Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney talk about Ye (formerly Kanye West)’s recent anti-Semitic and other outbursts, the PQ being barred from the National Assembly for refusing to swear allegiance to King Charles III and Montreal settling a class action protest lawsuit for $3.1 Million.

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Potentially hundreds of protesters detained and/or arrested by Montreal Police (SPVM) in violation of their rights at eight protests between 2012 and 2014 are entitled to a share of the $3.1 million settlement the City of Montreal reached with lawyers in a class action lawsuit. The city will also post an apology on their website.

The SPVM started kettling protesters (surrounding then detaining them) as a routine tactic in 2012 when the city added a clause demanding protesters provide a route to Municipal Bylaw P-6 under Gerald Tremblay’s administration at the height of the student protests. The clause was struck down by the courts in 2018 then taken off the books by Valérie Plante’s administration in 2019.

Protests covered by this settlement include anti-police brutality marches and the anniversary of the start of the student strike protest.

This agreement, which still needs to be approved by the Quebec Court of Appeals on December 21st, means that anyone who was detained and/or arrested by the SPVM at the following protests could be entitled to financial compensation:

  • June 7, 2012 at around 6 p.m., on Notre-Dame Street, between des Seigneurs and Richmond
  • March 15, 2013, on Sainte-Catherine Street, between Sainte-Élizabeth and Sanguinet Street, from around 5:45pm
  • March 15, 2013, on Sainte-Catherine Street, between Sanguinet and Saint- Denis Street, from around 6:30pm
  • March 22, 2013, on De Maisonneuve Boulevard, between Saint-André and Saint-Timothée Street, from around 6:20pm
  • March 22, 2013, on Saint-Timothée Street, near the intersection with De Maisonneuve Boulevard, from around 6:15pm
  • April 5, 2013, on De Maisonneuve boulevard, between Berri and St-Hubert Street around 6:35pm
  • May 1, 2013, on Place Royal, at the corner of de la Commune Ouest around 7:15pm
  • March 15, 2014, on Chateaubriand Street, between Jean- Talon and Bélanger Street around 3:20pm

Featured Image of a police kettle at the 2015 Anti-Police Brutality March by Cem Ertekin

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney on Montreal seniors getting free public transit as of July 23, 2022, new child medicine and free flu shots coming to Canada and recent testimony at the Emergencies Act Inquiry. Plus comments on the two mass shootings in the US last week.

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Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss bizarre comments from FIFA president Gianni Infantino defending holding the World Cup in Qatar, the politics of letting oppressive regimes host huge global events, Twitter falling apart, Trump running for President and other reasons the world is on fire.

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Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the near-routing of Trump-backed candidates in the US Midterm Elections, Elon Musk’s week of struggling to run Twitter, police in Mascouche, Quebec tazing an 18-year-old non-verbal autistic man and Daylight Savings versus Standard Time.

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Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Doug Ford’s use of the Notwithstanding Clause against striking teachers and Justin Trudeau’s plan to fight it, Elon Musk firing half of Twitter’s staff and potentially destroying the company and ongoing Iran protests juxtaposed with potential Powerball winnings.

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Jason’s Op-Ed on Musk’s Blue Checkmark Charge / The Outside World (the radio drama mentioned)

When I heard that Elon Musk, the new gatekeeper of the town square that is Twitter, was floating the idea of charging users a monthly fee to have their profile verified with a blue checkmark, I decided it was the perfect time to get a checkmark on my own account. Then I could properly get all indignant when Elon tried to charge me for it.

The thing is, I wasn’t able to. It’s not just about proving you are who you say you are, but that who you say you are meets their notability and/or following on the platform requirements. I also tried to get this site’s account verified, and while we do have the following and the legitimacy, no one’s created a Wikipedia article on us (hint, hint…I can’t do it myself), so it’s presently a no-go.

Oh well…back to Musk’s exchange with Stephen King, the one where the author said he wouldn’t pay $20 a month for a blue checkmark on principle and the new Twitter owner tried to talk him down to $8. I found something in his second reply quite interesting:

“It is the only way to eliminate the bots & trolls.”

Wait! What? How many bots and trolls does he think have blue checkmarks currently? Seeing as I couldn’t get one, I doubt very much that a bot could.

Then I read that Musk claims that he wants to get rid of the “lords and peasants” system that he thinks Twitter currently has and plans to offer “half as many ads” and “priority in replies, mentions & search” to verified users, which will probably be better referred to as subscribers going forward. Now the plan is becoming clear.

It’s not about shaking down Stephen King, William Shatner and other celebrities for $8 a month (though it would be hilarious if that was the case). It’s also not about leveling the playing field as Musk’s lords and peasants comment would suggest.

While I’m sure that the current eligibility requirements for Twitter verification will be replaced with something more simple like proving your identity and providing a payment method, allowing pretty much anyone who can afford it to get a blue checkmark, this isn’t opening any doors or leveling the playing field one bit. Instead, it’s using the cloak of a symbol of importance to mask the transition of Twitter into a paid subscription service.

If this is the “only way to eliminate the bots” then it stands to reason that any account that doesn’t opt to pay for the “verification” will be treated like a bot. The focus on celebrity reaction has masked what’s really happening.

If Twitter is the town square, then Elon Musk is charging cover to the town square. Though it may not be the town square for much longer.

Some will leave. Others will wait and see. And some will get the blue checkmark subscription because they feel they have to. Musk has essentially devalued a feature and put a price tag on it at the same time.

Maybe he hopes Twitter will turn into some sort of niche subscription service with significantly fewer users than before but who now pay. That could explain his reported plan to lay off half the company’s workforce tomorrow.

Or maybe he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Which could explain why he’s reportedly ending the company’s work from anywhere policy. Forcing employees of a company with no physical products to work from the office.

Either way, maybe we should treat our digital town square as a public service rather than a for-profit business subject to the whims of a billionaire like Musk who gets duped into buying it.

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney welcome Special Guest Holly Rhiannon and discuss all things Halloween: the paranormal and the commercial, for the kids or for everyone, how to celebrate in Montreal and more! Plus we’re in costumes.

Follow Holly Rhiannon @stygianpen on most social platforms and on YouTube @Haunted Montreal | Montréal Hanté & @Holly Rhiannon (writer channel)

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Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss US President Joe Biden pardoning all people federally convicted of possessing marijuana, the 2022 Quebec Election results and the Legault Government secretly hiring McKinsey, a private consulting firm, to run its pandemic response.

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It’s the aftermath of the 2022 Quebec Election and like many people of colour in Quebec, I am in mourning.

I am in mourning because the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) led by François Legault, whose administration over the past five years has been characterized by a rise in hate crimes, the passing of Bills 21 and 96, legislation meant to alienate hardworking Quebeckers for what they wear, how they live, and what language they speak, won a majority in the National Assembly. I am in mourning because a faulty riding system gave rural Quebeckers terrified of non-white, non-Christian, non-French-speaking Quebecois greater representation than the majority of the province’s population. I pity those same voters for failing to see Legault’s race baiting and the similarities between his administration and that of Quebec’s hated past Premier, Maurice Duplessis.

Like Duplessis, Legault repeatedly covers his mistakes and unfulfilled promises by making false claims that non-French speakers and visible minorities are the real threat to Quebec society. Like Duplessis, Legault’s actions are fervently anti-union, behavior that has driven thousands out of the healthcare and teaching professions. His anti-immigration rhetoric has exacerbated an ongoing labour shortage that has business owners in the service, manufacturing, and import-export industries begging the government to admit more people annually.

I grieve because Legault’s refusal to acknowledge systemic racism has been widely interpreted by the worst members of society as permission to discriminate and engage in acts of violence, and resulted in the deaths of people like Joyce Echequan.

As the hate crimes increase, Legault is actively engaging in indoctrination, forcing schools to teach values and history lessons that ignore the contributions of Jews and other groups that have been in Quebec just as long as the French have, if not longer. He changed the political culture by his blatant use of the Notwithstanding Clause in the Canadian Constitution, when it used to be considered a frowned upon last resort.

All the while, his government has been passively undermining the safety and voting power of people under the age of 60. During the pandemic he actively denied access to the vaccine to chronically ill people under 60 who were just as susceptible to COVID as perfectly healthy baby boomers, shifting gears only when public outrage forced his hand. During the election The Coalition Avenir du Québec made no attempt to court young voters because studies showed that those who vote don’t vote for them.

Though the aftermath has me fearing for my own safety, it is not for myself and other Quebec minorities that I grieve for most. It is for the white Francophone Quebecois who said they would not vote for Legault. The ones from Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Montreal, and small towns in Quebec who refused to buy into the Coalition Avenir du Quebec’s rhetoric, coming forward to say bigotry is not something to be proud of, and backed it up with their votes. Many of these voters have confided in me that they are quietly waiting for the baby boomers to die off, convinced that the electoral system that led to a CAQ majority will not accommodate and respect their needs.

I have always said that a revolution must begin inside and outside the political system. The time to try and make a difference inside the system passed with this election. It is time to fight back from outside of it.

It will not be easy, but there are ways around National Assembly seats and dictatorial leaders out of touch with reality. I’m not just talking about protests and marches. I encourage business leaders hurt by the government’s immigration policies to find a way to sue them for loss of profits.

Social media campaigns to dig up every little harm or illegal dealing by Legault and his government should start immediately so the world can see them for the xenophobes and crooks that they are. Young people should be writing letters, protesting, and demanding changes to a political system that is repeatedly leaving them behind.

Most importantly, we the people need to unite with our French Canadian allies and show the world that the CAQ does not represent the majority of Quebeckers. Diversity is strength, and bigotry brings only shame and economic adversity.

The fight is only over when WE say it is.

No more turning the other cheek.

Drawing by Samantha Gold @samiamart on Facebook & @samiamartistmtl on Instagram

Well, that was…something. The 2022 Quebec Election is over and the results are in, and, for the most part, have been in since early Tuesday. In was ready for some of them…or was I. Let’s break them down:

Sad But Predictable: CAQ Majority

I was prepared for another Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) Government. I fully expected the evening would end with Premier François Legault winning a second Majority Government, possibly even a larger one.

I wasn’t expecting it at the beginning of the evening, though. Seriously, I had just figured out where to stream the results and the first thing I saw, even before I got the volume turned I knew it was that it was a CAQ Majority.

Another four years of Legault, for many, is a horrific prospect. My colleague Samantha Gold will speak about what it means for those most directly affected in a post to be published later. For me, this result is primarily a sad one.

It’s sad that there are enough people spread out across enough ridings who not only tolerate Legault’s xenophobia, pro-privatization stance and general right-wing bs, but actually support at least one, if not all, of the three. It’s also sad that, once again, Montreal voters don’t seem to count in the big picture.

Once again, all but two ridings on the island went for anyone but the CAQ and yet a CAQ Government we have. Legault can keep passing laws targeted at Montreal without having to answer to the people who live here.

The second-largest city in Canada, the largest city in Quebec and a world-class multicultural and largely progressive metropolis doesn’t have a say in some of the laws that affect it. Instead we are at the whim of people who are so antithetical to progress that they actually find a joke like François Legault electable.

But I digress. I was expecting that outcome. Most people who kept an eye on Quebec politics and the polls did.

Glad we got that out of the way right away, now we can look forward to good news from Montreal…or not.

Unexpected and Disappointing: No Great Change in Montreal Status-Quo

It looked, early on in this campaign, like the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) was in for a bit of a routing. Maybe not a complete one like the Parti Québécois (PQ) suffered last time, but a significant one rooted in Liberal bastions on the Island of Montreal, including Saint-Henri-Saint-Anne, Leader Dominique Anglade’s home riding (and my riding).

It also looked like Québec solidaire (QS) could be positioning itself as a strong primary opposition to the CAQ. This would herald a new dichotomy in Quebec politics with progressive QS policies on one hand and Legault’s right wing (or “centre-right” as he’ claims) on the other.

This would be a welcome change from the old Federalist/Sovereigntist split that had dominated the political scene here for over half a century and really seemed on its way out. Also, if some of the smaller parties like the Green Party of Quebec (PVQ) or even upstart parties like Bloc Montréal made some inroads in PLQ strongholds in Montreal, it would prove that the Libs can’t take our support for granted and not fight for our interests as they try to win votes in CAQ regions.

Unfortunately, while the Liberals lost ten seats since the last election, it was mostly to the CAQ and not in Montreal. They firmly remain the Official Opposition.

QS, meanwhile, did pick up a seat, going from ten to eleven, and it was from the Liberals and on the Island of Montreal, Verdun in particular. This was nice, but it would have been great if the trend continued and especially of QS’s Guillaume Cliche-Rivard had unseated Anglade.

Instead, the Libs hold pretty much the west of the island and QS has, for the most part, the old PQ ridings (from back when the PQ at least pretended to be progressive and not just nationalist). This would be fine if Montreal had the same influence it had when the PQ and PLQ traded victories. Now, though, when you leave the island, you are hit with a sea of CAQ.

Also, the smaller progressive parties barely made a dent. Bloc leader Balarama Holness and Green Leader Alex Tyrrell personally finished fifth and seventh respectively in the same riding (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce).

The best way to beat Legault next time is with a strong, progressive opposition clearly defined this time. And that opposition needs strong roots or at least support in Montreal.

The only way that opposition can be the Liberals is if they actually change their political DNA and stop being the party that sort-of campaigns to the left and then shifts rightward when in power, and that would take a serious loss to progressive ideas, if it’s possible at all. Probably not, to be honest.

For it to be QS, two things would have to happen:

  1. QS would have to stop trying to appease people in Legault’s base the way co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois did when the PQ leader pressured him during the debate and realize that they won’t vote for them anyways. Instead, they should focus on their own base and growing it and try to appeal more to staunch progressives, Montrealers and Anglos.
  2. Anglos would have to not be afraid of voting for a party with sovereignty on their platform. It’s not the xenophobic separatism you are used to and it’s not their top priority (plus, remember that at this point, we’re going for a strong opposition)

So there wasn’t a great victory for progressives (and for me) in the race for second. Was there any silver lining in these election results?

Some Good News: Conservatives Don’t Win a Single Seat & PQ Reduced to Three

One thing I was afraid of was that Éric Duhaime’s Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) would somehow squeak through a win or two on the West Island, NDG or Westmount due to the party’s opposition to Bill 96. That didn’t happen.

In fact, Duhaime’s late-in-the-game pivot to trying to woo Anglos didn’t work and neither did his earlier attempt to outflank Legault on the right by playing to the trucker convoy/anti-vax crowd. While performing decently in some ridings, the party didn’t win a single seat in the National Assembly and Duhaime even lost his.

It goes to show that trying to out-Legault Legault doesn’t work. Same thing for the PQ, the once-great, frequently in power PQ has now been reduced to just three seats, including one for its leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, who was in a real fight.

While I like the idea of splitting the bigot vote and/or the right-wing vote, as it could damage Legault, the fact that it didn’t work is ultimately a good thing. At least now, the CAQ is isolated, despite being more powerful than ever.

An abundance of parties on the right just moves the progressive ones further from their base. The fewer xenophobic voices in our political sphere the better.

So this was a small victory, but I’ll take it.

About That Electoral System We Have

One thing that could have been said during any broadcast covering this election would have been “These results are brought to you by the First-Past-The-Post-System”, because without it, things could have turned out much differently. Sure, the CAQ still would have won, but not by such a striking majority. Also, Montreal voters like me wouldn’t have felt that we were voting for second place.

Nadeau-Dubois, Duhaime and St-Pierre Plamondon all mentioned our electoral system, how it affected the results and the need for a change in their victory speeches. The latter spent a few minutes on the topic and appealed to Premier Legault to keep his promise of electoral reform from the 2018 campaign.

Now while St-Pierre Plamondon was correct in his assessment of this particular topic, I found it funny and hypocritical that the head of a party that benefited greatly from FPTP pretty much every other election for over 50 years was now railing against the process. The other two leaders, though, were perfectly justified in their opposition.

While it’s, um, unlikely, that Legault will revisit electoral reform this mandate, we really do need change. It seems like the one thing that could give us a result that isn’t as cringe-worthy and disheartening as this one was.

The votes are in and Québec solidaire (QS) has won our 2022 Quebec Election readers’ poll and therefore an endorsement article written on behalf of FTB readers.

Before we get into it, though, I think it’s important to mention that only a handful of people voted in this poll, way down from just about every other FTB election poll. Whether that’s a sign of lack of interest in this election or a feeling of Montreal only being in a position to choose second place or something else, I’m not sure.

Also, the margins were narrower than they usually are. QS won with 29% support followed by (ugh) The Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) at 19%. I’m seriously hoping these people saw their vocal and advertised Bill 96 opposition then stopped reading the rest of their platform, ’cause it’s scary.

Bloc Montréal, Balarama Holness’ new Montreal-focused party tied for third with the Not Legault! option (more on that later), winning 14% each. The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) and the Green Party of Quebec (PVQ) each placed fourth with 10% of the vote.

4% were undecided while the governing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) each got zero votes. One thing I love about small polls is being able to say that no one in our readership supports the current government.

Clearly Not Legault

Yes, we had Not Legault! as an option, sort of an Undecided Plus, as in “I’m not sure who I like, but definitely not him!” And if you crunch the numbers a different way, 96% of respondents confirmed that they will vote for someone other than CAQ Leader and Incumbent Premier François Legault.

Also, if you remove the Conservative number, you get 77% of respondents looking for a progressive (or progressive-sounding) alternative to Legault. Seriously, once you get past the CPQ pledge to eliminate Bill 96, they’re as bad as Legault (privatization of healthcare) and in some cases worse (think trucker convoy, anti-vax and far right, the original reasons the party got traction).

So if not Legault, then who? Well, FTB readers have selected Québec solidaire. While I know that not everyone in our readership, or our editorial team, supports them, I voted for them both in this poll and in reality, last week in advanced polls.

There are things not to like about them, like voting for Bill 96, co-spokesperson and Premier candidate Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois letting PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon bully him into saying teh n-word during a debate and, for some, their pro-sovereignty stance. But there are quite a few positives.

Why QS?

So why vote QS? Why did our readers pick them? I can’t really answer that for you, but I can answer that for me. Here are just a few reasons why I think Québec solidaire is the right choice this time around:

  • Environment: QS will ban the transport of hydrocarbons on Quebec territory, pass a law against food waste, financially and technically help farms transition to sustainable agriculture, refuse new road projects and strive to balance car travel with public transit.
  • Public Transit: Speaking of public transit, QS has a very ambitious Quebec Rail and Quebec Bus inter-city transit proposal but also wants to improve transit in the Greater Montreal Area which includes extending the Metro’s Orange Line west, the Green Line east and a Purple Line going from Laval East to Downtown.
  • Housing: QS plans to fight the housing crisis by stopping abusive rent increases and building 50 000 affordable residences.
  • Healthcare: They are promising 24/7 CLSCs, double the homecare for seniors and public dental care.
  • Systemic Racism: QS admits it’s real, which, surprisingly in Quebec, is a big thing. They plan to listen to affected communities to fight it, in particular indigenous communities.
  • Bill 21: They stood up and voted against Bill 21 and pledge to dismantle it if elected.
  • Contraception and the “Pink Tax”: Under a QS Government, contraceptive products will be covered my RAMQ, menstrual products will be free in schools and the “pink tax” that makes products more expensive for women will be a thing of the past.
  • French: Despite voting for Bill 96, QS is advocating for the carrot approach, rather than the stick, when it comes to promoting French: New immigrants will be offered free on-the-job French courses and $500 vouchers for French cultural events.

While some of the smaller progressive parties echo these platform points, QS is the only one that has them and also has a good chance of winning several seats. And while the Liberal platform might sound progressive, they have a track record of veering right once elected.

With that in mind, Québec solidaire is both a principled choice and a strategic one. Which is why, I think, it got our readers’ endorsement.

Drawings by Samantha Gold @samiamart on Facebook & @samiamartistmtl on Instagram

Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney welcome Samantha Gold to talk about the 2022 Quebec Election: Legault’s bigotry, youth voter turnout, QS and smaller leftist parties, a relevance for Bloc Pot and more!

Find out where and when you can vote at electionsquebec.qc.ca

For Samantha Gold’s election caricatures and more art:
@samiamart on Facebook & @samiamartistmtl on Instagram

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Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss François Legault’s promise of financial Hurricane Fiona relief and lack of funding for climate change adaptation, Vladimir Putin’s military draft that largely targets minorities and protesters, protests in Iran and more.

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