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  1. Carte intéressante sur la répartition des types d'industries par arrondissement : Via Montreal Gazette : http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/maps-whos-putting-montrealers-to-work Maps show who's putting Montrealers to work ROBERTO ROCHA, MONTREAL GAZETTE Published on: October 23, 2014Last Updated: October 28, 2014 2:06 PM EDT If you want a job at a clothing store, you’ll have better chances finding work in St-Léonard. But if working at a private residence is your thing, Hampstead is a good place too look. Data released by Montreal’s statistics bureau breaks down the number of jobs in each industry, for every borough and demerged suburb. The data confirms obvious truths — that the main industry in Dorval is transportation, and that manufacturing is heavy in St-Laurent and the east end — but it also offer some surprises. The data details the number of jobs in each type of industry and workplace. These are jobs that exist inside a borough’s or city’s borders, not the jobs of residents who live in those places. There’s a large swath, stretching from Pierrefonds to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, where the dominant industry is health care and social services. And though it’s no surprise that places like Ville-Marie and Westmount would be heavy in professional services, but Sud-Ouest is less obvious. We can assume the condo boom in Griffintown, as well as the gentrification of Pointe St-Charles created demand for skilled workers. However, only 13 per cent of jobs in Sud-Ouest are in that field, which suggests the borough has a rich diversity of jobs. However, this maps only gives us a big-picture view of general industries. The data also breaks down the number of jobs by more granular workplaces. Here’s another map, this time by type of employer. We see that the boroughs where health and social services are strong are split between hospitals and schools as main employers. Banking, not surprisingly, is the main employer downtown, while the top job in the Plateau is in restaurants. Surprisingly, it’s the same in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. And did you ever imagine so many people in Montreal-East worked in furniture stores? Or that the federal government employs lots of Westmounters? A curious outlier is Hampstead, which has, as the dominant employer, private households. These refer to domestic labour, like cleaners, maids and cooks. “Being a city with one of the highest incomes in the region, it’s plausible to find so many jobs in that sub-category,” said Yan Beaumont, researcher at Montréal en statistiques. Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue also stands out, with colleges and CEGEPs being the main employer. The tiny, partly rural city is home to John Abbott College and Gérand Godin College. Here is the summary of the data for the three levels of the Montreal area. [TABLE=class: grid, width: 600] [TR] [TD][/TD] [TD]Montreal metropolitan region[/TD] [TD]Montreal agglomeration[/TD] [TD]City of Montreal[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest industry[/TD] [TD]Retail[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second-largest industry[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Manufacturing[/TD] [TD]Professional, scientific, and technical services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest employer[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second largest employer[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] Full data sheet at the end of the article
  2. http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Gazette+exclusive+EMSB+pitches+tout+fran%C3%A7ais/2414008/story.html This is much needed. And not all of it should be spent on grammar reciting either (as is often the case). I think a big part is just being able to learn to get use out of it. Practice comprehension and conversational skills first, then worry about written skills. Although I had great French teachers in school, how was I (or anyone else) to become fluent by spending only 4-5 hours a week on it? This compared to living the rest of the week entirely in English (except for the Habs/Expos game back in the day). Having said that, English instruction should be toughened up as well. The quality of written English of a good portion of university peers is downright abysmal. They should have to pass a stringent English exam to get accepted into a regular program (if they fail, they should take a year-long mini program designed at teaching them proper written and spoken English). From what I have heard, they offer English-Second-Language courses that are taught by immigrants with heavy accents (notably from Ukraine and China). WTF?
  3. A new survey of Quebecers' attitudes on education shows that two out of three prefer to have the right to send their children to any school in the province they choose, public or private. The poll, conducted for The Gazette by Léger Marketing, asked whether students other than those now allowed, including franco-phones, should have access to English-language schools if they wish. A total of 66 per cent of a representative sample of Quebecers agreed that they should - including a 61-per-cent clear majority of francophones. Non-francophones were even more overwhelmingly in favour, at 87 per cent. Women, at 71 per cent, were significantly more so than the 66 per cent of men who agreed. Overall, 30 per cent disagreed - that is, 35 per cent of francophones and 11 per cent of non-francophones. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Most+back+allowing+choice+schooling/3011261/story.html#ixzz0newGaF9e
  4. Top Asian team at global business challenge 31 March 2008 NUS' MBA team beat more than 270 Asian teams to emerge the best in the continent at Cerebration 2008, with DBS as principal sponsor. The Competition is an annual global business challenge organized by the NUS Business School. The team finished second overall among the more than 450 participating teams from 200 business schools worldwide. HEC Montreal team emerged the champion, with the London Business School and McGill University completing the final field of four. Now in its fourth year, the competition gives MBA students a chance to devise global business expansion strategies for participating Singapore companies -- Brewerkz Restaurant and Microbrewery, Expressions International and Qian Hu Corp. Each team had to study its chosen firm and come up with strategies based on the firm’s unique profile and target market. This is the second straight year that the NUS team has finished second in the competition, reflecting the School’s global ranking of the top 100 business schools for its MBA program.
  5. Not sure if all or any have heard of this by the office Québécois de la langue française concerning the pronunciation of pk subban's name? Not sure about other people's reaction or position on such things but as a Montrealer and Quebecer all my life I'm pissed that these people make such stupid and useless remarks. I for one see that there is a certain pressure to protect the language however this is not how one succeeds in such things. In language especially making it interesting and relevant, with bilingualism, events and places to go and things to learn in French here in Québec which make people want to learn the language and use it. I go to ÉTS and I as is evident I am pas mal anglaphone but I go there because of what they offer, it doesn't phase me to attend my courses in French it is simply a bit more work. Just take schools in the Uk or the states for example, people from all over the world who do not speak English go to places like MIT or Oxford because they have reputations to be some of the best. People then learn english and that's that. From what I see and who I talk to the opinions of the language police are not those of the people of Montréal. In some case sure like everything sold should have french but this bs of pronunciation of an english guy from Toronto is insane! Sent from my C6806 using Tapatalk
  6. [MAPS]https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Pernambuco&hl=en&sll=45.495362,-73.568761&sspn=0.001608,0.004128&t=h&hnear=Pernambuco,+Brazil&z=7[/MAPS] Brazil’s north-east: The Pernambuco model Eduardo Campos is both modern manager and old-fashioned political boss. His success in developing his state may make him his country’s next president Oct 27th 2012 | RECIFE | from the print edition IN THE 1980s an American anthropologist, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, carried out fieldwork in Timbaúba, a town in the sugar belt of Pernambuco state, in Brazil’s north-east. She described a place seemingly resigned to absolute poverty. The back-breaking task of cutting sugar cane by machete provided ill-paid work for only a few months of the year. The deaths of young children from disease and hunger were accepted “without weeping”. Traces of that bitter world survive in Timbaúba. In Alto do Cruzeiro, a poor suburb on a hilltop overlooking the town, Severina da Silva, a maid who also runs a shop in her living room, says that some people still go hungry. She is 48 but looks 20 years older. A 31-year-old cane cutter nicknamed “Bill” has six children—a throwback to the days when people had big families instead of pensions. But Bill has a labour contract, with full rights; he gets a stipend and a small plot from the state government to see him through the idle months. That is part of a broader social safety net provided by democracy in Brazil. It includes non-contributory pensions for rural workers. Some 6,000 of the town’s poorest residents take part in Bolsa Família, a cash-transfer scheme started by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003-10, who was born near Timbaúba. Thanks partly to this cash injection, the town now boasts car and motorbike dealers, new shops, a bank and restaurants. That is a ripple from a broader flood of investment that has made Pernambuco one of Brazil’s fastest-growing states. Once Europe’s most lucrative Atlantic colony, it languished for centuries. While sugar estates on the plains of São Paulo mechanised with world-beating efficiency, those in Pernambuco’s rolling hills struggled. Revival began with a new port at Suape, south of Recife. Its hinterland is now a sprawling industrial complex. Some 40,000 workers are building a vast oil refinery and petrochemical plants for Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company. A new shipyard and wind-power plants rise among the mangroves. Suape is a monument to federal money, industrial policy and an alliance between Lula and Eduardo Campos, Pernambuco’s ambitious governor. But the state’s boom goes wider. Rising incomes have helped Mr Campos attract private investment. Fiat is to start work on a car plant beside the main road north of Recife. A host of smaller food, textile and shoe factories are now setting up in the state’s poor interior, including Timbaúba. While the rest of Brazil worries about deindustrialisation, Pernambuco does not: since Mr Campos became governor in 2007, industry’s share of the state’s economy has risen from 20% to 25%, and will reach 30% by 2015, he says. This boom has brought nearly full employment—and created an acute skills shortage. The refinery is years behind schedule, as is the shipyard’s order book, partly because illiterate former cane-cutters make poor welders. To try to remedy that, Mr Campos has teamed up with the Institute for Co-Responsibility in Education (ICE), a private educational foundation, to reform the state’s middle schools. More than 200 of these now operate an eight-hour day, rather than the four-hour shifts common in Brazil. In return, the government has raised teachers’ salaries and added bonuses tied to results. It is also trying to chivvy mayors into improving primary schools through extra funds and other incentives. That is vital: on average, pupils arrive in middle schools aged 15 with a three-year learning deficit, says Marcos Magalhães, ICE’s founder. Pernambuco is rising up the rankings of state educational performance. Mr Campos’s critics say he should do more to tackle poverty. Alongside the opulent residential blocks towering over its palm-fringed beaches, Recife has 600 favelas (slums), and its lagoons are fetid with untreated sewage. He replies that his government is doing what it can to help the generation scarred by the poverty of cane-cutting, particularly in the drought-stricken semi-desert region farther inland. But his bold bet is that infrastructure, private investment and better education will eliminate the causes of his state’s misery. “We are turning off the flow of poverty while looking after the stock,” he says, using his trademark management-speak. So far that bet has paid off. Mr Campos won a second term in 2010, and his Brazilian Socialist Party did well in this month’s municipal elections, in Pernambuco and beyond. He is nominally an ally of Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor as president. But he is also a potential threat to her winning a second term at the 2014 election. Mr Campos was born into politics. Miguel Arraes, his grandfather, was an old-fashioned socialist and Pernambuco’s governor both before and after Brazil’s 1964- 85 military dictatorship. Mr Campos says Arraes taught him that politics is about “bringing people together, rather than dividing them.” Some in Recife complain that he has learned that lesson too well and become a modern version of a traditional north-eastern coronel (political boss), shrinking from challenging the old rural order, trading support for jobs and favours and freezing out dissenters. But his defenders say he gets things done. He was lucky that his less-heralded predecessor laid the foundations of Pernambuco’s renaissance. He has built on them by modernising the state. He faced down the trade unions over school reform and brought private managers to state hospitals. He has set hundreds of targets for his administration, and harries his aides to achieve them. One that he recognises he must meet—or pay a political price—is to finish a new football stadium in Recife in time for next year’s warm-up tournament for the 2014 World Cup. As both the main parties that have run Brazil since 1995 lack new faces, Mr Campos’s success in Pernambuco has turned him into the country’s most-watched politician. http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21565227-eduardo-campos-both-modern-manager-and-old-fashioned-political-boss-his-success
  7. http://world.time.com/2013/04/08/quebecs-war-on-english-language-politics-intensify-in-canadian-province/ To live in Quebec is to become accustomed to daily reminders that French in the Canadian province is the most regulated language in the world. Try, as I did recently, to shop at Anthropologie online and you’ll come up empty-handed. The retail chain (which bears a French name) opened its first Montreal boutique in October, but “due to the Charter of the French Language” has had its site shut down: “We hope you’ll visit us in store!” Montreal’s transit authority maintains that under the present language law, its ticket takers must operate in French, which lately has spurred complaints from passengers. Last year, the city of Montreal erected 60 English safety signs nearby Anglophone schools in an effort to slow passing vehicles. The Quebec Board of the French Language and its squad of inspectors ordered that they be taken down; a snowy drive through town revealed that all had been replaced by French notices. Since the Parti Québécois (PQ), which calls for national sovereignty for Quebec, won a minority government in September, the reminders have become increasingly less subtle. In February, a language inspector cited the swank supper club Buonanotte, which occupies a stretch of St. Laurent Boulevard, Montreal’s cultural and commercial artery, for using Italian words like pasta on its otherwise French menu. The ensuing scandal, which has come to be known as “pastagate,” took social media by storm. “These are problems we had in the 1980s,” says restaurant owner Massimo Lecas. “They were over and done with; we could finally concentrate on the economy and fixing potholes. And then this new government brought them all back. These issues might never go away now, and that is a scary sort of future.” It’s true: despite the nuisances and controversies generated by Bill 101, Quebec’s 1977 Charter of the French Language, the province had settled in the past years into a kind of linguistic peace. But tensions have mounted considerably since the separatist PQ returned to the fore. In the wake of pastagate, the language board allowed that its requests were maybe overzealous; the head of the organization resigned. And yet the PQ has prepared for the passage of Bill 14, a massive and massively controversial revision to Bill 101. The bill’s 155 proposed amendments go further than any previous measures have to legislate the use of French in Quebec. Most English speakers see the changes as having been designed to run them right out of the province. “Definitely non-Francophone kids who are graduating are leaving,” says restaurateur Lecas. “If you don’t have a mortgage yet, if you’re not married yet, if you don’t own a business yet, it’s like, ‘I’m so outta here.’ But leaving is not the solution because when you leave, they win.” In a poll conducted by the research company EKOS in January, 42% of the Anglophones surveyed said they’ve considered quitting Quebec since the PQ was elected. If Bill 14 passes, military families living in Quebec but liable to be relocated at any time will no longer be permitted to send their children to English-language schools. Municipalities whose Anglophone inhabitants make up less than 50% of their populations will lose their bilingual status, meaning, among other things, that residents won’t be able to access government documents in English. For the first time, companies with 25 to 49 workers will be required to conduct all business in French, a process set to cost medium-size businesses $23 million. French speakers interested in attending English-language colleges will take a backseat to Anglophone applicants. The language inspectors will be able to instantly search and seize potentially transgressive records, files, books and accounts, where currently they can only “request” documents that they believe aren’t in accordance with the law. And no longer will they grant a compliance period. As soon as a person or business is suspected of an offense, “appropriate penal proceedings may be instituted.” Jamie Rosenbluth of JR Bike Rental is among the business owners who’ve had run-ins with the ever more bold language board, which already has the authority to impose fines and, in extreme cases, shut enterprises down. A month ago, an inspector asked him to translate the Spanish novelty posters that paper his shop and increase the size of the French writing on his bilingual pricing list by 30%. Says Rosenbluth: “I told her, ‘You want me to make the French words 30% bigger? O.K., how about I charge French-speaking people 30% more?’ It is so silly. Are they 30% better than me? Are they 30% smarter than me?” Since the encounter, he has covered the offending posters with placards of his own that say, in French, “Warning: Non-French sign below. Read at your own discretion.” The PQ is trying to reassure its separatist base of its seriousness as a defender of Quebecois identity. To pass Bill 14, it will need the support of at least one of the province’s two primary opposition parties. In other words, if the bill doesn’t succeed, Premier Pauline Marois of the PQ will be able to hold the opposition accountable and remain a hero to the hard-liners. The PQ knows that, in its present incarnation, it will never drastically expand its core of support, but it can galvanize its troops. Some of those supporters rallied together in Montreal last month to protest “institutional bilingualism” and champion the bill. Cheers and applause resounded when journalist Pierre Dubuc called out: “If someone can’t ask for a metro ticket in French, let them walk.” Public hearings on Bill 14 began in early March at the National Assembly in Quebec City and are ongoing. “I can tell you that if someone came to Côte-St.-Luc to tell us we would lose our bilingual status, you will have chaos, you will have opposition of people you wouldn’t think of who will take to the streets,” testified Anthony Housefather, mayor of the municipality of Côte-St.-Luc, on the first day. “People are scared, people are very scared.” By the time Quebec’s largest Anglophone school board, Lester B. Pearson, came forward on March 19, it had already collected 32,000 signatures on a petition against the bill. “There are many ways of protecting French, and coercion isn’t one of them,” says Simo Kruyt, a member of the board’s central parent committee. “Fourteen of our schools have closed over the past seven years. We are getting fed up. We are getting tired of having to fight to be who we are. English is the language of commerce and we parents believe we are part of a world that’s larger than Quebec.” It’s hard yet to say if the bill will make it through. The opposition Liberals have flat-out refused to support the legislation. The Coalition Avenir Québec, which holds the balance, has said that it might — if certain of the more controversial measures are “improved.” In fact, the Coalition has only come out against four sections of Bill 14, and these don’t include the provisions that would give the dreaded language inspectors new and extraordinary powers. In the face of such antagonism, it’s no wonder some are leaving. Kruyt’s eldest son, a bilingual 27-year-old engineer, is preparing to relocate to Ottawa, the Canadian capital that sits near Quebec’s western border. Says Kruyt: “There, they’ll appreciate his French and won’t hammer him because of his English.” Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/04/08/quebecs-war-on-english-language-politics-intensify-in-canadian-province/#ixzz2PxmWuSHp
  8. Montreal's vital signs improving PETER HADEKEL, The Gazette Published: 7 hours ago When consulting economist Marcel Cote put together a statistical picture of the Montreal area, he found several signs of improvement. The region's unemployment rate, long among the worst in urban Canada, is now closer to the national average than it's been in two decades. The workforce is getting smarter. Over the last 10 years, the proportion of Montrealers who've completed post-secondary studies has shot up from 43 per cent to 55 per cent and is now above the Canadian average. Innovation is thriving. Between 1990 and 2005, the share of scientific and technical jobs in the labour force has grown at a faster rate than in Toronto and Vancouver. Cote collected the data for the Foundation of Greater Montreal, which yesterday published its annual checkup on the metropolitan area, titled Vital Signs. The report is intended to raise awareness on the challenges and opportunities facing the community. It also serves as a good gauge of the quality of life in Montreal. But for all of Montreal's improvements, there are plenty of problems to address. Nearly a quarter of families earn low incomes and a disproportionate number of seniors live in poverty. Chronic homelessness remains an issue, especially among First Nations and Inuit. And Montreal still hasn't figured out how to integrate immigrants into its economic fabric. Relative to Canadian-born workers, the jobless rate among immigrants is far higher than it is for Canada as a whole. Asked to sum up his findings, Cote noted that in areas where change happens quickly, Montreal has done quite well. For example, changes in public policy like government mandated pay equity have helped put money into consumers' pockets and improved Quebec's economic performance. But on longer term issues like poverty and personal health, progress is much slower. On the island of Montreal, 25 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men did not have a family physician. In secondary schools, only 39 per cent of students exercised enough to be in good physical condition. It's worth remembering that economic health is closely linked to social health. Prosperity and growth help to pay for improvements in health and social services. As well, the link between educational attainment and a strong economy is clear, Cote noted. The high dropout rate in Montreal-area schools is closely linked to the incidence of poverty. To ensure that growth continues, Montreal will have to address tough challenges, including: the aging of its population, the impact of globalization and the competitive threat from such emerging economies as China, India, Russia and Brazil. The city also needs huge infrastructure repairs. And a way must be found to reorganize municipal finances so that it can meet the needs of citizens. If Montreal can do a better job in these areas, it should be well-positioned to compete, because its economy is diversified and increasingly driven by knowledge industries. "Montreal's fundamental comparative advantage is in advanced manufacturing," Cote says. The city has a skilled and stable work force that attracts investment. "Our advanced manufacturing industries are not too threatened by the developing countries." Of all the challenges ahead, Cote says the biggest one may be remaining an open and international city while retaining the French character of Montreal. "We have to stay open," he said. "We have to accommodate more immigrants. But we have to get them to accept French. Otherwise, they don't have jobs, they're not happy and they leave." Montreal has done a fairly good job of retaining new immigrants but must get them into the workforce faster. "The fact that Montreal is French in North America is our fundamental challenge. We want to keep it this way, we like it this way, it makes a very interesting city. But it has its problems." Cote added, however, that if cities like Brussels, Amsterdam and London can retain an international quality, Montreal can too. Immigration is key to both arresting the city's demographic decline and positioning it to prosper in the global economy. [email protected]
  9. How Quebec Cree avoided the fate of Attawapiskat On the eastern shore of James Bay, a very different story. By Terry Milewski, CBC News Posted: May 14, 2013 9:33 PM ET Last Updated: May 14, 2013 11:07 PM ET Read 119 comments119 Freezing, mouldy homes. Sewage contamination. Sick kids. Unemployment. A blockade on the road to the mine. A hunger strike by the chief. That, it seems, is the news from the Cree of James Bay — at least, as it's defined by the desperate community of Attawapiskat, in northern Ontario. Before that, there was the news from nearby Kashechewan. Flooding. Despair. Suicide. And both James Bay towns endured fresh emergencies this spring as the annual meltwaters exposed, again, their rickety infrastructure. But bad news makes headlines and good news usually does not. So we've heard all about the mess on the Ontario shore of James Bay — and next to nothing about the success on the eastern shore, in Quebec. Little noticed by the world outside, the Cree of northern Quebec are writing a startlingly different story than their cousins on the western shore of James Bay. Self-government. Revenue-sharing. Decent schools and new development. Mining companies being welcomed instead of blockaded. And no hunger strikes. Schoolchildren in the northern Cree community of Wemindji, Que., enjoy decent schools, in contrast to their Ontario cousins in Attawapiskat, who have been in portables since their school closed more than a decade ago. It's taken 40 years, but a long struggle is paying off. The neat streets of Wemindji or Oujé-Bougoumou feel like they're on a different planet than Attawapiskat. If the stop signs weren't in Cree, you'd think the rows of warm, solid homes were in a suburb down south. Shiny new courthouses, band offices, recreation centres and police stations are being completed. There's no crisis to summon reporters from Toronto or Montreal. So why is it so different on the Quebec side of James Bay? [...] http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/05/14/pol-james-bay-cree-northern-quebec-attawapiskat.html
  10. via the New Yorker : FEBRUARY 28, 2015 Leonard Cohen’s Montreal BY BERNARD AVISHAI PHOTOGRAPH BY ROB VERHORST/REDFERNS VIA GETTY Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”—a hymn to souls too carnal to grow old, too secular to give praise, and too baffled to mock faith—recently turned thirty. Cohen himself, now eighty, came of age in Jewish Montreal during the twenty years after the Second World War, and those of us who followed him, a half-generation later, can’t hear the song without also thinking about that time and place, which qualifies as an era. The devotional—and deftly sacrilegious—quality of “Hallelujah” and other songs and poems by Cohen reflects a city of clashing and bonding religious communities, especially first-generation Jews and French Catholics. Montreal’s politics in the early sixties were energized by what came to be called Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, which emancipated the city’s bicultural intelligentsia from Church and Anglostocracy. The pace of transformation could make the place half crazy; that’s why you wanted to be there. Religious thoughts seemed to be the gravest ones in Montreal then, insinuated, even inculcated, by its architecture, seasonal festivals, and colloquialisms. Cohen grew up in affluent Westmount, the best part of Mount Royal, about a mile from my family home in Snowdon—a neighborhood on a lower Western slope, where “the English” (as my mother called them) had no choice but to make room for Jewish factory owners, lawyers, and doctors. Towering over both our neighborhoods, impressing itself on our senses, was the dome of St. Joseph’s Oratory, Quebec’s great basilica, the dream palace of (the now canonized) Brother André Bessette, who healed the body and spirit of pilgrims—the place we simply called the Shrine. A. M. Klein, the first of the Montreal Jewish poets, wrote, “How rich, how plumped with blessing is that dome! / The gourd of Brother André! His sweet days / rounded! Fulfilled! Honeyed to honeycomb!” Its neon-illuminated cross was visible from my bedroom window, an imposing rival for the whispered Shma Yisroel of bedtime. The city’s ironwork staircases, its streets tangled around Mount Royal, carried the names of uncountable saints (St. Denis, St. Eustache, St. Laurent); the fall air was scented by rotting leaves and, on Rosh Hashana, polished synagogues. Fresh snow sharpened Christmas lights. Our curses, borrowed from Québécois proles, were affectionately sacrilegious mocks of the Mass: “calice,” “tabarnak,” “osti”—chalice, tabernacle, host. For Jews, a sense of rivalry was palpable, triangular, and almost Old Country in character. French public schools were run by the Catholic Church, English schools by the Protestant School Board, and some fifty per cent of Jewish students went to Anglo-Jewish day schools that embraced (and effaced) Old World movements: Orthodox, Zionist, folkish Yiddishist. Montreal’s Jews numbered well over a hundred and twenty thousand in those years. A great many men and women behind the counters of our bakeries, delis, and bookstores spoke (as did my father) the Yiddish-inflected English of immigrants who had come in the twenties. The Soviet revolution had changed the boundaries of Russia’s borderlands, closing Russian markets that had previously been open to Jewish merchants and textile manufacturers in Lithuania and White Russia (now Eastern Belarus), forcing them West—just when the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 closed America to more Jewish immigration. My father and his widowed mother and siblings were trying, in 1928, to get from Bialystok to Chicago, where an uncle lived. The port of Montreal was supposed to be their starting point, before heading down to the Great Lakes. It was where they stayed. (If the accents were heavier, you knew the new arrivals had come mainly from Romania or Hungary after the Nazi defeat, and had witnessed horrors that we did not speak about.) Jewish community life after the war was imbued with a sense of intensely felt tragedy, but so was traditional Judaism as a culture. The world of Yiddishkeit, three generations back for New York intellectuals, was just one generation back for us. Compared with “Dick and Jane” in our English readers, the characters of the Hebrew bible—their violence, jealousies, and treacheries—seemed like family. On a streetcar ride up Queen Mary Road, where the Shrine stood, a nun once told me that I had “the look of Abraham” on my face. Another, apparently reading my mind, asked me if I knew what it meant to have sinful thoughts. (She also kindly shared an amusing word game, so her Inquisition ended with grace.) The largest English talk-radio station had a call-in show on Sunday evenings on which the vexingly courteous Pentecostal Pastor Johnson explained why Jews, in rejecting Jesus, were sadly damned. Most of his callers were Jews who debated and denounced him. Unlike in the United States, Jews in Quebec did not have a neutral civil space to melt into. We had nothing as stipulated as the American Constitution; our liberties derived organically, within the tradition of British Common Law. Canada’s money had a Queen on it, not the founding fathers. The institutions of Jewish Montreal created places in which we fell back on ourselves. The heads of our welfare services and of the Y.M.H.A., the public library, the free-loan society, and political congresses were local celebrities. The family of the liquor baron Sam Bronfman, who supported these institutions, were our nobility. The progressives among us didn’t go to Reform synagogues; we just went to Orthodox and Conservative synagogues, and irregularly. If we got sick, we went to the Jewish General Hospital. My father, a Zionist leader who travelled to Israel in 1954 as if on the hajj, often admonished me with the famous aphorism of Moses Mendelssohn, the eighteenth-century liberal philosopher, that I should be a Jew at home and a human in the street. I understood Mendelssohn more readily than, say, Leonard Bernstein, who, teaching us sonata form on television, seemed human pretty much everywhere. Tolerance meant dialogue and reciprocal recognition, not assimilation. A few years ago, I walked through Bialystok with a historical map of the now destroyed Jewish city—before the First World War, Jews comprised about half the population—and found my father’s house. I was struck by how familiar Montreal’s large immigrant Jewish neighborhoods might have seemed, at least on the surface, to my father in 1928, when he arrived at the age of fourteen: the same hard winter and the same thick-walled constructions, the same forested hills, the same churches, the same easy insular Yiddish dominating commerce in textiles and clothing—the shmate (“rag”) business. The same farmers who had, a couple of generations back, been peasants, speaking a strange national language, working in our factories, speaking against us from hearths and pulpits yet greeting us warmly and with a practiced humility. The same sense that, by contrast, the propertied classes, our local nobility, would tolerate Jews so long as we helped them get richer but did not cross some invisible boundary—the presumably unavailable daughters. In his iconic Canadian novel, “Two Solitudes,” Hugh MacLennan describes Quebec as being defined by two competing cultures, nested in two little nations that were also classes, French and English. The gruff, brilliant, promiscuous Irving Layton—who had been an acolyte of Klein, and who became Cohen’s mentor and advocate—observed many years later that Montreal actually had three solitudes—a Jewish one, too, sitting somewhere between the others. Commercial life was English, so Jews as a community were drawn to the Anglophone world, narrow only in Quebec. Yet immigrant Jews engaged more poignantly, pushing and pulling, with French religious culture, which was locally engulfing. Catholic priests and nuns were ubiquitous public servants, tending to the French population, largely subsidized by provincial taxes and dominating Quebec’s French universities, hospitals, and social agencies, as well as the public schools. Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger, installed in 1953, was a kindly man, concerned for the poor, who ended his days as an African missionary (“a mensch,” my father called him), and the equal of any mayor; he kept anyone under sixteen from entering a movie theatre, except when Walt Disney films made the rounds. In the thirties and forties, the Church in Quebec had been ultramontane, and the not silent partner of the reactionary National Union Party of Premier Maurice Duplessis, who ruled, with a five year interruption, from 1936 until his death, in 1959. He had been xenophobic, populist, ambivalent about the war against Hitler, and classically (if discreetly) anti-Semitic. Behind the scenes, this political establishment instructed French voters, many of whom lived in far-flung farming villages where parish schooling was limited. They were barely literate and easily swayed. Duplessis presided over an apparently impregnable majority, rallied against sinful Montreal—Cardinal Léger sought to ban bingo—and used the provincial police thuggishly, turning it into a personal force. But the war and its aftermath gradually put the Catholic Church on the defensive. The exposure of Québécois soldiers to the triumph over Fascism, the penetration into the countryside of radio and television, the inescapable guilt that Catholic intellectuals felt about the death camps, the Second Vatican Council in 1962—all of these unleashed dissent. The Church’s chief critics were dazzling, cosmopolitan French Canadian intellectuals: Jean Marchand, the charismatic, leftist union leader; Gérard Pelletier and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the editors of Cité Libre magazine (Trudeau would eventually lead the federal Liberals to victory in 1968); and René Lévesque, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s most famous French-language host. When, in the 1960* election, the Liberal Party came to power (Lévesque joined the Liberal’s cabinet as the resources minister), the priests and nuns began losing their grip on the city’s schools and social services, and Quebec entered the humanist insurgency of the Quiet Revolution. The arts began to flourish: the Comédie-Canadienne blossomed, and the filmmaker Denys Arcand joined the National Film Board, producing award-winning French-language documentaries. The University of Montreal and community colleges were infused with provincial funds, and their graduates took social-service jobs in a new, fiercely secular Quebec bureaucracy. Public schools, still divided by language, were taken over more firmly, and funded more lavishly, by the regional government (though the formally “confessional” nomenclature—Catholic and Protestant—was not finally abandoned until 1998). By the spring of 1963, the Quebec government had nationalized old English-owned power companies, disturbing the peace of the residual Anglostocracy. In this loosened political atmosphere, Jews—who voted “Liberal” as faithfully as we conducted Seders—emerged into the culture. We grew infatuated with Trudeau’s federalist idealism. He was elected from a largely Jewish Montreal constituency and remained there throughout his years as Prime Minister. The Quiet Revolution transformed Montreal, at least for a while, into a kind of Andalusia: contesting religious-linguistic cultures rubbing each other the right way. Jews shared professional and literary ties with les Anglais, but we shared an affinity with French Catholics, for religious traditions that were thickly esthetic and that we, each in our own way, both loved and loved to distance ourselves from. We also intuitively understood congregational routine, authoritative interpretation of sacred literature, the prestige of historical continuity—we understood that messiahs matter in this world, that the divine emerged within the precincts of a discipline, commandments, and the mass, all of which produced decorum before they produced grace. As Cohen writes in “Hallelujah,” you cannot feel so you learn to touch: works, not just faith alone. Our rivalry with Catholics at times seemed fuelled by an unacknowledged tenderness, theirs for our historical struggles, professional erudition, and exegetical trenchancy, ours for their majestic spaces, genuflecting hockey champions, and forgiving, suffering servant—a Jew, after all. “I love Jesus,” Cohen told his biographer, Sylvie Simmons. “Always did.” But, he said, “I didn’t stand up in shul and say, ‘I love Jesus.’ ” My mother—the amiably innocent scion of another Bialystoker family—took me, overdressed (oisgeputzt), to Eaton’s department store to see the Christmas pageantry; and then, more reverentially (and to my father’s dismay), she took me to the Shrine’s wax museum, to see depictions of the passions of the saints. When I first heard a recording of Judy Collins’s iconic rendition of Cohen’s “Suzanne,” at McGill in the fall of 1967, a year after my mother’s sudden death—heard about the lonely wooden tower and its occupant searching out the drowning—it occurred to me that I had never expected much empathy from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It also occurred to me that Cohen, whose father had died when he was nine, knew loss, and that the distance from mama’s boy to ladies’ man could be short. Which brings me, finally, to McGill. If our emancipation was not in civil society, it was on that campus. The university had been chartered in 1821 to provide English and Scottish Protestants a colonial piece of the Enlightenment, above the atavism of habitant manors and parishes; the student population at the Arts and Sciences Faculty, in the mid-sixties, was something like forty-per-cent Jewish. Cohen was a legend by the time I got there. He had graduated in 1955, and had published three books of poetry and two novels; the National Film Board had made a fawning documentary about him. It was at McGill that Cohen found Irving Layton (he said of Layton, “I taught him how to dress, he taught me how to live forever”). Klein, Layton’s teacher, had been there in the thirties, studied law, and went on to simultaneously write “The Rocking Chair,” a poetic tribute to French Canada, and edit The Canadian Jewish Chronicle. (Secretly, he also wrote speeches for Sam Bronfman). By the time Cohen got to McGill, Klein had fallen silent, spiralling into, among other sources of melancholy, a never-completed exegesis of Joyce’s “Ulysses.” For our part, we found at McGill a kind of finishing school to make ourselves more sovereign, like Cohen was. There was no need for young Jews to offer Quebec some new model of political insurrection—no American-style howl. The restrained, verbose liberalism of John Stuart Mill seemed insurgent enough, even for Trudeau and Levesque. So was the tolerance—the scientific doubt—of the Scottish enlightenment and the lyricism of English and Irish poets, from Wordsworth to Yeats. Hemmed in by Jewish and Catholic sexual norms—and also by Victorian prissiness—the first right that we thought to exercise was the right to Eros. Cohen told Sylvie Simmons that he was first inspired to write poetry when, in his teens, he read, in English translation, the work of the Spaniard Federico García Lorca. But, like many other Jewish youths at McGill, he shuttled between the debating union and the traditions of the English, immersing himself in the study of liberty and literature as in a yeshiva. This open-spirited time of cross-fertilization did not last. The Quiet Revolution, which prompted Trudeau’s federalism, in time gave rise to a more stridently nationalist idea, encouraged by Charles de Gaulle on his trip to the 1967 World’s Fair, and soon championed by Lévesque, too: that Quebec would be better off as an independent country, maîtres chez nous (masters of our own). Spooked by the vitality of English culture in Montreal, and by the fact that many more French were learning English than the other way around, separatists began agitating for an end to English-language education for new immigrants and English signs in the city. Socialists among the separatists, recalling Lévesque’s nationalization of the power companies, began calling for the nationalization of banks and large businesses. At the beginning of the sixties, radical separatists—impatient with the Liberals’ nonviolent democratic methods—had formed the Front de Libération du Québec, or F.L.Q., and gone underground. By the end of the sixties, they had placed bombs in the stock exchange and in mailboxes in English neighborhoods. In 1970, after a spate of F.L.Q. kidnappings (a Quebec minister, Pierre Laporte, was murdered), Trudeau imposed martial law. The city was roiled by arrests; a friend at McGill known for his New Left sympathies saw his flat raided; the police confiscated books, including, he laughed nervously, one entitled “Cubism”. Lévesque despised the violence of the underground, but was undeterred in his commitment to pursue national sovereignty democratically, ultimately through a referendum. In 1968, he had founded Le Parti Québécois. Jews, like most English-speaking residents of Quebec, were shocked when Lévesque was unexpectedly elected Premier in 1976. This proved the cue. Tens of thousands moved to Toronto. Some Jewish intellectuals, professionals, and artists stayed, but most left, and the amity of the sixties dimmed. Cohen kept a house in Montreal, but as his fame as a songwriter grew he spent little time there. Nevertheless, something of his native Montreal could not be shaken off—the short, sweet tradition of which Cohen was, in a sense, the end. In his 1978 poem “The Death of a Ladies’ Man,” Cohen writes of a lover’s “high religious mood” brought low by the dangers of desire: “She beckoned to the sentry / of his high religious mood. / She said, ‘I’ll make a space between my legs, / I’ll teach you solitude.’ ” You hear the resonances of Cohen’s own religious mood, and Montreal’s, in the lyrics of many songs—“Sisters of Mercy,” “Story of Isaac,” “Who by Fire,” “If It Be Your Will”—culminating, perhaps, with “Hallelujah.” The resonances and the losses are even clearer, I think, when you go to the start of the tradition—roughly, Klein to Layton to Cohen—rather than hear only its end. Klein’s 1947 poem “The Cripples,” about French Catholic worshippers at St. Joseph’s Oratory, which I quoted from earlier, reaches this climax: They know, they know, that suddenly their cares and orthopedics will fall from them, and they stand whole again. Roll empty away, wheelchairs, and crutches, without armpits, hop away! And I who in my own faith once had faith like this, but have not now, am crippled more than they. There you have it: a freethinking Montreal Jew, in whose bones the Torah was bred, inventing precise English lines to express envy for French Catholic piety. “Anything beautiful is not your own,” Cohen told a Jewish student newspaper in 1966. “When I write, I place myself in contact with something much more glorious than anything I can pull up from within myself.” Poetry was unlocked by reverence. But reverence might, ironically, embolden the poet to cross boundaries, to perhaps court one of those beautiful Westmount girls. And if you did, if you touched the dew on her hem, you could throw your crutches away. *Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified the election year that the Liberal Party came to power.
  11. A quick word for English Language dispute. Quebec parents challenge French Language Charter ELIZABETH THOMPSON, The Gazette Published: 6 hours ago Quebec parents challenging the constitutionality of a Quebec law that blocks some children who attend English private schools from transferring into English public schools will get their day before Canada's top court in December. The Supreme Court of Canada has set aside Dec. 15 to hear two cases that pit the Canadian Charter of Rights against Bill 104, leading some to hope that a final decision in the dispute could now be rendered in time for the start of the 2009 school year. "It appears the court is doing everything it can to hear the case as quickly as possible," said Brent Tyler, lawyer for the parents. The cases centre on Bill 104, adopted by the Parti Québécois government in 2002. Prior to Bill 104, children who were otherwise ineligible to attend English school under the terms of the French Language Charter, Bill 101, could become eligible to attend English public schools after spending at least a year in an unsubsidized English-language private school. Attending English school under a special authorization, such as for a temporary work permit or for humanitarian reasons, could also make a child and their siblings eligible for English education. At the heart of the case is the issue of which takes precedence - the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides that children who have attended English schools, and their siblings, have the right to attend English schools in Quebec, or Quebec's language charter. Although the parents in both cases lost at the lower court level, they won at the Quebec Court of Appeal which struck down Bill 104, saying the law was inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights. Tyler said the parents got more good news recently when they learned that the federal court challenges program, which was cut then partially restored by the Conservative government, has agreed to provide $70,000 in funding to fight the two cases before the Supreme Court. Tyler says the outcome of the cases could have a significant impact on English schools in Quebec - particularly in the Montreal area. Tyler said there has been a steady stream of English school closures in the Montreal area since Bill 104 was introduced and the phenomenon is more pronounced in areas of town that had been receiving students who became eligible for education in English school by attending a private school. The English Montreal School Board has estimated it has lost about 450 students a year since Bill 104 was adopted. The stakes are high for many private schools as well, said Tyler. Many English private schools in Montreal accept government money at the high school level, but not at the primary level, meaning they can accept students ineligible under Bill 101 in elementary school but not in high school. "On average, 30 per cent of the children enrolled in the primary programs of these schools now will not be able to continue in the same schools if Bill 104 is upheld by the Supreme Court," said Tyler. The challenge to Bill 104 is just one of several cases the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this fall - many of them from Quebec. The first case to be heard, on Oct. 7, will be a challenge by a group of Hutterites to an Alberta law obliging everyone to have their photo on their driver's licences. The Hutterites argue the law violates their religious freedom because their religion believes that the second commandment prohibits them from having their photograph taken willingly. [email protected]