Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss Montreal’s pilot project to allow the S.A.T. to serve alcohol without a last call, Russia banning 61 more Canadians, the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial and more
The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much upon us, and with the Omicron variant spreading like wildfire, I think we can all agree that the Christmas holidays are going to suck this year. That said, no one wants to make things worse by getting slapped with a fine for violating public health rules, or thrown in jail for crimes that are painfully common during the season.
As per what’s become a bit of a Forget the Box holiday tradition, I’m here to help. This article is going to give a crash course on the new Quebec COVID-19 rules in effect as of today, as well as other tips for getting through the holidays in one piece. I’m not a doctor, or a psychologist, I’m just a law school grad who likes to research and help others.
First, let’s talk about the Omicron variant and why it’s driving case numbers up. It is a COVID-19 variant discovered in late November 2021. While research on the variant is ongoing, one thing is clear: it’s spreading fast, and is likely to overtake the Delta variant in the 89 countries it has been detected in, Canada-included.
The numbers in Quebec have gone from less than five hundred cases a day to nearly four thousand a day because of Omicron, and as a result the provincial government has imposed new health measures that started yesterday. Here’s a quick summary (the complete English version of the new rules is available for download on the Quebec government’s website):
As of yesterday, December 20, 2021, at 5pm, primary and secondary schools are closed until January 10, 2022 when in-person schooling is expected to resume for primary school students. Secondary schoolers will be doing remote learning when classes resume. Bars, taverns, gyms, movie theatres, spas and concert venues are closed until further notice. Restaurants are only allowed to operate at 50% capacity and limit their hours from 5 am to 10 pm.
As of when this is being written, religious services must operate at 50% capacity, attendees must remain seated and vaccine passports are required. Weddings and funerals can take place with a maximum of 50 people. For funerals those 50 can be on a rolling basis, meaning once 50 people have paid their respects, another 50 can replace them. If the wedding or funeral does not require a vaccine passport of its attendees, the maximum number allowed drops to 25 people.
For gatherings in private homes, be they with family or chosen family, the current legal limit is ten people, but the government said that may change. If the gathering is outdoors, that number increases to 20 people, but the cold weather will likely deter the latter.
Working from home is now required of all non-essential workers including civil servants. Failure to obey these rules can result in massive fines, and maybe even encounters with the police like the ones that went viral last holiday season.
The non-mandatory recommendations by the government include avoiding social contact. This can be especially hard on one’s mental health, as people always feel lonelier over the holidays when ads are promoting the merits of togetherness.
Try keeping the TV or Youtube or a podcast on to break the painful silence, and take the isolation as an opportunity to brush up on a skill, learn a new one, or take up a new solo hobby. Do not hesitate to seek help if you feel yourself slipping under the strain of new rules and the fear of getting sick, despite your attempts to cope.
Seeking help takes immense courage and you’re not weak if you do so. If you’re in a mental health crisis Call 811 and press two to speak to a social worker who can direct you to mental health services in your area or text 686868 to chat anonymously with a crisis worker for free 24/7.
As of today, rapid tests will be available free every 30 days in certain pharmacies throughout Quebec. In order to adhere to government rules regarding the lowered capacity of stores and other businesses, some chains like Jean Coutu are offering the rapid testing kits only by appointment.
One testing kit is good for up to five tests, and you should absolutely get one. The test is sensitive enough to pick up the infection marker of the virus even if you’re asymptomatic, so taking one right before a holiday gathering might be a good idea, but there’s a shortage of tests so use yours wisely.
Don’t bother with mistletoe this year; given the pandemic, that kind of random kissing is just silly.
When it comes to alcohol and cannabis, the chemicals that make family gatherings tolerable for so many, remember that driving while under the influence is a criminal offense that can result in fines and jail time. If intoxicated, crash with your host, accept a lift home, have someone call a taxi or an Uber for you, but if you’re female or female presenting, it is ill advised to ride the latter two alone, given the history of drivers taking advantage of women under the influence.
Last but not least, let’s talk about fireworks. They’re popular to set off on New Year’s Eve, but they are also extremely dangerous. Asian language news channels seldom censor the consequences of mismanaged fireworks, which show footage of protruding hand bones and fingers blown off.
In Montreal, fireworks must be handled by someone over the age of 18, and it is illegal to hold fireworks once the fuse is lit. It is also illegal to set off fireworks in windy conditions or in a location where they’ll fly over an audience; for more information check out of the City of Montreal’s website.
The holidays are once again being ruined by the pandemic, but with a few precautions, we can perhaps make them a little less awful. Stay safe, stay sane, wear a mask, and get vaccinated.
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, and Maligayang Pasko!
Featured Image by Joe Buckingham via WikiMedia Commons
It’s the holidays and that means food, family, and tons more ways to get into trouble. I’m here to help.
This article is going to be a guide on how to get through the holidays with the least amount of damage to your life, property, and freedom. For the purposes of this article, the laws mentioned will pertain primarily to Montreal. Check online for your city’s particular rules and regulations.
Let’s start with fires
Between cooking accidents, overloaded sockets, and highly flammable wrapping paper, the risk of fires is higher around the holiday season. There is also the matter of fireplaces, which I will tackle first.
In the City of Montreal it is no longer legal to use fireplaces and other solid-fuel-burning devices. Those who wanted to keep using their fireplaces had until October 1, 2018 to have them modified to conform to certain environmental standards. Those who have not and still use their fireplaces in the City face stiff fines.
Now let’s tackle the kinds of fires that could happen and what to do about them. It should go without saying that you should keep your smoke alarms on and with fresh batteries. It should also go without saying that if a fire is particularly large you’re better off calling 911. If it’s something you think you can handle, here’s how.
This is the kind of fire that generally happens on the stove when oil gets too hot. The quickest and best way to put out such a fire is to smother it. That means covering the pot or pan with a lid or other pot big enough to cut off the fire’s oxygen supply, making it die out.
Electrical fires are common during the holidays due to overloaded sockets and powerbars. If there’s an electrical fire, turn off the device and unplug it, then smother the fire with a blanket or use a Type C fire extinguisher.
DO NOT USE WATER TO PUT OUT GREASE OR ELECTRICAL FIRES. Water conducts electricity, thus putting you at risk of an electrical shock. Using water to put out a grease fire can cause the oil to splash, thus spreading the fire.
When to use water?
If it’s your Christmas tree that caught fire, determine the nature of the fire and go from there. The bigger the fire, the better off you are calling 911.
Once the fire is out, open as many windows as you can to get the smoke out and turn on a fan to help it along if you have one.
Now let’s talk about alcohol
Family time will undoubtedly lead to an increase in alcohol consumption so to reduce the risk of deaths on the road, we need to talk about Canada’s drunk driving laws.
As it stands the legal blood alcohol limit is eighty milligrams of alcohol in every hundred milliliters of blood. Driving with a blood alcohol level over this limit is a criminal offence.
The government recently updated its drunk driving laws and they are now stricter than ever.
Under the new law the police can demand a breathalyzer test from anyone they pull over (the fact that this will likely exacerbate racial profiling by the police is another can of worms altogether). Those who refuse to take the breathalyzer test can be charged with impaired driving.
In addition, the Bolus defense – a defense by which you can raise a reasonable doubt as to whether you were driving impaired by arguing that you had just consumed the alcohol and therefore had not absorbed it enough to be impaired – is no longer a viable defense in drunk driving cases.
Refusing to take a breathalyzer test comes with a fine of two thousand dollars for a first offense. A first offense for driving over the legal limit comes with fines ranging from a thousand to twenty-five hundred dollars depending on how high your blood alcohol concentration was above the legal limit. Subsequent offenses lead to automatic jail time.
That said, drink responsibly. If you’re drunk, sleep at a friend’s house, get a lift, or take a taxi or Uber. If you insist on going home that night, call Operation Red Nose at 514-256-2510. They’ll send a volunteer to drive you home. If you’re a woman, best to take a cab or Uber with someone you know given the risk of sexual assaults by drivers and how little the police have taken them seriously in the past.
Speaking of sexual assault…
It’s time to talk about consent
Between the booze, the Mistletoe, and New Year’s Eve, the risk of sexual assault is high, so here’s a reminder of how consent works – though I find it utterly tragic that I need to keep issuing these reminders.
Consent is defined as the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time. That means that if – for example – your partner wants to stop and you keep going regardless, the sexual encounter is no longer consensual and becomes sexual assault.
There is no consent if the person is too young, too drunk, or unconscious. If the person is consenting to something drunk that they wouldn’t have consented to sober, they are probably in no position to consent. If you have any doubts, DON’T do it.
You’re not only fucking someone over physically and psychologically, you risk bringing in the New Year with a charge of sexual assault.
Last but not least, if you feel compelled to use fireworks on New Year’s Eve, do so responsibly. Every New Year’s Day reports storm in of people blowing their fingers off and setting fires because they didn’t know how to use the pyrotechnics they bought for the occasion. Check your city’s by-laws on fireworks use, read and follow the instructions on all the fireworks you buy, and don’t light anything while impaired.
Happy Holidays Everyone! Play Safe!
* Featured Image by Joe Buckingham via WikiMedia Commons
Alcohol and I don’t mix. I am second guessing my whole attraction to the party scene, I just don’t want to be a clouded disaster anymore. Also, and more importantly, it’s bad for my body.
Why do I have to be drunk to dance and meet people? I have more meaningful relationships that begin with chance meetings at art openings or while volunteering, nothing good has ever come out of the bar. It’s just a place to spend money and waste away. Pay to rot in the darkness while everyone is trying to get their dick sucked. Bumping around at last call to find someone just as drunk as them to bump uglies with.
Going out all the time is a game. You see the same people, spending their money, playing pool, throwing back beers and shots, looking more attractive to each other by the second.
When you are the only sober person in the group it is interesting. You can see the dark side of the depressant that is alcohol. People spiral out of control and act a fool. Barely able to walk or create sentences, bumbling, spilling, spending money, desperation, mindlessly grabbing for any shred of connection they can get. Nobody realizes how silly the whole thing is if everyone is drunk.
I have noticed a disturbing trend among my friends: everyone is fucking depressed. People are drinking to forget instead of to enjoy. To medicate instead of celebrate.
Like every other person with fading youth I have dabbled in alcoholism, been the girl who made all of the bad decisions. I have taken cabs home with strange men and women. I have woken up next to a person that I never remembered even meeting, let alone fucking.
Taking advantage of a drunk person is RAPE! What kind of feminist has such little self respect that the only way she can get some is by getting black out? You must respect yourself. The difference of good people who do bad things sometimes and bad people who do good things sometimes isn’t clear when you are inebriated.
For me being sober has a better chance of leading to ghosting – the art of sneaking out without saying goodbye. I know this can be bad, people may wonder “WTF happened to Cat?” A lot of times my friends get pissed, but most times people don’t even notice I am gone. Everyone is drunk and wrapped up in their own worlds, trying to get fucked or make a meaningful connection, pounding beers.
If I feel un-engaged I will bounce. I keep imagining how much nicer my bed full of kitties and books is than this dingy ass bar.
I have been inspired by a couple of my friends who have been reading books in the corner of the bar. This is a great upgrade from texting away. My bestie said that more people came and sat next to her when she was reading over texting or just drinking and staring off into the abyss. Being in your own head is more approachable. Being smart is attractive.
I find that my greatest sadness and isolation happens when I am in a full room of people, most of which I know and love, and I drink. Once I drink a wave of darkness comes over me. I am lonely in a way that is incomprehensible.
I often feel socially awkward when in a bar situation. I can’t hear enough to conversate. I really get pissed off by drunk men above all, the worst are the flaming bro douches. The ones with oozing testosterone and backwards hats, the ones who flex their muscles while drinking their Labatt Blue. I have no time for your bullshit. Reading a book in the well lit corner is better than getting your ass grabbed by scumbags any day.
I am not going to preach about any kind of lifestyle choices because I cannot rule you, I am only in charge of my own actions. I can understand why people go straightedge. Being focused and strong, making sure they are ready to fight for the revolution. Giving up drugs because your friends are dying, your little brothers and sisters are overdosing. Live because they died. Cops killing in the name of the racist war on drugs, quick money, and it all goes by in the blink of an eye.
Never judge anyone for not drinking or partaking in drugs. Respect every person’s right to choose. They will be the people you look too when you are messed up and need help at 4am.
How can I expect to have a real connection with someone that I consistently meet at 4am at a bar? He is always fucked up. Singing and dancing like a sprite, perfect to the sight, no idea how bright. So beautiful, but not cogniscant of what I am capable of. I will keep you warm and fed, I will hold you when you are sad, I will travel to the end of the world with you, holding hands against adversity. I want to be someone’s everything kind of love.
Yet I grasp for straws.
I hate that moment when someone decides they are not interested. Hot guy comes up and initiates conversation, it’s going well, we are both laughing, then all of a sudden “I need to get a drink.” He goes to the bar, gets his drink, and walks away like we were never talking.
LAME. I don’t want to monopolize someones time, but it’s kind of rude to walk away with no viable explanation. I’ts not like he owed me anything, but come on. He then started talking to a smaller, cuter girl. Typical.
People fight with their significant others only when they are both drinking. Some people only get the balls to communicate when they drink. Important things that should be discussed with a clear mind are haphazardly thrown on the table.
There is something so wrong about fuzzy conversation, basing your decisions on the clouded mind of a drunk. Like Kimya Dawson says: “Without 40 ounces of social skills I’m just an ass in the crack of humanity.” I am socially inept, downright scared to talk to people when I am out of my comfort zone. But to be fair, sometimes I isolate myself by going out in full makeup and costume after one of my shows. I would be afraid to talk to me, too.
As a bartender I was definitely a therapist. I did not like drinking while I worked for that reason. I know a lot of bartenders who think otherwise. It really got to me after awhile, seeing the effect it had on people made it not appealing. There is nothing sexy about drunk people.
Being a bartender is HARD! stressful work. People are basically on vacation and some treat you like a common slave. I can’t be fake nice for a tip anymore. I have a tip for you, don’t be a misogynist asshole and go fuck yourself. How’s that for a tip?
Do you really know someone if you only see them when they are all fucked up? IS that them? If someone is drunk more often than not does that define them? Are they just “a drunk” now? That’s sad.
I don’t want to think that. Sobriety provides clarity and focus, not hiding behind the false good feels. I don’t want to be an asshole anymore. People get mean when they drink and make excuses. “Oh I only smoke when I drink.” “Oh I only do coke when I drink.” “Oh I only beat my wife when I drink.” “Oh I only smash up my car and kill entire families when I drink.”
Moderation is everything, I know that, but sometimes you just gotta dry out and start over. I have never had a bad reaction with marijuana. Cocaine is not a social drug. People end up in the bathroom, then tweak out, nobody wants to share it because it’s so expensive. Weed is about community, a peace pipe, I am always happy to pass the joint. Alcohol is also a party substance that people are happy to share. Arriving with a case of beer can save the party.
Most are trying to fill a void with liquor and drugs. Alcohol is social fuel for the terminally awkward. Our generation is confused. Real honest connections are blurred.
It is lovely to be the one who can keep their shit together among an incapacitated crowd. The responsible one, the human that you look for when shit gets too weird. The party hero. Carrying around a solo cup full of water.
Clarity now, the fog has lifted and I can see your true colors. Now is the time to take chances, be weird without alcohol. An aggressive drunk girl can seem pathetic, but an aggressive sober girl is different.
People can be uncomfortable around sober folks, so don’t brag about being sober, drink your water and act a fool. The only one stopping you from having an amazing time is yourself.
Few things have humankind dedicated more time and resources toward than the search for an effective hangover cure. It’s a testament to the complexity of the problem that after this long in the timeline of human development we still have not landed on something that really works. We’ve proven ourselves to be more than capable at creating stronger and more devastating hangovers, with inventions such as Jag bombs, beer bongs and family reunions, but the elimination of a bad hangover still eludes us.
But, while there is still no foreseeable cure, there are some actions that can be taken to relieve the symptoms. Clearly not drinking isn’t an option, so when you can’t resist the shimmering allure of that open bar at your cousin’s wedding or siren’s call of that bottle of navy rum hidden in the toilet tank at the office, here are a few tips that should help you minimize those next day aches and heaves.
First off, a huge part of what makes a hangover so uncomfortable is that all the alcohol you’ve consumed has caused your body a great deal of dehydration. So you’re going to want to drink a lot of water or Gatorade to take care of that. Make sure when you’re lying prostrate, trying not to move or hear any sounds that you have a ready source of water at hand. I’d recommend a hose, or at the very least tie a bucket to your cat and send her out to collect rain water.
Some people will tell you that the best way to get rid of a hangover is the old “hair of the dog that bit you” method of just starting to drink again. I can’t argue with the efficiency of this, but it’s a slippery slope. When does it end? I got really into this method a couple summers ago, thinking I would never have to deal with a hangover if I never let myself sober up. And, let me tell you, it works. But I figure I’m going to have to face sobriety sometime. I mean I haven’t had a hangover in two years, but I also used to have a job and a car and a home. And kids? I can‘t remember.
Anyway, those are the two solutions that come up the majority of the time you talk about hangover cures with most people. But I’ve got a couple more that I’ve discovered throughout my years that aren’t as well known and widely discussed.
Like adrenaline. Few things can blast the ill feelings of a night of hard drinking out of your system quite like it. But not just any adrenaline. Sure, bungee jumping or going for a ride on a roller coaster would offer some respite, masked robbery of a Red Lobster for some more beer money works satisfactorily too, but the real kind of adrenaline you need to crest that hill of nausea and shame comes from two and a half simple words. Auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Another really effective method is to be hit by lightning. This one isn’t as practical as auto-erotic asphyxiation, which really only needs a belt and a closet, because you need the co-operation of the skies themselves. But if you’re lucky enough to be caught in a thunderstorm during a hangover, climb a tree or stand in a field with something metal.
It’s important that it’s lightning, though, not just any electricity. Jamming a screwdriver into an outlet doesn’t have the same restorative power, and you’re likely to just make your headache worse. As an added bonus, one in every ten people who get struck by lightning develop powerful psychic powers. Or is it deep psychological issues? One of the two, I can’t remember. The good one, maybe. Only one way to find out, I guess.
Really, though, the only guaranteed way to beat a hangover is to not drink at all, and for a lot of people that would mean altering broader aspects of their lives. It’s difficult to be in certain situations and not drink heavily. Birthday parties, BBQs, orgies, concerts, parks, any kind of religious service, shopping, and bus rides longer than twenty minutes would all be next to impossible without the aid of enough alcohol to cause a hangover that could incapacitate a large elk.
Which is why there will always be need for good restorative tips. And I think you’re going to need one or two of these tips soon, if it took you even half the amount of liquor to get through reading this article as it did for me to get through writing it.
Photo by camknows via Flickr