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  1. For a while now I have been thinking about how Canada would be like, if we actually had a decent size population. I found an article from the Globe and Mail from a few years ago, saying we should really consider increasing the number of immigrants coming to this country. How do we get 1.9 million new people to move to Canada and live here, each and every year? Yes, the current major cities like Toronto and Montreal will continue to grow, but we should find ways to get other cities to grow also. If we did manage to get to 100,000,000 people living in Canada by 2050, we would have a density of 10 people per sq.km. That would be almost similar to present day Russia (excl. the annexation of Crimea). The US has 35 people per sq.km. With that we would see Canada explode to well over 300 million people. Yes it would be a lot of more mouths to feed. Plus we would need a rapid expansion in new urban centers across the provinces and especially the territories. We would also need to develop/revitalize current industries and create new industries. I know the energy (petrol) and mining sectors are in the toilet, but if we managed to increase the population, we would probably bring those industries back to life. We may be able to finally fly Montreal to Vancouver or within this country for cheaper or drive through the Prairies and be bored out of our minds or even driving all the way to Iqaluit and not worry about the gas tank, seeing there may be a station close by and not 1000's of km away. Also we can finally see many of the national parks and provincial/territorial parks, that are inaccessible and costs 10s of thousands of to visit. The reason I bring up the territories, they are grossly under populated. If there are more people there and more towns/cities connecting them to the south, the cost of living there will decrease. Plus by 2050-2100, more people will be moving north because of climate change. I found one agency formulate by 2050, we would see Canada's population grow to well under 50 million, we would be one of the wealthiest per capita, but our GDP would be lower. If we could increase the population to 100 million and also find a way to still have a similar GDP per capita as the one forecast for 2050 with 50 million, we would be the 4th wealthiest instead of the 17th. It is a long shot and I know Canada has a lot to do before that time, but we should really think about the future of this country.
  2. A sampling tour of Vermont and Montreal Miami Herald BY LIZ BALMASEDA This is the trip you take when you can't decide what trip to take. You want country-style serenity, but you also want big-city fabulous. You want glorious lake views and rolling green hills, but you also want cosmopolitan boutiques, downtown bustle and jazz. A tour through the soul-soothing Lake Champlain region of northern Vermont and the stimulating thoroughfares of Montreal is a best-of-both-worlds trip you can enjoy in just five easy days. But here's a word to the overly ambitious traveler who wants to see it all on every journey: Think of this tour as a gourmet sampling, not an all-you-can-eat buffet. COUNTRY: VERMONT'S WEST COAST Our tour began in Burlington, Vt., an easily accessible destination for South Florida travelers, since JetBlue has affordable, frequent flights from Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, with a short layover at JFK airport in New York. For big-city escapists hoping to capture a few days of peace, the gentle signs that you've arrived are noticeable right away. I saw them just moments after my flight landed in Burlington, as I walked along an airport corridor to the rental car parking lot. There they were, perfectly white, wooden rocking chairs. Not generic airport seating, but rocking chairs. The quaintness continued on the 25-mile drive south toward Vergennes, on the shores of Lake Champlain, or Vermont's ''West Coast,'' as they call it here. Along carefree U.S. 7, we passed farms and creameries, vintage New England fa?ades, sloping country roads and even one of Vermont's vintage covered bridges. This road takes you past some of the area's most popular attractions. There's the Vermont Wildflower Farm, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and the Shelburne Museum. There are plenty of teddy bears to hug, cheeses to taste, hiking trails to explore and folk art to buy along this route, depending on your time and interests. As for us, we were in a hurry to reach Lake Champlain and check into our lakefront hotel, the Basin Harbor Club. It was close to 5 p.m. and we didn't want to miss the daylight views. But as we turned on to Basin Harbor Road, we watched the sky blacken across the sprawling farmlands. Lightning streaked the sky in the distance. The sudden darkness along this solitary road gave me the creeps, but I tried to put up a good front for my travel companion, my 16-year-old niece, Natalie Alatriste. ''We're almost there,'' I reassured her, straining to read the passing road signs. But then, like some kind of joke from the universe, one sign called out to me: ''Sleepy Hollow Lane,'' it said. Natalie and I looked at one another and burst into laughter. I stepped on the gas and sped toward the hotel. We joked about what it might be like -- the Bates Motel, maybe? And when we had to dash into the resort lobby under a thunderstorm and take an old wooden staircase to our room, we wondered what kind of adventure awaited us. Indeed, as I opened the door, I gasped. It wasn't the room that stunned me, for it was ample and nicely appointed in a charming New England style, with a quiet balcony overlooking the leafy landscape. No, what stopped my suburban South Florida heart cold was what wasn't there: There was no TV. No TV? How could I survive Wednesday night without ``Top Chef Miami''? But moments later, we walked outside to find the sun had returned, casting a magical light on the trees, the lovely walking paths, the sturdy collection of cottages and the main attraction: the shimmering lake. We sat on brightly colored Adirondack chairs and gazed at the mountains that inspired their name. The sun shone well past 9 p.m., illuminating the landscape of mountains and lake. It was simply gorgeous. The resort sits on 700 rolling acres on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, the sixth-largest lake in America. The historic resort, which is open from mid-May to mid-October, has been welcoming families for 120 years. It offers its guests a laid-back ambience and activities that include golf, tennis, swimming, boating, water sports and hiking. There's even a museum on the grounds, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, devoted to the lake's history. In early October, this is a prime spot to take in northern Vermont's spectacular foliage. For up-to-date reports on leaf coloration until late October, travelers can call Vermont's 24-hour foliage hot line (for details, see below). About 7 miles from downtown Vergennes, the Basin Harbor Club embraces its remote setting, beckoning visitors to relax and forget big-city stress. That explained our missing TV set: In fact, there are no TVs in any of the resort's 74 cottages, 24 rooms or 14 suites. (I did spy a small television and two computers in a den tucked beside the bar in the main lodge. And there is telephone Internet access in the rooms.) The resort also embraces another tradition: All gentlemen over age 12 must wear a coat and tie after 6 p.m. during July and August. That first night, my niece and I dined at the Red Mill, the more casual of the two places that serve dinner at the Basin Harbor. With its funky red facade, its lively bustle and eclectic menu, the renovated sawmill quickly became our favorite place. We were hooked after our first taste of the house specialty, Basin Harbor Cheddar Ale soup: a creamy, lightly spicy tribute to one of Vermont's great gifts to the world -- cheddar. We paired it with a wonderful plate of crispy calamari tossed with scallions, pepperoncini and hot cherry peppers in a garlicky sauce. And because one can never have enough cheese, we ordered a plate of local cheeses for dessert. Our server kindly wrote down the names of our two favorites: Grafton Young cheddar and Crowley Reserve (both cow milk cheeses). The menu, varied and tempting, kept us coming back throughout our stay. Just check out the menu's description of the Champlain Valley Rabbit Papardelle: ''Braised rabbit, chocolate, espresso, brandy, paprika, raisins and hazelnuts,'' tossed over pasta. You get the idea. For breakfast, however, we preferred the Main Dining Room, an elegant, gourmet restaurant that really dresses up at night. In the morning, guests can get the same quality food and service without having to put on their fancy threads. If the cheese soup kept us coming back to the Red Mill, the French toast kept us coming back to the Dining Room. I should be more specific here: The prime Vermont maple syrup on the French toast kept us coming back. Good Vermont maple syrup, we learned, is not the sticky, overly sweet stuff they serve you at I-Hop. It's a perfectly balanced elixir that never overpowers your palate. More local delicacies awaited us in downtown Vergennes, Vermont's oldest city, established in 1788. The heart of this small, Victorian city is a great place to walk and take in the essence of Vermont. The streets are dotted with cafes and shops, along with a couple of bed-and-breakfasts. At the suggestion of locals, we stopped in at Vergennes' sweetest shop. Daily Chocolate is no regular candy store: It's a chocolate shop par excellence. Tucked below street level on a side street, it would be hard to find if not for the aromatic wafts rising from its kitchen. There, owner Floery Mahoney makes fresh batches of uniquely flavored chocolate each day. We found her behind the counter, arranging truffles and hand-formed chocolate barks. Natalie scooped up a bag of her favorite dark chocolate for the road. I was tempted by the wide selection of flavors, which included far-flung combinations like lemongrass/sake, maple/chipotle/pecan and green tea infused mint. But I resisted -- well, only because Mahoney told me the shop has a Web site, dailychocolate.net, and she gladly takes orders for shipment. TOWN: MONTREAL Fortified with Vermont chocolate, it was time to make a run for the border. Montreal is just 90 miles north of Burlington. The AAA Web site routes travelers west across the lake into New York state, where they can pick up I-87 into Canada. But that route would add at least one hour to our travel time, thanks to the Burlington-Port Kent, N.Y., ferry crossing. (There's also another crossing between Charlotte, Vt., and Essex, N.Y, a 20-minute sail along a particularly lovely part of Lake Champlain. But that crossing is farther to the south.) After conferring with Vermont locals, I decided to skip the ferry and the New York detour altogether and take I-89 north from Burlington, a breezy highway that turns into Canada's Route 133, a slower, but perfectly fine country highway that guides you into Montreal. The best part about it is there was no traffic at the border. We showed Canadian border guards our U.S. passports -- don't leave home without a passport or other valid immigration documents -- and we were on our way. While the landscape remains rural, the French signs remind you that you've entered another country, another culture. An hour from Burlington, and you can stop for French pastry and a cafe au lait -- or more maple syrup, if you wish. But once you've entered Montreal, with its skyscrapers and churning traffic, you're snapped into another reality, a world away from the rural pastures. The city carries the heart-pumping, electric charge of a big-time metropolis. We found our way to Rue Sherbrooke, a vibrant boulevard that anchors some of the city's best hotels. There, we spotted ours, the Omni Mont-Royal, a favorite of business travelers and weekend shoppers. The hotel is just off the main shopping drag, Rue Sainte-Catherine, and the entrances to the network of subterranean shopping malls that makes up Montreal's Underground City. Also within walking distance are some of the city's major museums, including the Musee des Beaux-Arts and the Musee d'Art Contemporain. But we -- meaning Natalie -- had decided this trip was not nearly long enough to squander on museum-hopping. Not when we could be shopping. We dropped off our luggage and headed for the shops. Back in Vermont, Natalie had looked up the locations of her favorite store, H&M, and didn't waste too much time directing me to the nearest one. Unfortunately, this one was not within walking distance. It was at the Rockland mall about 20 minutes north of the hotel. But the drive there gave us the chance to see the busy streets and storefronts of city's immigrant communities, a mix of cultures sharing blocks and buses. That night we met friends, transplants from South Florida, for dinner in the Vieux-Montreal quarter. They gave us a tour of the charming, Old World streets of old town. ''Doesn't this feel like we're in a tiny corner of France?'' one of my friends asked. Indeed. The narrow, cobblestone streets, quaint shops and bistros set off all sorts of French culinary cravings. Lucky thing my friends' favorite restaurant couldn't have been more French. Its name alone speaks to its specialties and no-nonsense nature: the Steak Frites. The restaurant, which anchors a corner of Rue Saint-Paul, is a cozy place where the menu is handwritten on a chalkboard. Of course, none of us needed menus -- we ordered steaks and fries all around, followed by a shared dish of profiteroles. The neighborhood is a great place to stroll at night, or listen to good jazz. After all, this is the city that each year gives us one of the best jazz festivals in the world. A perfect place to indulge in the live jazz sounds of Montreal is directly across from the Steak Frites restaurant. The Modavie is a restaurant, wine bar and jazz club featuring live music nightly. But you must dine there to watch the show. Later, as we toured the city at night, we stopped in at the sleek W Hotel, at 901 Square Victoria, for a Perrier. It was a fitting end to a great evening. The next morning, we breakfasted at Anton & James, on nearby Stanley Street, a chic coffee shop that bills itself as a ''cafeteria urbaine.'' Then we hit the Underground City, walking the malls from one end to another. As we made our way out of the city, we stopped to walk around the Plateau neighborhood, perusing the shops and storefronts along Rue Saint-Denis. I found a great music shop called L'Atelier Grigorian -- http://www.grigorian.com -- with an extensive collection of jazz. A few doors down, we also found a casual spot for lunch at La Brioche Lyonnaise, a pastry shop with outdoor seating. I could have spent hours on Rue Saint-Denis, but I knew we had to head back to Vermont. It was already afternoon, and we had a morning flight. Our drive to Essex Junction, Vt., was easy and relatively quick. We checked into the Inn at Essex, a cute 120-room country hotel that houses the New England Culinary Institute. And we arrived just in time for a spectacular dinner at Butler's, the inn's finest restaurant. There, a multi-course gourmet feast is prepared each night by the culinary students. This inn is perhaps the area's best bargain. For what you might pay at a Holiday Inn Express, you can stay at a charming, well-appointed inn with gourmet touches, spa services and culinary classes. Even the toiletries, sweet-smelling and organic, are yummy. And the place is only 7 miles from the Burlington airport -- there's an airport shuttle, too. The next morning came all too quickly as we packed our bags for our return flight. Outside, in the gardens of the inn, it was a glorious, Vermont morning, the kind that nudges you to stay a little longer. We couldn't, of course. But we did stop at the gift shop for a souvenir: a bottle of Vermont maple syrup.
  3. Immigrants to Quebec find job search hard Last Updated: Friday, September 4, 2009 | 4:16 PM ET CBC News Recent immigrants to Quebec have a harder time finding work than the average person, according to a CBC report. Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years.Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years. (CBC)The unemployment rate for new immigrants living in the province is nearly double the national joblessness average of eight per cent. Language barriers are a major obstacle for many people looking for work, especially in Quebec, where the dominant language is French. But even for French-speaking immigrants, searching for employment can be frustrating. Aurelie Tseng is a Taiwanese immigrant who moved to Quebec two years ago to be with her husband. Tseng has a business degree, speaks French, and is looking for work in her field. But after two years of looking for a job, she remains unemployed, and her discouragement grows. "I have no clue how to do it," Tseng told CBC News. "It takes more courage [now] because I have been depressed for a long time." Tseng has sought advice from YES Montreal, a non-profit organization that offers job-search services. They told her networking is key to finding any job. But networking in a new country is daunting, Tseng said. "In my country nobody does that, nobody would tell you to do that," she admitted. Tseng believes her Taiwanese background has made her job search tougher. "We are more, you know, moderate and modest. You just want to say 'OK, yes, I probably can do this,' but for example people here, they don't like to hear that, they want you to say it out loud: 'Yes I can do it' not just, 'Oh yes I think I can do it,' for example." Tseng said she's hoping to eventually get a break at a bank in Montreal's Chinatown.
  4. Quebec destined to stay Canadian: poll Only one-third of Quebec residents believe province will become a country RANDY BOSWELL, Canwest News Service Published: 4 hours ago A new nationwide poll suggests that a strong majority of Canadians - including most of the country's French-speaking population - believes Quebec is "destined" to remain part of Canada. The survey, commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, also revealed that barely one-third of Quebec residents believe the province is "destined to become a country" of its own. Conducted in May by Léger Marketing, the survey of 1,500 Canadians probed their "gut feelings" about Quebec's ultimate fate as a political entity, says ACS executive director Jack Jedwab. He also says the results suggest the limited appeal of the historical narrative long promoted by Quebec separatists - that "accidents of history," such as the British victory in the Seven Years' War, have merely delayed Quebec's inevitable emergence as an independent state. Instead, Jedwab says, most Canadians, including Quebecers, appear to find the classic federalist storyline - which emphasizes inexorable progress toward reconciliation of the French-English conflict at the heart of Canadian history - more compelling. A persuasive narrative that predicts a nation's destiny can exert a powerful influence on people's perceptions of history, contemporary politics and the future direction of a country, Jedwab says. He points to the influence of the "Manifest Destiny" doctrine in shaping the 19th-century expansion of the United States and certain strongly held views about its place in the world. Similarly, he says, views in Canada about whether Quebec's future is "pre-determined" by history play a significant role in the long-running debate about its place in the federation, with separatists and federalists alike claiming that "history is on their side." Jedwab notes that in the latest poll, the percentage of Quebec residents who envision a separate Quebec in the near or distant future "closely corresponds" to the proportion of the population that supports Quebec's separation. The findings, he says, may therefore represent "what people are wishing for" as much as what they expect to happen to Quebec one day. The poll was conducted from May 21 to 25. Just over 1,500 Canadians 18 years of age and over were surveyed, with a margin of error of 2.9 per cent 19 times out of 20. Those questioned were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statements "Quebec is destined to remain part of Canada" and "Quebec is destined to become a country." Seventy-one per cent of English-speaking respondents and 78 per cent of allophones - those whose first language is neither French nor English - agreed that Quebec will remain part of Confederation. Fifty-four per cent of French-Canadian respondents agreed. Regionally, respondents from Ontario (79 per cent) and Alberta (76 per cent) were most likely to agree that Quebec's destiny is within a united Canada. Majorities from the Maritimes (65 per cent), B.C. (64 per cent), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (62 per cent) and Quebec itself (54 per cent) also agreed. Asked more directly if Quebec is "destined to become a country," just 38 per cent of French Canadians, 12 per cent of English-Canadian respondents and three per cent of allophones agreed that it would. Regionally, a minority of respondents from Quebec (35 per cent), the Maritimes (17 per cent), B.C. (13 per cent), Ontario (8 per cent), Alberta (7 per cent) and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (4 per cent) agreed that Quebec is destined to become a country. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=5395da71-1e74-4242-ba29-a647cc45a477 ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Souveraineté - Le Québec est toujours aussi divisé Alexandre Shields Édition du lundi 23 juin 2008 Mots clés : Confédération, Souveraineté, Sondage, Canada (Pays), Québec (province) À la veille de la Fête nationale des Québécois, un coup de sonde réalisé pour le compte de l'Association des études canadiennes vient confirmer qu'ils sont toujours aussi divisés sur la question de la souveraineté. En effet, si le tiers d'entre eux estiment que leur province deviendra un jour un pays, à peine plus de la moitié croient que le Québec restera au sein de la Confédération, selon le document obtenu par Le Devoir. Les résultats de ce sondage effectué dans tout le pays montrent que 38 % des francophones sont convaincus que «le Québec est destiné à devenir un pays», dont 35 % de Québécois. Chez les anglophones, ce chiffre chute à 12 %, puis à 3 % chez les allophones. À l'inverse, 69 % des Canadiens sont d'avis que «le Québec est destiné à demeurer au sein du Canada», dont 54 % des francophones. Les répondants de toutes les catégories d'âges jugent que le Québec est «destiné» à demeurer au sein de la Confédération, exception faite des 18-24 ans, qui adhèrent à cette idée dans une proportion de 46 %. Malgré cela, à peine 19 % de ces derniers croient que la province accédera un jour à l'indépendance. Il faut toutefois souligner qu'il s'agit là de l'opinion des jeunes de l'ensemble du pays, et non seulement de celle des Québécois. Plus on avance en âge, plus les citoyens sont d'avis que la seule région francophone demeurera partie prenante de l'État canadien. Par ailleurs, la moitié des répondants québécois ont jugé que «sans le Québec, il n'y aurait pas de Canada», ce qui représente la plus forte proportion au pays. Albertains et Ontariens suivent, adhérant à cette idée respectivement à 45 % et 41 %. La moyenne nationale se situe à 42 %. Les jeunes semblent plus fortement préoccupés par cet aspect de la question de la souveraineté, puisque que 53 % des répondants de 25 à 34 ans croient que le Canada ne pourrait continuer d'exister sans le Québec. «Les réponses sont particulièrement intéressantes à la lumière de l'argument avancé par les souverainistes voulant que le Canada continuerait d'exister si le Québec le quittait, une idée défendue par les autres Canadiens, mais non par les Québécois», souligne d'ailleurs le directeur exécutif de l'Association des études canadiennes, Jack Jedwab, dans le document qui sera rendu public aujourd'hui. Le coup de sonde a été mené par la firme Léger Marketing auprès de 1507 Canadiens de 18 ans et plus, entre le 21 et le 25 mai 2008. La marge d'erreur est de 2,9 %, 19 fois sur 20. http://www.ledevoir.com/2008/06/23/195107.html
  5. A new era of prosperity RICHARD FOOT, Canwest News Service Published: 8 hours ago Boom times for have-not provinces are redrawing Canada's economic and political map. The remarkable growth is resource-driven: potash and uranium in Saskatchewan, offshore oil in Newfoundland and Labrador To find the front lines of the global commodities boom, drive an hour east from Saskatoon on the Yellowhead Highway to Lanigan, Sask., home of the world's largest potash mine. Two huge, dome-covered warehouses, each about the size of a football field, stand on the mine site, eerily empty except for a few dusty sweepings of potash on the floors. "A decade ago there would have been a mountain of potash in here," said Will Brandsema, general manager of AMEC, whose engineering firm recently completed a $400-million expansion of the mine for the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. Potash Corp.'s Lanigan mine in Saskatchewan. The price of the mineral has soared to nearly $1,000 a tonne from about $100.View Larger Image View Today, worldwide demand for the pinkish, chalk-like mineral is so great, Potash Corp. can't keep its warehouses full. In the past four years, the price of potash - the basic ingredient of fertilizer - has soared to nearly $1,000 per tonne from about $100, largely because of rising populations in China and India and their sudden appetite for high-value, fertilizer-grown food. Thanks to a quirk of geologic good fortune, Saskatchewan is filled with potash and now produces more than a quarter of the world's supply. What was for years an unremarkable export has suddenly become one of the most treasured commodities on Earth - pink gold, you might call it - which, alongside surging sales of oil, uranium and even grain, is suddenly making Saskatchewan the economic envy of the nation. About 3,000 kilometres away, another once-poor province accustomed to life on the economic fringes is also reaping a windfall from its natural resources. Skyrocketing oil prices are fuelling an extraordinary economic turnaround in Newfoundland and Labrador, where a fourth offshore oil project will soon be in development. Petrodollars are transforming St. John's from a down-at-the-heels provincial capital into a bustling energy city brimming with stylish restaurants, affluent condo developments and a sense of euphoria not seen there since cod were first discovered on the Grand Banks. "The Newfoundland and Saskatchewan economies have gone from stagnant to stellar," Statistics Canada declared in its May Economic Observer. "These two provinces have moved beyond old stereotypes and stepped into a new era of prosperity." Both provinces led the country last year in growth of exports, in the rate of housing starts and in growth of gross domestic product - the only provinces, along with Alberta, whose per capita GDP was above the national average. In June, a report by the TD Bank Financial Group called Saskatchewan "Canada's commodity superstar" and said if the province were a country, it would rank fifth in the world among member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in terms of per capita GDP. It would trail only Luxembourg, Norway, the United States and Ireland. (Alberta would come second if ranked on the same list.) John Crosbie, who announced the cod fishery's shutdown as federal fisheries minister and is now the province's lieutenant-governor, expressed the mood of many Newfoundlanders while reading his government's throne speech in March: "Ours is not the province it was two decades ago," Crosbie said. "We are - for the first time in our history - poised to come off equalization very soon. This is a stunning achievement that will reinforce the bold new attitude of self-confidence that has taken hold among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians." What do such economic shifts mean for the country as a whole, and how will the rise of two weaker provinces, coupled with the manufacturing malaise in Ontario, affect the workings of confederation? First, many economists say it's a mistake to underestimate the resilience and strength of the huge Ontario economy. They also say the surging energy economies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland face their own challenges, including cyclical commodity prices, the social costs of rapid development and severe labour shortages. Canada is already facing a labour crunch that's only going to worsen with time. In six years, said economist Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, there will be more people leaving the country's labour force than entering it. The new demand for workers in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, especially in construction and engineering, can only exacerbate the problem. In 2006, for the first time in 23 years, Saskatchewan stopped losing people, on a net basis, to other provinces, thanks to the thousands of workers streaming home from Alberta to new jobs in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and elsewhere. As job opportunities also grow in Newfoundland, and competition for skilled workers intensifies, the availability of labour will decline and the cost of it will increase, putting further pressures on the dollar and on manufacturers. The rampant growth of Canada's resource-rich economies is also expected to force changes to the federal equalization program. In April, the TD Bank forecast that Ontario, a longtime contributor to equalization, could become a recipient as early as 2010 - not because Ontario's economy is falling apart, but because it is slipping relative to the extraordinary growth of commodity-producing provinces. As the resource boom pushes the average level of provincial revenues higher, provinces like Ontario will fall below that average, and the cost of funding equalization will increase. Yet the federal government won't be able to afford the program, because Ottawa has no access to the commodity revenues that are driving up its cost; natural resource royalties flow only to the provinces. "The amount of money required for that program is going to get bigger and bigger," said Wade Locke, an economist at Memorial University in St. John's. As for Newfoundland and Labrador, over the past decade its per capita GDP has risen to $10,000 above the national average from $10,000 below - the fastest 10-year turnaround of any province in Canadian Newfoundland and Saskatchewan both reaped a bonanza last year from commodity royalties. Newfoundland posted a record $1.4-billion budget surplus; Saskatchewan announced a $641-million surplus plus a $1-billion infrastructure spending spree. While those two provinces enjoy their economic rebirth, recession stalks other regions of Canada, in particular the industrial heartland of Ontario. There, many manufacturers are struggling with high energy costs and a strong dollar, and the North American automakers - once Canada's economic engine - are shedding jobs and shutting factories. John Pollock, chairman of Electrohome Ltd. in Kitchener, Ont. - he is winding up the affairs of a once-proud consumer electronics maker forced to the sidelines by overseas competition - predicts Ontario is entering a period of perhaps a decade or more in which it will no longer drive the country's economy. "There's going to be a period of transition that's going to be tough," he said. "Ontario has supported the rest of the country - provinces like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland - for years. Maybe it's time for a shift." Global financier George Soros recently described Canada's economy as a split personality - half beleaguered by a sluggish manufacturing sector, and half enjoying the wonders of the worldwide resource boom. Never before have the fault lines between Central Canada's energy-dependent provinces and the far-flung energy-rich ones been so stark, says Brett Gartner, an economist with the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary think-tank. "Of course, Ontario's not about to fade away. It still accounts for more than 40 per cent of the national economy," Gartner said. "But let's not discount what's happening in the regions. It's quite astounding." In Saskatchewan, for example, Potash Corp., buoyed by a share price that has made it one of the leading companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is spending $3.2 billion to construct new mines and expand existing ones. Much of that work has gone to AMEC, an international engineering firm that recently refurbished a second mill at the Lanigan mine after the facility was closed in the 1980s because of lack of demand. Will Brandsema, who runs AMEC's Saskatoon office, says he can't hire engineers fast enough to fill the jobs created by mine expansions in the potash and uranium industries. Eight years ago, AMEC employed 64 people in Saskatoon; today that number is 325. "You talk about have-not provinces," he said. "Ten years ago, I spent most of my time in the office looking for business. Now I spend most of my time with human resources, looking for people to hire. "It's just amazing the growth here, and not only in potash. Thirty per cent of the world's uranium comes out of this province. And we have other commodities - oil, gas, coal and the whole agricultural side. All of these are going to grow." Saskatchewan left the ranks of equalization-receiving provinces in 2007. Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to become a "have" province this year or next, a startling change considering that the cod fishery - once the foundation of the province's economy - has not substantially reopened since its devastating closure by Ottawa in 1992. "It's currently $13 billion. It's going to be $30 billion in 10 years. The federal government doesn't have the financial wherewithal to fund that program." Yet abolishing or changing equalization, a program required by the constitution, presents huge political problems, particularly in Quebec, which receives the largest equalization payment, although the lowest per capita amount. "You're going to see some serious restructuring of equalization, but not before the next election," Locke said. "The Harper government is not going to do it." Changes to equalization, not to mention a realignment of "have" and "have-not" provinces, could also prompt a new wave of regional beefs and resentments - the bane of confederation. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is already complaining about how much his province's taxpayers contribute to national transfer programs, a system Ontario governments once supported in better economic times. Oil itself could become a flashpoint that divides the country. Public demands in Quebec, Ontario or British Columbia for a national carbon tax would now raise the ire of more than just one oil-producing province. In the meantime, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, which typically wield little weight in national discussions, could use their new economic clout to campaign for a truly effective Senate, with real power to represent regional interests. "There is some realignment of economic power occurring that will influence the national political debate," said former Newfoundland premier Brian Peckford, who now works as a business consultant in British Columbia. "Premiers' meetings, for example, won't be dominated by only a few big provinces. Smaller provinces like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland won't have to shout and demand to be heard. We'll get noticed simply by being there." Still, Peckford - who grew up in a province so poor that he remembers, as a boy, studying his schoolbooks by kerosene lamp - warns Newfoundlanders not to let their budding affluence go to their heads. "I would caution them that as they grow financially, they must also grow emotionally and socially," he said. "The last thing Newfoundland and Labrador should do is get arrogant about this, because one never knows how long it will last. "A lot of Canadians helped us after we joined confederation, so it's our turn now to contribute back." Rags to resources: First of a series Boom times for the "have-nots" are redrawing Canada's economic and political map. Next: Day 2: Flush with commodities cash, Saskatchewan revels in its rebirth. Day 3: From misfit to petro-darling: Newfoundland's remarkable transformation. Day 4: Hard times in the industrial heartland: Ontario's painful transition. Day 5: The ''curse'' of resources: Post-fortune perils. Day 6: Finding new fortunes: Quebec's industrial heartland moves on. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=6fd0d4f0-4e9c-462d-af41-4ae1b93545a0&p=3
  6. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Whole+Foods+grocery+chain+seeks+locations+Montreal/8423890/story.html#ixzz2UBTI7njo I would so love to see them here. One could only hope, if they do open Loblaws (now being rebranded as Provigo) and Metro will finally serve a better assortment of warm meals.
  7. http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/montreal-now-a-member-of-the-world-tourism-cities-federation-575257221.html MONTRÉAL, April 11, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Montréal is now officially a member of the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). This non-profit organization is a select club made up of the world's leading tourism cities, such as Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. Initiated in 2012 by Beijing, its primary objective is to promote exchanges between top international destinations and share tourism development experience. With its headquarters in China, the organization is committed to improving the attractiveness of tourism cities and promoting harmonious economic and social development in these centres. "We are delighted to see that Montréal has a seat at the table with the world's biggest tourism superpowers. This is an excellent opportunity to position our city among the very best urban destinations on the planet," said Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montréal. "Montréal will have the chance to draw inspiration from these reputed destinations to enhance its tourism potential. In addition to participating in discussions, we will seize the opportunity to forge closer ties with various Chinese institutions. China is an important market for Montréal, with very promising tourism and economic opportunities," added Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. With new direct flights to China and increased economic missions to the country, Montréal is now in an excellent position to attract more tourists from this rapidly developing country. Moreover, tourist traffic from China is expected to increase 15% annually for the next three years. About Tourisme Montréal Tourisme Montréal is responsible for providing leadership in the concerted efforts of hospitality and promotion in order to position the "Montréal" destination on leisure and business travel markets. It is also responsible for developing Montréal's tourism product in accordance with the ever-changing conditions of the market.
  8. GDS

    Office Vacancy Rates

    Vacancy rates keep rising in third quarter for Canada's commercial real estate sector, report shows (CP) – 44 minutes ago TORONTO — The amount of empty office space across Canada continued to rise in the third quarter due to higher unemployment in white-collar industries and excess inventory in some cities, a new report shows. Vacancy rates for commercial real estate are expected to keep rising "well into 2010" as the country works through the impact of the recent recession, CB Richard Ellis Ltd. said in report released Monday. Vacancy rates rose for the third straight quarter to an average of 9.4 per cent, up from 6.3 per cent for the same time last year, said the real estate services firm. "Limited new job creation in Canada's 'white-collar' industries and the addition of new inventory in two of Canada's three largest office markets are cited as reasons for the increase," according to the National Office and Industrial Trends Third Quarter Report. Commercial vacancy rates rose most noticeably Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, the report shows. Calgary's third quarter vacancy rate jumped to 13.1 per cent, from 4.7 per cent last year, due to the impacts of a slowdown in the oil and gas industry. "The city's oil and gas industry and commercial market remained inexorably linked, as players both large and small continue to recognize that even Calgary has not been immune to the country's new economic reality," the report states. In Toronto, the commercial vacancy rate rose to 9.1 per cent from 6.6 per cent last year. The vacancy rate in downtown Toronto is expected to climb further in the coming quarter as space becomes available in newly constructed office towers. In Vancouver, vacancy rates climbed to 8.9 per cent from 5.4 per cent for the same time last year. The report said Vancouver is one of the more stable markets in the country thanks to limited new development. Montreal's vacancy rate rose to 10.3 per cent from 8.3 per cent last year, while Halifax's rose to 10.2 per cent from 8.4 per cent. Vacancy rates also rose in the country's smaller office markets, specifically in suburban areas, but at a lesser rate, the report shows. It said cities with government office space also saw more stability in their commercial real estate markets. Ottawa had the lowest overall third quarter vacancy rate in the country of 5.8 per cent compared to five per cent for the same time last year, while Winnipeg's rate came in at 7.5 per cent up from 4.8 per cent last year. The overall vacancy rate in the Waterloo Region, home to such technology firms as Research in Motion (TSX:RIM), edged up slightly to 6.7 per cent from 6.4 per cent last year. The report predicts vacancy rates to keep rising in the fourth quarter and into 2010, "as Canada continues to grind its way out of the recession."
  9. jesseps

    What gives?

    (Courtesy of CBC News) Yet if you die from an overpass crushing you, your relatives get fuck all. This country is totally fucked and needs reform. That is my rant for today.
  10. Montreal's Jews aren't going anywhere By Yoni Goldstein The history of Russian Jews in Montreal, Canada, began more than a century ago, when a coalition of Jews and Christians in the city raised funds to help Jews escape from the Russian empire in the wake of an onslaught of pogroms triggered by the assassination of czar Alexander II, in March 1881. There are widely varying estimates on the current size of the Russian Jewish community in Montreal: The local Jewish federation believes there are fewer than 10,000 Russian-speaking Jews in the city, while Russian community officials claim the actual number is more than double that figure. In either case, a community center and a Russian-language biweekly newspaper attest to the fact that Russian Jews have established a vibrant community in the city (whose total Jewish population is about 100,000). Of course, as in virtually every city outside Israel where there is a Jewish presence, life for the Jews of Montreal is not without challenges. The city has been home to some minor-league anti-Semitism in the past, and the province of Quebec is proving to be mildly hostile to anyone who can't speak in French and isn't willing to learn how. But the biggest threat to Montreal Jews, the Quebec sovereignty movement of the 1970s and then later, in the early-1990s, has more recently lost favor in the eyes of more Quebecois than ever before. Now is a good time to be a Jew in Montreal. Apparently, Nativ, the formerly clandestine organization that since the 1950s has shared responsibility for bringing Jews from what is now the Former Soviet Union to Israel, and Israel's minister of strategic affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, don't agree. According to recent stories in Haaretz and the European Jewish Press service, having apparently run out of Jews still living in the FSU to bring to Israel, Nativ is planning to make a new push in North America to recruit Russian Jews there to make aliyah. Target No. 1: Montreal. It's a peculiar strategy: aiming to do business in a country that has two significant, settled communities of Russian Jews (the other being Toronto, where some 90,000 live); a country that is safe for Jews and where Jewish communities have long prospered; and a country, moreover, to which disadvantaged immigrants flock and where they are welcomed in droves, where they can experience multiculturalism and inclusiveness. When you're trying to convince people to leave peaceful, thriving Canada for a better life in the Middle East, you know you're in trouble of some kind. The only ones that look bad in this story are Nativ and Lieberman. The decision to recruit in Montreal is, at best, misguided. Worse, it demonstrates that the brand of covert immigration missions that were Nativ's bread and butter between the 1950s and 1990s is no longer needed. For 30 years, the organization was solely responsible for assisting countless Jewish escapees from the Soviet scourge, but that very important work is now finished. Jews who, under the hammer and sickle, were unable either to express themselves Jewishly, or to leave for someplace else where they would be free to do just that, are now at liberty to choose where they want to live, including Israel. In fact, Nativ's decision to choose Montreal's as its first stop in North America proves just how out of touch the organization is. (Already in Germany, Nativ has provoked a protest from Jewish communal leaders because of similar efforts there to lobby Russian-immigrant Jews to depart for Israel.) According to estimates from the city's Jewish federation, 80-85 percent of Russian Jews living in Montreal actually moved there from Israel. These people have already been the beneficiaries of Nativ once, and yet, at some later point, they decided that Israel wasn't the right place for them after all. There's no reason to think that they would consider moving back now, no matter how hard aliyah-liaison officers try to convince them. Nativ's venture into Montreal is doomed to fail because the organization's brand of cloak-and-dagger aliyah recruitment simply isn't suited to today's Jewish global village. Its employment of old-style Zionist tactics, which depict the State of Israel as representing the final stronghold against a world of Jew-haters doesn't connect with people anymore. There are, after all, other perfectly suitable homes for Jews. Montreal is one of those places. Perhaps the time has come for Israel in general to reevaluate its relationship with Diaspora Jewry and acknowledge that there are other places in the world perfectly suited to Jewish living. Once it takes that first step, the next job would be to recognize that the overall relationship between Israel and the Diaspora must change. Instead of looking at the Diaspora as a temporary home for those Jews who can't or aren't ready yet to make aliyah, Israel should invest in forming bonds with Jewish communities around the globe. Nativ, which has been reorganized and reportedly has a fat new budget, might even consider investing some of its cash in making those communities healthier, much in the same way those communities have long invested in the welfare of Israel. Montreal's Russian Jews aren't going anywhere and neither are the vast majority of Jews - Russian-speaking or otherwise - in North and South America and Europe. The sooner the Israeli government realizes that fact, the sooner it can begin to forge a new, symbiotic relationship with all the Jews outside Israel who are quite content to stay right where they are. Yoni Goldstein is an editorial writer at Canada's National Post, and a columnist at the Canadian Jewish News.
  11. Poll Finds Faith in Obama, Mixed With Patience Article Tools Sponsored By By ADAM NAGOURNEY and MARJORIE CONNELLY Published: January 17, 2009 President-elect Barack Obama is riding a powerful wave of optimism into the White House, with Americans confident he can turn the economy around but prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. The latest on the inauguration of Barack Obama and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion. While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the poll found, expectations for what Mr. Obama will actually be able to accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s problems at home and abroad. The findings suggest that Mr. Obama has achieved some success with his effort, which began with his victory speech in Chicago in November, to gird Americans for a slow economic recovery and difficult years ahead after a campaign that generated striking enthusiasm and high hopes for change. Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer. As the nation prepares for a transfer of power and the inauguration of its 44th president, Mr. Obama’s stature with the American public stands in sharp contrast to that of President Bush. Mr. Bush is leaving office with just 22 percent of Americans offering a favorable view of how he handled the eight years of his presidency, a record low, and firmly identified with the economic crisis Mr. Obama is inheriting. More than 80 percent of respondents said the nation was in worse shape today than it was five years ago. By contrast, 79 percent were optimistic about the next four years under Mr. Obama, a level of good will for a new chief executive that exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents. And it cuts across party lines: 58 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said they were optimistic about the country in an Obama administration. “Obama is not a miracle worker, but I am very optimistic, I really am,” Phyllis Harden, 63, an independent from Easley, S.C., who voted for Mr. Obama, said in an interview after participating in the poll. “It’s going to take a couple of years at least to improve the economy,” Ms. Harden added. “I think anyone who is looking for a 90-day turnaround is delusional.” Politically, Mr. Obama enjoys a strong foundation of support as he enters what is surely to be a tough and challenging period, working with Congress to swiftly pass a huge and complicated economic package. His favorable rating, at 60 percent, is the highest it has been since the Times/CBS News poll began asking about him. Overwhelming majorities say they think that Mr. Obama will be a good president, that he will bring real change to Washington, and that he will make the right decisions on the economy, Iraq, dealing with the war in the Middle East and protecting the country from terrorist attacks. Over 70 percent said they approved of his cabinet selections. What is more, Mr. Obama’s effort to use this interregnum between Election Day and Inauguration Day to present himself as a political moderate (he might use the word “pragmatist”) appears to be working. In this latest poll, 40 percent described the president-elect’s ideology as liberal, a 17-point drop from just before the election. “I think those of us who voted for McCain are going to be a lot happier with Obama than the people who voted for him,” Valerie Schlink, 46, a Republican from Valparaiso, Ind., said in an interview after participating in the poll. “A lot of the things he said he would do, like pulling out the troops in 16 months and giving tax cuts to those who make under $200,000, I think he now sees are going to be a lot tougher than he thought and that the proper thing to do is stay more towards the middle and ease our way into whatever has to be done. “It can’t all be accomplished immediately.” While the public seems prepared to give Mr. Obama time, Americans clearly expect the country to be a different place when he finishes his term at the end of 2012. The poll found that 75 percent expected the economy to be stronger in four years than it is today, and 75 percent said Mr. Obama would succeed in creating a significant number of jobs, while 59 percent said he would cut taxes for the middle class. The survey found that 61 percent of respondents said things would be better in five years; last April, just 39 percent expressed a similar sentiment. The telephone survey of 1,112 adults was conducted Jan. 11-15. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The poll suggests some of the cross-currents Mr. Obama is navigating as he prepares to take office, and offers some evidence about why he has retooled some of his positions during this period.
  12. Arianna Huffington casts her Net ever wider. Arianna Huffington's life reads like a salacious Vanity Fair profile, the contradictions of her power splayed out on every glossy page, inviting controversy. She's a millionaire who built her Huffington Post online media empire - sold to AOL a year ago for $315 million - on the unpaid work of more than 9,000 bloggers, one of whom is now suing on their behalf for one-third of the value: $105 million. She was a conservative commentator in the 1990s who recycled herself as a freethinking independent (with strong liberal views) for the 21st century. She was married for a decade to a Republican congressman, Michael Huffington, who turned out to be bisexual and started campaigning for gay rights. Author of a dozen non-fiction books, she has been accused of plagiarizing passages for three of them (including biographies of Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso). Since last November, she's being sued by two consultants who say she stole the Huffington Post idea from them back in 2004 (it launched in 2005). What else? She's a woman who has come from far, has hobnobbed with the greats and is known by the company she keeps. A brief sketch of her career arc gives an idea of the distance travelled. Born in Greece (née Stasinopoúlou); educated in England (Cambridge University); longtime lover of the late British journalist Bernard Levin (who was twice her age and, for a spell, a fellow follower of the Indian mystic Rajneesh); a New Yorker since the early 1980s and U.S. citizen since 1990; political TV comedy writer in the 1990s who worked with Al Franken and Bill Maher; unsuccessful indie candidate for California governor in 2003; parent (with her ex, Michael) of two daughters, both now in their early 20s. These days, Huffington is in expansion mode, spreading her media brand - a blend of original reporting and aggregated news and opinion from websites all around the world - to Canada, Europe and beyond. With a staff of 200 employees and its thousands of bloggers, HuffingtonPost.com gets 35 million unique visitors a month, more than the New York Times. Huffington Post Canada, the service's first foreign edition, launched online last May and, with its staff of 20 and bloggers ranging from David Suzuki to Conrad Black, has a monthly audience of more than 1.8 million. A British edition launched last July, Le Huffington Post launched in France last week, Le Huffington Post Québec launches Wednesday, a Spanish edition will begin the third week of March and an Italian one in April. There are also negotiations to start three other foreign editions this year, in Germany, Brazil and Turkey. Huffington, 61, will be in Montreal Wednesday for the launch of the French-language service here. And, true to form, she'll arrive amid a bit of controversy. As The Gazette reported this week, about a dozen Quebec luminaries - politicians like Louise Harel and Pierre Curzi, intellectuals like Normand Baillargeon, environmental activists like Steven Guilbeault - had been lined up to blog for Huffington Québec but have now withdrawn their offers to write for free. Some said they were too busy, but the reason most gave was that they preferred to be paid for their work. When I caught up with her a week ago after the launch in France, Huffington was in a typically upbeat mood, deflecting criticism in her distinctive Greek accent and nasally voice that boomed down her BlackBerry line from Davos, Switzerland. She was attending a supper of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship on the eve of the annual meeting of global leaders at the World Economic Forum. I began by asking Huffington what she plans for the new Quebec site. How will Huffington Post Québec be different from Huffington Post Canada or Huffington Post in France? Every different province or country will be rooted in the culture of the province or country, edited by local journalists. Of course, we are going to be able to leverage the French site and translate stories that are of local interest, like the U.S. election, and lifestyle stories that are more universal. We now have 50 sections in the U.S. and whether it is in style or women or books or parenting, the whole point of the site is very much to embrace the country or the province - in this case, embracing Quebec and the Québécois and what they love. And what do the Québécois love? Do you know? There's isn't just one thing - it's a very varied community. Am I right about that? Yes, but we have certain preoccupations here that are different from the rest of Canada's. Yes, of course, and the Québécois want to read about their own politicians, which is why among the many bloggers we've recruited there's Pierre Curzi (note: who in fact has since bowed out), Yves-François Blanchet, Jamie Nichols, actors like Charlotte Laurier, Évelyne de la Chenelière (note: who has also bowed out), Micheline Lanctôt, musicians. So you know, part of it is hearing from their own people and part of it is addressing their own preoccupations. You're travelling a lot these days? I am, but I think it's worth it. This is the year for us to grow internationally and it's really exciting to be in each country as we launch. We've launched Canada, which is doing incredibly well; we're launching in the U.K., then there's Spain in maybe the third week of March, then Italy in April. We're still talking with Germany, Turkey and Brazil - we don't have finalized partnerships there, but we are in conversations. Tell me about the HuffPost business model - as an aggregator and also producer of original content, including nonpaid bloggers - and what that means for journalism in the 21st century. Well, first of all, the Huffington Post is now both a journalistic enterprise and a platform. You know, we started by doing a lot more aggregating, but now we have almost 400 professional full-time journalists - reporting, breaking stories. We are here, for example (in Davos), with our executive business editor (Peter S. Goodman), who has done some of the best coverage in the States around poverty and how this is impacting the Republican primaries; when we had our political reporter covering the primaries in South Carolina, (Goodman) was covering what was happening with the issue of downward mobility there, which has been one of the issues that hasn't been adequately covered, the fate of the middle class. So what I'm saying is that we don't just do the conventional reporting that we have to do, the bread and butter, covering what everybody's covering, like the State of the Union, or in the case of Quebec, I'm sure covering the Plan Nord, the plan to exploit natural resources in northern Quebec. Whatever the Arianna Huffington issues of the moment are, we'll have to cover them obsessively, because they're of tremendous interest. But we'll need to go to the big issues, and stay on them, and basically generate interest in them. That's what we've done with series like Beyond the Battlefield, which covers the state of the returning vets from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So my point is that to describe the Huffington Post as just an aggregator now is just behind the times. You plan to have seven employees in Quebec. Will that grow over time? Of course. You know, when we launched the Huffington Post (U.S.) in May 2005, we had five staff. So the whole goal is to start small and grow, become profitable and attract advertising. In our case, that doesn't just mean advertising based on CPMs (cost per mile, or 1,000 visitors), but sponsorships, like an entire section we have now with Johnson & Johnson on global motherhood, and sponsorship of a good-news section, and sponsorship of a video series on social responsibility and, since the launch in France, sponsorships by L'Oréal and Orange. It's a different model. Our content is free, we don't have any plans to charge for anything, but the advertising that we bring in now moves way beyond the usual CPM model. How do you avoid the two coming too close together: sponsorship and what you're actually covering? Well, obviously that is very important and the key here is transparency. If we have a section that is sponsored, it transparently says so; there is no mixing up of the content, so no one is left in any doubt as to whether the section is sponsored or not. Tell me about yourself. Did you ever imagine you'd be flying around the world as a journalism executive? You mean when I was growing up in Athens, did I ever think one day I would become a blogger and that one day the Huffington Post would grow and make more babies around the world? No, I don't think so. Don't forget, I was pretty old when we launched the Huffington Post; I had already written a dozen books; I was 55 and now I'm 61. It shows that it's never too late to get involved with the Internet - or any start-up. What electronic devices do you use? I'm a BlackBerry addict. At the moment I have four BlackBerrys in front of me, because I have one for every provider for where I travel. I'm calling you on one. And of course, I have an iPad. But the one I really depend on is my BlackBerry. I have to send you a piece I wrote on the time I lost my BlackBerry in the Mediterranean. It fell into the sea. You just launched in France. How did the appointment of editorial director Anne Sinclair (ex-TF1 TV news host and wife of disgraced ex-International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn) go over with the media there? Oh, actually, amazing. We were all surprised by how positive the reception was at the press conference, where there were 260 journalists and two dozen cameras and television cameras. She's a professional journalist with tremendous cachet in France, and she herself had developed the business strategy of TF1 when she was there in the 1990s, and then had her own blog during the 2008 presidential race. Beyond that, I think there was something else that we were surprised by: If you go to her Facebook page in France, there are all these dozens of women who, even before we launched, came on her page and went (apropos of the DSK scandal): "Go, Anne, it makes it easier for us to get up after an ordeal and get back into the arena." Very often, especially for women, after a setback or a defeat or whatever it is, we want to hide ourselves under the covers. She instead has entered the arena again and been passionate and incredibly dedicated to learning everything and being involved in every aspect of the launch. You seem to have a knack for finding high-profile people to work for you. Is that part of the secret of your success? Well, we have high-profile people and we have thousands of people nobody had heard of before. And that's another thing that I love: being able to provide a platform to people who may already have their own blogs but who can cross paths with us and amplify their voices. A lot of the blogs we have in France now are people like Catherine Cerisey, who's tracking her own struggle with breast cancer, and suddenly this is getting all this traffic that is attracting attention to her own story. Arianna Huffington will launch Le Huffington Post Québec with a news conference Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Gault Hotel in Old Montreal; she'll be joined by her Quebec editor, Patrick White, and two top executives of parent company AOL Canada. From noon to 2 p.m., she'll attend a luncheon at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel and speak on How Social Media Are Transforming the World; the event is organized by CORIM (Montreal Council on Foreign Relations); tickets start at $75 and advance registration is required; for more details, visit http://www.corim.qc.ca. A WINDOW ON LE HUFFINGTON POST QUÉBEC Owned by: AOL Huffington Post Media Group Language: French Headquarters (until April): 24th floor of 1000 de la Gauchetière St., Montreal Editor: Patrick White Staff: 7 Freelancers: 15 Bloggers: 120 Some who will blog for free: Charlotte Laurier, Claude Carignan, Louis Bernard. Some who decided not to blog: Louise Harel, Jean Barbe, Évelyne de la Chenelière Launch date: Wednesday Expected audience: 200,000 unique visitors per month Percentage of Quebecers who have never heard of Huffington Post: 82 (November 2011 poll) Sources: Huffington Post, The Gazette Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Arianna+Huffington+casts+ever+wider/6101339/story.html#ixzz1lQYt06nG
  13. A new vision for the country? Harper's federation of fiefdoms will drive Canadian traditionalists nuts LAWRENCE MARTIN From Thursday's Globe and Mail July 31, 2008 at 9:21 AM EDT Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been knocked for not giving the country a sense of direction, for visionlessly plotting and plodding, politics being his only purpose. Not true. Something has been taking shape - and it just took further form with pledges from Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon on the dispersal of federal powers. Yes, Matilda, the Conservatives have a vision. A federation of fiefdoms. Stephen Harper - headwaiter to the provinces. The firewall guy has curbed the federal spending power, he's corrected the so-called fiscal imbalance in favour of the provinces, he's doled out new powers to Quebec and now, if we are to believe Mr. Cannon, more autonomy is on the way for one and all. Mr. Harper has always favoured a crisp reading of the Constitution. He has always been - and now it really shows - a philosophical devolutionist. His nation-of-duchies approach will drive Canadian traditionalists bananas. They will see it not as nation building, but nation scattering. They will roll out that old bromide about the country being more than the sum of its parts. They will growl that we are already more decentralized than the Keystone Kops and any other federation out there save Switzerland, and that only rigorous paternal oversight can hold us together. But do these long-held harmonies still hold? Or are they outmoded, in need of overhaul? Has the country not moved beyond its vulnerable adolescent era to the point where now, like a normal family, it can entrust its members with more responsibilities? After 141 years, is there not a new sense of trust and maturity in the land? Identity? History is identity. If you don't know who you are at 141, if you still think some provinces have stars and stripes in their eyes, the shrink is in the waiting room. Now even Liberals don't think the new Canada is as dependent on the centre as the old. The old parts were fragile, in need of nurturing, in need of national and protectionist policies. But now there is more wealth and more equality, a levelling of the braying fields. Little guys like Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, with their newfound riches, are no longer little guys. They are not as beholden and their new level of maturity requires new thinking in Ottawa. Treat them like teenagers and they'll be more inclined to rebel. Give them space and they'll be more inclined to be part of the whole. Not to say that a balkanization of the federation is in order. Not to say that you want a host of provinces running off and negotiating treaties with other countries or that you want better north-south transportation systems than east-west or that national programs are not worthwhile. But a recognition of modern realities is in order. When we get more meat on the bones of Mr. Harper's plans, we'll know how they stack up. There's plenty of room for cynicism. It's well known that the PM will do anything to woo Quebec politically. Letting the province negotiate a unilateral labour-mobility agreement with France can be seen as some rather timely toadying. Shouldn't he be doing more for labour mobility between Ontario and Quebec? Extending his autonomy push to other regions smacks of smart politics as well. Headwaiter to the provinces? How about head cashier at the polling booths. Westerners will lovingly see it as a kick at the Toronto-Ottawa dictatorship. It's gravy for la belle province and down East, loud guys like Danny Williams won't be complaining. The PM needed something to take the focus away from Stéphane Dion's attention-grabbing Green Shift. This raw-boned conservative stuff might do the trick. Joe Clark was the original headwaiter to the provinces. Pierre Trudeau mocked him mercilessly. But of course it was Mr. Trudeau's great centralist grab, the national energy program, that backfired. Brian Mulroney undid some of Mr. Trudeau's work and tried to go further with his province-friendly constitutional accords. Under Jean Chrétien, the Grits got in the act, forsaking economic nationalism. Mr. Harper is following and hastening the trend line. We needed - thank you, England - grandparents. We needed - thank you, John A. - a national policy. We needed measures to keep us independent of the United States and our social security systems and national institutions. Thank you, other leaders. All part of growing up. But now? Noteworthy is that while in more recent times we have seen a trend away from centralized powers, unity is now well intact. Many would argue the country is more unified today than at any time since 1967. The big centre is still needed. It's still needed for infrastructure, uniform social programs, defence and multifarious other initiatives. But, with the old family having a better sense of its bearings, it isn't needed the way it was before.
  14. Kids will walk without Quebec turnabout KONRAD YAKABUSKI Globe and Mail March 20, 2008 at 6:00 AM EDT Jacques Ménard has got a batting average that has earned him a reputation as the Alex Rodriguez of Quebec investment banking. As Bank of Montreal's Quebec president and chief rainmaker at BMO Nesbitt Burns, Mr. Ménard has been handed some of the toughest M&A mandates Canadian business has ever seen. Yet, like Yankees sensation A-Rod, Mr. Ménard has knocked more than his fair share out of the park. TSX Group's recent $1.3-billion deal to buy an initially hostile Montreal Exchange probably wouldn't have happened – or at least not as quickly – without him. Power Financial's $4-billion (U.S.) purchase, through its Great-West Lifeco unit, of Putnam Investments bore his fingerprints, too. If baseball metaphors come to mind, it's probably because Mr. Ménard saved the sputtering Montreal Expos – twice. In 1991, he put together a group of Quebec Inc. bigwigs to buy the team from Charles Bronfman. And as Expos chairman in 1999, Mr. Ménard negotiated the financially strapped team's sale to Jeffrey Loria, once again preserving major league baseball in Montreal. Even the best strike out now and then, though. Mr. Ménard, now 62, couldn't stop the Expos from ultimately leaving in 2004. And BMO's Quebec team couldn't work miracles for Alcoa in its doomed attempt to buy Alcan last year. Mr. Ménard can accept the occasional walk. It's getting pulled from the batting line-up that really gets his goat. That is essentially what happened when Quebec Premier Jean Charest summarily shelved the 2005 report on the province's cash-sucking health care system that was tabled by a task force led by Mr. Ménard. The latter watched with similar frustration last month as Mr. Charest did the same thing with the recommendations – including higher consumption taxes and user fees – of yet another government-commissioned task force to plug the province's health care black hole. Health care expenses account for 44 per cent of Quebec's program spending. They're headed toward almost 70 per cent by But with the highest debt per capita, highest taxes, shortest workweek, most generous social safety net, lowest productivity growth and most rapidly aging population in Canada, Quebec is already struggling to stay afloat. What kind of future does that suggest for the young Quebeckers who will be left to pick up the tab for the hip replacements and Cialis their baby boomer grandparents seem to consider a God-given right? Hence, Mr. Ménard's cri du coeur in the form of a book, out this week, titled Si on s'y mettait (rough translation: If We Got Busy With It). Part reality check, part road map to growth, Mr. Ménard's essay is aimed primarily at the generation between 18 and 35. They vote far less than their elders, seemingly resigned to watching the politicians of their parents' generation mortgage their future. Few Quebec business leaders these days are willing to go public with their disillusionment with Mr. Charest's failure to tackle such problems. Not Mr. Ménard. “It's astounding the extent to which Quebec's poverty jumps out at you when you come back from a trip abroad,” Mr. Ménard writes, comparing Quebec to a “developing country whose roads have been literally abandoned for generations.” Mr. Ménard dismisses the so-called “Quebec model” of extensive social programs as “a Cadillac with a Lada motor.” The debate over the sustainability of Quebec's public services, given the province's relative demographic and economic decline, has been turning in circles for years. In that respect, the most useful contribution of Mr. Ménard's book probably comes from polling data on young Quebeckers and Canadians the author commissioned himself. It's long been thought that the language barrier and Quebeckers' attachment to their distinct culture is a natural barrier against their mobility. Indeed, governments seem to take for granted that francophone Quebeckers will never leave home. Mr. Ménard's research tells a very different story. Not only are young Quebeckers more outward-looking than their English-Canadian peers, they're more willing to move for a better job. More than half (51 per cent) of Quebeckers between 18 and 35 say they like the idea of working in a foreign country, compared with 43 per cent in the rest of Canada. Forty-five per cent of young Quebeckers say they would “without hesitation” leave Quebec to work elsewhere if a more interesting or better-paying job came up. So, if the best and brightest leave, who's going pay for the boomers' new hips? A wealthy investment banker like Mr. Ménard doesn't have to personally worry about that – leading his critics in Quebec's still-powerful union movement to charge that his policy prescriptions are just part of the same old right-wing agenda to privatize public services. Mr. Ménard denies that. He admits, though, to having his own selfish reasons for writing the book: “I'd like to watch my grandkids grow up without having to go through airports … Mea culpa. I've a got a conflict of interest.” http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080319.wyakabuski0320/BNStory/Business/home
  15. Newbie

    Canada 2011 Census

    I'm creating this thread mainly to comment on the long-form census controversy from a non-political point of view. As a mathematician who probably cares and knows less about Canadian politics than anyone else in this forum, this is my opinion: A voluntary survey is completely USELESS, and even more so after it became the subject of a nationwide political debate. An anti-conservative friend of mine wrote last week on facebook that he returned the short form and demanded a long form be sent to him. He thought he was making some kind of statement, but he is actually helping to make the survey even more useless. I don't really blame him, since there is no way to make the long-form data meaningful anymore. It's better if we just forget about it, but I still have a question: how does this happen in a country full of smart people like Canada? I find it a bit scary actually. I would love to know your opinions on the subject.
  16. Growth in mining sector reshaping Quebec economy BARRIE MCKENNA OTTAWA— Globe and Mail Blog Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:48PM EDT http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/growth-in-mining-sector-reshaping-quebec-economy/article2370299/ Think of the Quebec economy, and the traditional drivers are energy, forestry and manufacturing. But there’s a new engine in Quebec – mining – and it’s reshaping the economy of both the province, and the country. Investment in the province’s mining industry is expected to reach $4.4-billion this year, up 62 per cent from 2011. That’s nearly equal to the capital that will be poured into manufacturing ($5-billion), a remarkable 27 per cent of all business investment in the province and represents half of all mining investment in the country, according to a National Bank of Canada analysis of recent Statistics Canada figures. “That’s never happened before,” National Bank of Canada chief economist Stéfane Marion said in an interview. “It’s a huge growth driver for the province this year, and in the future.” It’s not the only first. Quebec will lead the country in mining investment this year, outpacing Ontario, Mr. Marion said. Mining investment is expected to hit $3.7-billion in Ontario, $2.8-billion in B.C. and $500-million in Alberta. For Quebec, the money pouring into dozens of iron ore, gold, copper and other mining projects could add a full percentage to GDP this year and cause an unexpected boost in royalty revenue for the cash-strapped government. It will also have spinoff benefits for Montreal-area manufacturers, who will help supply mining-related equipment. But Mr. Marion said there are broader implications. The Quebec economy is starting to look a lot more like the booming resource-rich provinces of the West. “This is a material change in the industrial structure of Quebec,” Ms. Marion said. “It brings the interests of Western Canada and Quebec into line. It’s not just a pure Western Canada story now. It’s spreading to Eastern Canada.” Quebec is also positioning itself to capitalize on the growing resource appetite in China and other fast-growing emerging economies, he said. And the good news: The mining boom is just getting started as Quebec plots its 25-year “Plan Nord” strategy.
  17. Excellent texte de François Cardinal (de La Presse) sur pourquoi Montréal devrait avoir un statut spécial : Manifesto for a city-state Montreal has paid the price for being treated like just another region. Quebec’s economic hub deserves better. François Cardinal Policy Options, November 2013 Far from being a land of forests, plains and prairies, Canada is an urban country. Nearly 70 percent of the population lives in urban centres and more than 90 percent of demographic growth is concentrated in those metropolitan areas. These proportions put Canada at the top of the world’s most urbanized nations. And yet all of Canada’s cities, from Montreal to Toronto, Calgary and even Ottawa, are neglected by federal and provincial political parties. They are short-changed by electoral maps. All are forced by the provinces to labour under a tax system that dates from the horse-and-buggy age. All are relegated to the status of lowly “creatures” subject to the whims and dictates of higher levels of government. It’s as if the country has not yet come to terms with the changes it has undergone since its founding. “Cities do not exist under the Constitution, since it was drawn up in 1867 when we were a rural, agricultural country,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi pointed out when I interviewed him at City Hall. “But today the country is highly urbanized, a fact that, unfortunately, is not reflected in the relations higher levels of government maintain with the cities.” The 2011 federal election offered a good example of this oversight. Every party targeted the “regions,” those wide-open spaces of rural and small-town Canada. The Conservatives’ slogan in French was “Notre région au pouvoir” [Our region in power]. The Liberals cited “rural Canada” as a priority but barely mentioned urban Canada. The Bloc used the slogan “Parlons régions” [Let’s talk about regions] but had no urban equivalent for the metropolis. More critically, the parties felt compelled to appeal to voters in the regions by positioning themselves in opposition to the cities. The most glaring instance came during the French leaders’ debate, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper castigated Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff over his promise to build a new Champlain Bridge. “I would not take Mr. Ignatieff’s approach and divert money from the regions to finance infrastructure for Montreal,” Harper said. The Liberals were not much better. They pledged to develop a plan for public transportation but never specified what it would look like. They promised support for social housing but said they would take the money out of funds for urban infrastructure. The reason for this is not rocket science. With the big-city vote so thoroughly predictable, the parties focus on rural areas or the suburbs where they believe their policies might swing votes. They rarely target the city centres. At the provincial level, the situation is pretty much the same. In fact, the Quebec government was able to relieve Montreal of its “metropolis” title and its dedicated ministry nearly 10 years ago without raising eyebrows. Thus Montreal became just one “region” among all the rest: Administrative Region 06. In the 2012 election in Quebec, Montreal did move up a notch. There was more discussion about the city. But since then, unfortunately, good intentions have been replaced by a charter of Quebec values, which has been broadly criticized in Montreal. Imposing it confirms the implicit trusteeship under which the government rules the metropolis. But even more than urban centres elsewhere in the country, Quebec’s parties have limited reason to take an interest in the city. Montreal is either politically safe (for the provincial Liberals) or a lost cause (for the Parti Québécois). In short, Quebec is no different from other Canadian provinces in treating its major city like a big village that must be attended to, certainly, but not more than any other municipality. The cost of showing the city favour is to risk losing precious votes in rural areas. But major cities are no longer the same municipalities they were in the past. Today, Montreal and Toronto are expected to compete with Paris and New York. They are expected to attract and hold onto businesses, court foreign creative talent, draw more private investment and deliver more and more services to residents, from social housing to public transportation. Providing support services for recent immigrants, developing the knowledge-based economy, building social housing, dealing with antigovernment demonstrations and adapting to climate change are all responsibilities that now fall to cities. They are nothing like the urban “creatures” of the 19th century. Lucien Bouchard could not have been more clear when he said in his 1996 inauguration speech after being elected premier: “There can be no economic recovery in Quebec without a recovery in Quebec’s metropolis.” For once, it appeared the government of Quebec was going to recognize Montreal’s special character and grant it preferential treatment. “The complexity of the city’s problems calls for special treatment and even, I would say, for the creation of a specific metropolitan authority,” Bouchard continued. It seemed as if he was about to usher in an exciting new era. There was now a minister responsible for “the metropolis.” A development commission was set up for the Montreal metropolitan area and it was to be invested with significant powers. A true decentralization of power was in the offing. An economic development agency, Montréal International, was created at this time, as was the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT). But just when it appeared Montreal was going to receive special attention and treatment, the government’s old habits returned with a vengeance. Like a parent who has given too much to one child, the Quebec government decided to restore the balance by giving to the regions with its left hand what it had given Montreal with its right. A local and regional development support policy was introduced in 1997. Then the Ministry of Regions was created and local development centres set up. A few months later, they added government measures for the province’s three metropolitan areas and then, finally, measures for all urban areas. “The reforms demonstrate, once again, the government’s efforts to address Montreal’s specificity without neglecting the needs of the rest of Quebec,” political scientist Mariona Tomàs explained in her fine book Penser métropolitain? But the result was a government policy similar to the previous ones, an across-the-board approach based on a view of Quebec as a collection of communities, rather than a province organized around its main economic hub. “The government’s desire to maintain a territorial balance can be seen in the powers of metropolitan structures,” Tomàs observed. “The law provided the same types of powers for all the urban communities created in 1969, and then for all the metropolitan communities in 2000.” Giving the rural Outaouais region the same powers as Greater Montreal reduces the latter to just one region among many. To this way of political thinking, the metropolis must not be allowed to overshadow any other town, must not be given too much. It cannot receive more attention than others, and cannot be elevated above any other. Canada’s “hub cities,” those few major urban centres like Montreal, are the drivers of economic activity in the country. That was the conclusion of a recent Conference Board study, which pointed to the collateral benefits of a thriving metropolis. It found that strong growth in metropolitan areas spurs growth in neighbouring communities and then in the whole province. But how can Montreal play its role as an economic driver if it is not treated as such? We need only look outside the country to be convinced that we need to roll out the red carpet for the metropolis: to the United States, where big cities have the attention of the country’s leaders; to Asia, where the treatment of major centres sometimes borders on obsessiveness; or even to France, a country that, like Quebec, is marked by a deep divide between “the metropolis” and “the provinces.” France provided a telling illustration of this awareness in early 2013, a few months after François Hollande’s Socialist government took office. Although France was in dire straits, burdened by crushing public debt and being forced to reconsider the fate of its precious social programs, Hollande did not think twice about launching a project of heroic proportions to relieve congestion in Paris. The price tag: the equivalent of $35 billion for a brand new “super metro,” plus $10 billion to extend and upgrade the existing system. Was this completely crazy? On the contrary. Hollande was being logical and visionary. France understands the importance of investing in its metropolis. This is a country that is ready to look after its towns and villages, while not being afraid to give Paris preferential treatment. “A strong Paris is in the interest of the provinces,” commented L’Express magazine in March 2013. Quite so. The article notes, for example, that much of the income generated in Paris is actually spent in the rest of the country. All financial roads — tourism, commuting for work, national redistribution, whatever — all lead to Paris, with benefits to the provinces. L’Express cites the case of Eurodisney to illustrate. Disney had hesitated before settling on building its amusement park in Paris — not between contending French cities, but between Paris and Barcelona. Herein lie the value and importance for the entire country of having a strong metropolis. “Weakening Paris would slow France’s locomotive,” argued L’Express. “And in a train, the cars seldom move faster than the locomotive.” Clearly, what Montreal needs is special treatment, more autonomy and more diverse sources of revenue. In short, it needs a premier who will stand on the balcony of City Hall and proclaim: “Vive Montréal! Vive Montréal libre!” Worryingly, the current state of affairs in Montreal — the revelations and insinuations of political corruption and collusion — is prompting many observers to call for the Quebec government to take the opposite tack and tighten the city’s reins. According to this view, more provincial government involvement is needed to check the city’s propensity for vice. But in fact the only way to make the city more responsible and more accountable is to give it greater power, wider latitude and more money. Montreal’s problem is that it has all the attributes of a metropolis but is treated as an ordinary municipality, subservient to the big boss, the provincial government. Its masters are the minister of municipal affairs, the minister’s colleagues at other departments involved in the city’s affairs and, of course, the premier. Montreal is under implicit trusteeship. This encourages, even promotes a lack of accountability on the part of the municipal administration, which is only half in charge. “It’s not complicated: Montreal is currently a no man’s land of accountability,” says Denis Saint-Martin, political science professor at the Université de Montréal. “There is a political and organizational immaturity problem, which explains the political irresponsibility we have seen in recent years. Montreal needs more power, not less. Montreal needs to be more accountable, more answerable.” Essentially, the metropolis needs to be treated like one, with the powers and revenues that go along with city status. Montreal is a beggar riding in a limousine. Invariably, after a municipal election, the incoming mayor announces a wish list and then gets the chauffeur to drive him up provincial Highway 20 to Quebec City to knock on the provincial government’s door with outstretched hands, hoping for a little largesse. Montreal’s mayor has to beg because the past offloading of responsibilities for delivering services to citizens onto the municipality has not been accompanied by new money. “In Quebec, the province is responsible for much of the regulatory apparatus under which cities operate, which the cities feel restricts their autonomy,” said political scientist Laurence Bherer in 2004, speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Université Laval political science department. “And far from decreasing in recent years, provincial intervention has spread to a variety of areas such as the environment and public security, further relegating the cities to the role of operative rather than architect.” It is unacceptable for the provincial government to be the “operator” of a metropolis. That is why municipalities are rightfully seeking greater autonomy and greater freedom of action from their provincial masters. This is what is starting to happen in other provinces: in Alberta, with its Municipal Government Act, with British Columbia’s Community Charter and especially in Ontario, with the City of Toronto Act, which reads in part: “The [Ontario Legislative] Assembly recognizes that the City of Toronto, as Ontario’s capital city, is an economic engine of Ontario and of Canada.” The Ontario government appears to understand the special role Toronto plays in the wider economy. The City of Toronto Act goes on to say, “The Assembly recognizes that the City plays an important role in creating and supporting economic prosperity and a high quality of life for the people of Ontario [and] that the City is a government that is capable of exercising its powers in a responsible and accountable fashion.” Quebec’s largest city deserves similar treatment: strict accountability in exchange for recognition of its status as an autonomous government and the ability to tap more diverse sources of revenue. Indeed the main reason Montreal is regularly forced to pass the hat in Quebec City is its heavy dependence on property taxes for its income. As a creature of the province, it still operates under the good-old British tax model that sees it derive the bulk of its revenues — 67 percent — from property taxes. This was not a problem a hundred years ago, when Montreal provided only property services to its residents. But its responsibilities have expanded. The standards imposed by Quebec City have proliferated, and the portion of the budget allocated for services to individuals has grown considerably. Yet its tax base remains just as dependent on a single sector: real estate. This situation has a huge drawback. The City does not share the economic benefits that it generates. It might well pour money into the Formula One Grand Prix and summer festivals, invest in attracting conventions and tourists, renovate public spaces to make the urban environment more attractive and friendly. But it will get not a penny back. On the contrary: these investments only increase the city’s expenses in maintenance, security and infrastructure, while the federal and provincial governments reap the sales taxes. Take the city’s jazz festival. Montreal has to pay for security, site maintenance, public transportation to bring visitors to the site, and must deal with the event’s impact on traffic. In return, it gets happy festival-goers and tourists who spend money, stay at hotels, eat at restaurants — and fill provincial and federal coffers with sales tax revenues. They enrich the governments in Quebec City and in Ottawa, but not Montreal, which picks up the tab for the costs. The result is that the hole into which large cities are quietly sinking gets deeper. Big-city economies are dematerializing. The knowledge-based economy, in which Montreal shines, is based on innovation, research and brains, not factories. But for now, grey matter is not subject to property tax. Add to the mix an aging population with more modest housing needs, the increase in teleworking, self-employment and e-commerce, and you have a Montreal that is not only under implicit administrative trusteeship but also in an increasingly precarious financial position. And then people wonder why our metropolis is not playing the role it should be playing. another region. Quebec’s economic hub deserves better.
  18. The tallest hotel in the country was finished last year. No it's not in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or even Edmonton. It is in Niagara Falls! It is 58 floors, 177 meters!
  19. From Canadian citizenship and immigration website at http://www.cic.gc.ca http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/statistics/facts2006/permanent/21.asp Since 1997, Quebec's (90% of them settle in Montreal) immigration has increased by over 60%. For the year 2006, we had over 44,000 permanent residents added to Quebec's population, which is a record I believe. Here is the stat by city http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/statistics/facts2006/permanent/18.asp Montreal beats Vancouver in terms of number of immigrants received. According to the website, Toronto is not getting the same volume it once received. Yet it still gets around 100,000 a year. Given our exodus of "cerveauxs" to the Western parts of the country, we need to increase immigration as our baby boomers are set to the retire within two decades. I hope this doesnt piss off the reasonable accomodations people.
  20. The food court king He's conquered the malls — now Stanley Ma is ready to take on the Street. By Joanna Pachner It's 12:45 p.m. on a weekday in May at the Place Vertu food court, and the only counter with a lineup is Thai Express. The 1970s–era shopping centre in Montreal's Saint–Laurent suburb has seen better days but, in at least one way, it's cutting–edge: unbeknownst to the diners, this food court serves as a laboratory for MTY Food Group, where it develops and perfects its new fast–food concepts. The company, whose office is located kitty–corner to the mall, currently has eight banners here, and the landlord allows it to test new formats when a location opens up. MTY's most recent introductions—Tandori, Kim Chi Korean Delight and Vie&Nam—were all fine–tuned at Place Vertu. With 21 different dining options, the food court, like those in most other large malls, resembles an international food bazaar, a huge change from what peckish shoppers would have found a few decades ago. "When I started 30 years ago, you'd have Chinese, Italian, a burger place and maybe one more, and that'd be it," says Stanley Ma, MTY's founder and chief executive. "Now you walk in and say, 'Wow! I have $20. What am I going to have today?'" No one has been more responsible for this transformation than Ma. The Hong Kong immigrant has developed, licensed or acquired 26 brands of quick–service fare—from Mexican to Japanese, from doughnut to health nut—and he's busy expanding his smorgasbord. Already the most diversified food franchisor in the country, MTY has quickened its pace of growth in the past three years, during which it almost doubled its number of outlets. Last year's surprising acquisition of Country Style Food Services Holdings, Ontario's second–largest coffee chain, boosted MTY's store count by nearly 50%, and the most recent addition—Quebec hot–dogs–and–fries specialist Groupe Valentine, a deal that closed earlier this month—has brought the total to more than 1,700 restaurants that ring in about US$400 million in annual sales. The company bought three chains in 2009 alone, and launched four internally developed banners within the past two years. It's not just the growth that's impressing industry observers but the company's consistently strong performance. MTY's most recent quarterly results widely beat market expectations. "It's an extremely well–run business," says Leon Aghazarian, a consumer products analyst with Industrial Alliance Securities in Montreal. "Stanley is very experienced. The strength lies there." Yet while Ma has made no secret of his acquisitive hunger, he's a growth–focused entrepreneur with a deeply conservative streak. He eschews debt. He only buys profitable players with clear synergies for MTY. And he's wary of easy money. When restaurant franchisors converted en masse to income trusts a decade ago, he resisted calls to follow suit. Now, with trusts set to lose their preferential tax treatment next year, the sector is scrambling for alternatives and "I look like a genius," says Ma with a chortle. More important, his rivals' predicament positions MTY, long an industry consolidator, to take advantage of those who'd rather sell than face the cost of another conversion. A middle–aged man with a formal manner occasionally lightened by corny jokes, Ma isn't rushing into any hasty unions. Known as a very private individual who says no to suitors much more than he says yes, he seems to prefer to fly under the market's radar. Few people outside the industry have heard of him or his company, and investor interest remains muted despite the rapid proliferation of MTY banners. A teenage immigrant from Hong Kong (his English remains heavily accented and he doesn't speak French), Ma opened his first venue, a Chinese and Polynesian restaurant, in 1979, at the age of 29. Within a few years, however, he switched to fast–food franchising—then a novel business model in Canada—seeing an opportunity in supplying immigrants like himself with a chance to run their own operations. Food courts presented ideal locations for new brands with little name recognition, since consumers tend to choose where they take their trays based on gustatory whim rather than brand loyalty. As such, there is little need for marketing beyond mouth–watering menu boards and frequently changing specials. And, as Ma added new banners to his original Chinese chain Tiki Ming, he was able to leverage his landlord relationships. "He would typically own the lease, so if one brand didn't work out, he could put in another," says Brian Pow, vice–president of research at Acumen Capital Finance Partners in Calgary and a longtime MTY watcher. Ma's dominance of shopping malls and cinemas bestowed on him the moniker "king of food courts." Ma's early ambition was to be able to drive from Montreal to Quebec City and stop every hour at one of his outlets. While most Canadian restaurant companies have either a single brand (like A&W or Pizza Pizza) or a handful they oversee as a master franchisee (Priszm Income Fund, for example, is the Canadian parent to KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), MTY's multiplying offerings allowed it to match the cuisine to each location and demographic. Ma has tended to look for master franchisees with strong financial know–how and expansionist ambitions. MTY simply collects royalties, with little need for capital investment, says Aghazarian. "The business is a cash cow. There is almost no risk associated with it." This low–risk philosophy is how MTY ended up in the Middle East, of all places. In the mid–2000s, the company was approached by a restaurant operator serving the Arab Emirates who was looking to franchise three of its banners. The relationship has since grown to encompass seven brands and several nearby countries, but MTY is protected: it doesn't sign the leases and has no liability exposure. "Even if it flops, it won't damage MTY's image here," says Aghazarian. Nevertheless, the region is on track to account for 5% of MTY's stores by year–end. So when, in April of 2009, MTY bought Country Style, observers found the deal uncharacteristically rife with pitfalls—an also–ran brand in a highly competitive market. It was also an unusually large acquisition for MTY. Still, the chain had been sprucing up its stores since it emerged from bankruptcy protection seven years earlier, adopting a format similar to market leader Tim Hortons. For MTY, which ran Yogen Früz and Cultures banners in Ontario but was largely clustered in Quebec, Country Style represented a quick surge within Canada's biggest province. Ma also saw co–branding opportunities, and within months of purchase, he started teaming more than a dozen Country Styles with his TCBY yogurt chain. Other pairings will follow. He points out that in a 3,000–square–foot store, Country Style can do $600,000 per year in revenue and, say, Thai Express another $750,000, thus raking in $1.3 million from a single venue. The approach fits MTY's operating philosophy: "The returns are good, the investment small," says Ma. Ma's long been interested in the coffee sector. "Coffee is a good business," he says, tenting his fingers thoughtfully. "The profit margins are very good, and it will help MTY's other brands because of the buying power of the coffee bean." MTY had looked at Country Style several years earlier but walked away. Ma won't specify the reasons—"I don't want to hurt the feelings of other people we dealt with," he says in his typically courtly manner—but it came down to sticker shock. By 2009, Country Style's revamp was further along and MTY had greater financial means, says Ma. "I also felt comfortable with the Country Style management." (Rick Martens, who has run the chain since it emerged from bankruptcy protection, remains at the helm.) Since the takeover, MTY's operating expertise has proven useful. Observers say that Ma has trimmed slack in distribution and at the head office. Ma simply observes: "If you're a hockey player and become a coach, you know it makes sense to do it this way because you know what it's like." Acumen's Pow, however, questions whether the Country Style game plan has played out as smoothly as Ma claims. "It's been a big challenge for Country Style to cater to a different audience with a different product mix," he says. "And Stanley's idea that he could bring in other brands, I don't think it's been as successful as he'd hoped. [The transition] has been longer and slower than expected." Ma has grown accustomed by now to strategic second–guessing. The pressure was at its height back in the early 2000s, when numerous financiers were banging the drum for him to convert to a royalty trust, in which cash distributions are set as a percentage of top–line revenue. "When we trade over $2, they say, 'You're ready [to convert],'" recalls Ma. "When we trade over $5, they say, 'I guarantee, Stanley, if you convert, you'll go to $8.' Then they say, 'Stanley, if you don't go to income trust, don't come to see me anymore.'" Ma clearly relishes having been proven right, though he had no inkling about Ottawa's tax treatment flip–flop. His motivation was simply to use his cash to grow the company without taking on debt. When he was first urged to make MTY a trust, he had fewer than 200 stores. "I thought they were pushing MTY to run too fast," he says. One of MTY's strengths is its willingness and ability to respond to consumers' changing tastes. Of the 26 brands MTY controls today, 10 were developed in–house to exploit new trends. The past few years have been all about Asian food, says Ma—Korean, Indian, Vietnamese. Thai Express became MTY's most successful brand after Ma bought the small chain in 2004 and merged it with his nascent Pad Thai. Meanwhile, pizza and Italian food more broadly are in decline. But for all that ethnic variety, the single best–selling fast–food item remains french fries. And that happens to be the strong suit of Groupe Valentine, a 95–store, family–run chain based in small–town Saint–Hyacinthe east of Montreal. Valentine mainly serves rural and suburban markets—areas where MTY has little presence and wants more. And though MTY has a competing banner in the 20–store Franx Supreme, Franx has been a performance laggard. According to MTY spokesman Jean–Francois Dubé, Franx will likely be merged with Valentine, and then under the Valentine name will venture into Ontario, where Franx has one location and Valentine has none. Ma is eager to keep growing his Ontario business where, thanks to the Country Style purchase, MTY now has 41% of its stores—more than in Quebec. He gained a foothold out west, meanwhile, with the 2008 purchase of Canadian rights to American banner Taco Time. However, he has no plan to head across the border, despite another chorus of investment bankers pushing him on. "I believe the States is a dangerous place for retailers," says Ma. "It's a different animal, has different rules, mentality." Canada still has lots of room for MTY, he argues. Instead, he wants to reach 2,000 locations before he considers an American expansion. Besides, Ma may get tasty opportunities amid the income trust shakeout. Ottawa's move to phase out trusts depressed many restaurant operators' shares, as investors assumed no other structure would be as lucrative and the roughly half–a–million cost of conversion to a corporation would cut into profits. Most food franchisors, like MTY, rely on royalty fees paid by franchisees and so lack assets they can depreciate to offset taxes. "These structures are not viable post–tax," wrote Turan Quettawala, a Scotia Capital analyst, in a 2009 report. Nevertheless, some—including Pizza Pizza, Boston Pizza and A&W—have opted to remain trusts for now. Prime Restaurant Royalty Income Fund (owner of East Side Mario's and Casey's, among others) and Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc. (Pizza Delight, Baton Rouge), meanwhile, have chosen to convert to corporations. So far, there haven't been many deals. Private equity, which prefers operating control, has shown little interest. Will MTY make a move? "There's definite potential for them to move in on one of the pizza guys," says Aghazarian, and Priszm is rumoured to be looking for a buyer. Ma says he's holding numerous talks—mainly with those pesky investment bankers looking to arrange a marriage from which they can profit. But he adds, "We're not going to do a deal just to be in the newspaper for 24 hours." Meanwhile, MTY has some challenges of its own to address. Most notably, its same–store sales have been dwindling by 1% to 2% for several quarters, though the rate of decline has slowed and the fast–food market is improving. "If they're only acquisition–driven, that's dangerous," says Aghazarian. Acumen's Pow is more concerned with Ma's poor job of exploiting public markets. In May, MTY moved from the TSX Venture Exchange to the main board, but "[stanley] doesn't really market his stock," says Pow. "There are days I ask why he hasn't gone private. Since he went public, he did only one [equity] raise." It merits noting that Acumen was one of the investment firms that nudged MTY toward income trusts a few years ago. Today, Pow credits Ma with managing to finance his business while resisting the pressures of the market's expectations. But, he says, "Stanley has to ask himself, What's the succession plan? The more control is in the marketplace, the better you'll do in a takeout." Ma shows little interest in being taken out. His three kids all work in the business, and his ambitions keep growing—at his own conservative pace. He long ago achieved his initial goal of an MTY restaurant every hour along the Monteal–Quebec route. His next target—2,000 stores—isn't far away; by this summer, the company opened more new locations than it had projected for all of 2010. Ma's current focus lies in an area he worried little about when he started: building brand equity. While 80% of MTY's stores were once in food courts, today only about 30% are, due largely to the acquisition of Country Style, Taco Time and a few other banners that all had a heavy street presence. There, promotion matters for building destination traffic, so MTY is shifting marketing dollars from menu upgrades to billboard and bus advertising. The king of food courts, accustomed to the low–investment and low–risk climate of indoor counters, realizes that to grow to 3,000 restaurants and beyond, he needs to expand outside. "We're gaining confidence that, yes, we can handle the street, that brand power is there now," says Ma. "Customers know what to expect from Thai Express, like they know what to expect from McDonald's." The reclusive immigrant is ready for some spotlight. "I want [my brands] to be like the big boys, recognition–wise," says Ma. "Hopefully, one day someone travels to Dubai and says, 'Oh, Thai Express! I know it.'" http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/strategy/article.jsp?content=20101011_10022_10022&page=1
  21. Montreal heritage activist celebrates Order of Canada honour Last Updated: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | 1:27 PM ET CBC News Montreal heritage defender Dinu Bumbaru is being recognized for his local efforts with a national honour, the Order of Canada. Bumbaru, director of Heritage Montreal, was among the new members of the order announced Tuesday by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean 'Somehow this is a recognition from the highest authority in the country that communities count.'—Dinu Bumbaru, director of Heritage Montreal Bumbaru was walking on Mount Royal when he heard that the list was announced with his name on it. "It is a big beyond reach. You don't feel that you deserve such things," Bumbaru said. The citation from the Governor General states that Bumbaru was nominated for his leadership in promoting, protecting and enhancing the historical and cultural heritage of Montreal, including the preservation of world heritage sites. Bumbaru said the honour is important because it recognizes the work in communities across Canada that often goes unnoticed. "Somehow, this is a recognition from the highest authority in the country that communities count," he said. "In the days of climate change and social crisis, we tend to feel the big issue is the green and the greed of people. But we see the greatest achievement of mankind is the city where people actually live." Bumbaru has a degree in architecture from the University of Montreal and a degree in conservation studies from the University of York in England. Since joining Heritage Montreal in 1982, he has become one of the city's most vocal defenders of community preservation, including during the recent debate over the redevelopment of Griffintown southwest of downtown. Céline Dion, investment guru honoured Quebec TV personality Suzanne Lapointe will be named a member of the Order of Canada. (CBC) Other Quebecers honoured Tuesday included singer Céline Dion and Montreal investment guru Stephen Jarislowski, who both become companions of the Order of Canada. Businessman Claude Lamoureux and dancer Louise Lecavalier will become officers. Quebec television personality and singer Suzanne Lapointe will also join the order as a member. The newest additions will receive their insignias at a ceremony at Rideau Hall at a later date. The Order of Canada, the country's highest honour, recognizes citizens for outstanding achievements or for exceptional contributions to the culture of the country. Established in 1967, the award has been presented to more than 5,500 people.