction kickback scandal. The city’s mayor just resigned and was replaced by Michael Appelbaum who actually left his party after failing to win its endorsement and won a majority on the City Council by promising to share power with all parties (take note, New Hampshire Legislature).
It’s even worse in Laval. A new mayor (Duplessis--ah yes, a French name) was voted in by the council after the mayor of 23 years resigned after being accused of taking a 2.5 percent kickback on every contract bid out in that city. If I told you the name of the disgraced mayor, you would immediately know it’s very French indeed.
I would also feel compelled to add quickly (as I did when I showed my driver’s license to get this computer pass at the library)...no relation...at least, I hope not.
Having just resigned in disgrace as Mayor of Laval was Gilles Vaillancourt...yes, same spelling.
Then there’s a bit which falls somewhere in between silly and serious. Justin Trudeau, Minister of Parliament in Ottawa (he represents the part of Montreal very near where I’m sitting now) and son of the famous Pierre Elliot, had to apologize today for saying that Canada would be better off if Quebecers (presumably himself) rather than Albertans were running the country. He says it wasn’t intended as a slur to Albertans, merely to Prime Minister Steven Harper who is off in China.
That’s enough fun for one session. If I can find an extra 17 cents, I think I’ll try some of that more expensive beer.