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  1. Reclusive billionaire Robert Miller built a business empire far from the public eye. Now, a bitter divorce has thrown his legacy into question. By Joe Castaldo From Canadian Business magazine, September 27, 2010 http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/strategy/article.jsp?content=20100927_10022_10022&page=1 To say Robert Miller is a reluctant interview is a grand understatement. He has avoided attention his entire career, and there are no doubt countless activities he would much rather be doing right now than standing in his opulent office with a reporter. He has previously given a single media interview since co-founding Future Electronics Inc., a multinational distributor of electronic components based in Pointe-Claire, Que., that generates nearly $4 billion in revenue each year. Miller is the sole owner. He has never authorized a picture of himself to be published, and his name is rarely, if ever, attached to his extensive charity work. Miller does not do public appearances. He will never be seen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony or posing with an oversized novelty cheque. His desire for privacy has been his most identifiable trait — aside from his wealth. This magazine estimated his net worth last year at $1.19 billion. Forbes magazine valued him at US$2.5 billion. In the absence of any visible public image, the one surrounding Miller is that of an eccentric billionaire recluse. But now he has welcomed a reporter into his office, extending a large hand and wearing a warm smile. He is a tall, lanky man with a slightly stooped posture, sporting a pair of chunky black orthopedic shoes and rimless glasses. At 65, his hair is tinged with grey. He says he would like to write a book about Future Electronics some day. "It's an amazing story," he says in a gravelly baritone. "It could fill 600, 700 pages." The meeting comes at a time when the comfortable, profitable obscurity in which both Miller and his company have operated is threatened. He is in the midst of a long-running and acrimonious divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Margaret Antonier, which has thrown this most private of men and his business empire into an unflattering spotlight. The pair was married for nearly 38 years before Miller filed for divorce in 2005. Assets likely totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, are at stake, but the exact details of the proceedings are sealed in a Montreal court. The legal battles do not end there. In June, Miller filed lawsuits in Florida and Montreal against Antonier and the real estate development company they co-own, Miromar Development Inc. He is alleging Antonier and another executive are shutting him out of the company, and have even siphoned money from the firm. Antonier's lawyers, meanwhile, have accused Miller of "horrendous personal behaviour," the specifics of which are outlined in a filing Miller's lawyers have requested the court keep sealed. A Florida newspaper picked up on the case, followed by the Journal de Montreal, which splashed a picture of Miller across its front page, the first photo of him ever published. What it all means for the business empire he built remains to be seen. For Miller himself, it means reluctantly inching from the shadows to take hold of his public image. But that image is anything but simple. Current and former employees — even competitors — describe him as a genius and a visionary. Everything about him, from the way that he operates his company and interacts with employees to the many varied causes he supports (cryogenics research, for one) contribute to the image of a tycoon unlike any other. The more he reveals, the question "Who is Robert Miller?" becomes all the more difficult to answer. The basic biographic details are simple enough: Miller was born in 1945 and raised in Montreal, and later studied at what was then called the Rider Business College in New Jersey. He worked as a radio disc jockey in New Jersey in the 1960s, where his music program, The Bob Miller Show, aired three hours a day during the week and six hours on Sundays. He moved back to Montreal and joined a small wholesaler called Specialty Electronics. Owner Ben Manis, an acquaintance, hired him. Miller threw himself into the job and became close with Manis's son, Eli, who also worked at Specialty. But the younger Manis eventually had a disagreement with his father and left the company. Miller suggested he and Eli go into business for themselves. In 1968, they started Future Electronics out of a small rented office in Montreal. They essentially acted as middlemen, buying obscure electronic parts from component manufacturers and selling them to makers of finished products, ranging from consumer goods to industrial equipment. Manis says he came up with the name. "I just sort of said, let's forget the past. Look to the future," he says. The company grew steadily, and Miller proved to be a workaholic. To Manis, who didn't share his partner's devotion, it wasn't evident Miller had any outside interests. "Something came into his head, and he said, 'What do I need him for?'" Manis recalls. In 1976, Miller bought his partner's half of the company for $500,000. Future operated differently nearly from the start. Distributors in this industry are essentially stores for electronic components, but typically try to limit their inventory, reducing costs and risks. Component prices are volatile, and no one wants to sell product at a loss. Instead, Miller bought large quantities of components when they were cheap. He then charged a significant markup selling to equipment manufacturers when demand hit. Put crudely, Miller made his name as a speculator in electronic parts, and he's an exceptionally gifted one. One former vice-president who asked to remain anonymous recalls only one slip-up in his 15 years at the company, and there were consequences. "Some people were demoted," he says. Miller is often credited with having an intuitive sense of the market, but his moves are based on excellent intelligence. He got to know many of the executives at component makers in part to find out where manufacturing would be constrained. "Just through networking, he got a feel for what commodities would be hot," says the former VP. Holding inventory has another major advantage. "We became known for being the one place you could go to and always find product," says Gregg Smith, another former vice-president, adding that was how Future won new customers. The model works because Future is privately held. Building out the infrastructure to hold loads of inventory is expensive and tough to justify to shareholders. So too are speculative bets. But as the sole proprietor, Miller is accountable only to himself. Today, the product marketing department, mostly housed at headquarters, is the heart of the company. The department buys from suppliers and sets resale prices for Future branches across the world. Competitors assign product marketers to work with specific suppliers, but Miller turns the model on its head. His employees focus exclusively on a component group, becoming experts able to see trends in the market for specific parts. The job is demanding. "The phone is ringing non-stop," recalls a former employee. "It would be usual to have three or four lines on hold while taking another call and trying to close a deal." The pace takes its toll on some. One former employee recalls developing migraines, another, stomach pains. (Future has a medical clinic on-site). Lindsay Blackett worked at Future for six years in sales and marketing, and is now Alberta's culture minister. "Politics, people think it's hardball. But it's nothing compared to Future," he says. In the 1990s, when Blackett worked at Future, Miller would call up individual workers on the floor to inquire about particular deals. "That could be very intimidating, or very rewarding," he says. "He knew what everyone was doing in that building." Competition thrives at Future, which not everyone can handle. "Robert Miller sat on a cloud like Zeus and said, 'Go at it, boys,'" recalls the former VP. "He saw that through confrontation, people would excel." Those who do perform rise quickly through the ranks, and salespeople can make hefty commissions. More than 10 years ago, Future bought massive amounts of tantalum capacitors, used in mobile devices, before the wireless boom hit. When it did, supply was scarce — except at Future. The company sold millions of them a month with a markup as high as 2,000%. Gross profits were so large that for a couple of years, Miller held monthly meetings with sales staff in the auditorium. He handed out their commission cheques individually, from smallest to biggest, announcing the sum for all to hear. The largest topped six figures. Those at the bottom were driven, not only by the desire for bigger commissions but out of embarrassment, to make more and bigger sales. Employees who have little interaction with Miller tend to regard him with a mixture of apprehension and awe. Spotting their boss loping through the hallways is akin to a celebrity sighting. Usually the only opportunities for many to lay eyes on their leader are the addresses he gives roughly once a quarter. He'll often speak for well over an hour, sometimes two. "I always say the intellectual property for Future Electronics is Robert's brain," says Lindsley Ruth, a corporate vice-president. Even employees many years removed from the company still respectfully refer to him as Mr. Miller. Those who work more closely with Miller say he offers plenty of encouragement and room to be entrepreneurial. A few years ago, Jamie Singerman, currently a corporate vice-president at the company, was rolling out a new division called Future Lighting Solutions, which is focused on the LED market. Future didn't have expertise in that area, and building it up required lots of investment. "I went in with a presentation," Singerman recalls. Miller didn't look at it and instead asked if it was the right thing to do. "I said yes, and he said, 'Done.'" Miller is sometimes unpredictable, however. A few years ago, some of the product specialists in Montreal were told not to come in for a month to allow their managers to fill in and become more knowledgeable about the parts the company was dealing with. A former product specialist says many of his colleagues felt they would no longer be needed, and started looking for other jobs. The managers, meanwhile, were overworked and started polishing up their resumés, too. "If the exercise was a natural culling exercise," says the former employee, "it worked." The first time people outside the industry heard of Future Electronics or Robert Miller came on May 7, 1999, when some 30 RCMP officers, in the presence of an FBI agent, raided corporate headquarters. They toted away dozens of boxes of material for reasons officials would not disclose. The company's lawyers successfully fought in court to keep investigators from looking at the seized material, arguing the search was unjust. After six months of media lawyers wrangling in court, the search warrant detailing the reason for the raid was unsealed by the Supreme Court of Canada. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged Future was defrauding a handful of U.S.-based suppliers out of approximately US$100 million a year. The company was accused of maintaining two sets of accounting records — one real, one false — and only Miller and select executives, dubbed the A-Team, had access. The false records were allegedly used to take advantage of debits and rebate programs from suppliers so that Future could pad its margins. Miller never spoke to the press, but Future issued statements denying any wrongdoing and calling the allegations "absurd." There were also whispers the whole investigation was sparked by disgruntled ex-employees, and based on a misunderstanding of how the distribution business worked. More than a year later, Future's lawyers succeeded in quashing the search warrant that justified the raid, and the seized material was returned without having been examined. Nearly three years after the initial search, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its investigation entirely. Neither that investigation nor anything else has kept Miller from expanding his company to become the fourth-largest electronics distributor in the world. Future Lighting Solutions is booming, scaling up from virtually nothing in 2004 to nearly $350 million in revenue today. The division, which doesn't simply distribute parts but works with customers to meet specific lighting needs, could some day rival the size of the components business. The company is also re-launching a division called Future Active Industrial that focuses on the countless smaller customers generally ignored by larger distributors. The beneficiaries of Future's success spill far beyond the company's headquarters. Miller committed years ago to giving away more than half his earnings to charity. Much of it goes to employees and their families. Miller receives many letters from employees seeking help, often for medical issues. Gina Galardo joined Future 17 years ago as an administrative assistant, but over the years, fielding these requests eventually took over her job. Lori-Ann MacDonald was brought on six years ago to assist. In an interview in a Future boardroom, they explain that when a letter comes in, they conduct research to find the best doctors or specialists, book appointments, provide moral support or anything else that needs doing. Miller has a deep interest in medical research with extensive connections in the community, and can usually immediately recommend a doctor or clinic. He has paid for expensive medical procedures for countless employees, and finds time for hospital visits and phone calls. "Should we get the binders?" MacDonald asks. She makes a phone call, and two other assistants enter, each with two five-inch-thick binders in their arms. The binders are brimming with letters and thank-you cards from employees, organized alphabetically by name. Galardo and MacDonald are soon lost recounting the stories on each page. There is even a section on Ben Manis, the man who hired Miller at Specialty Electronics back in 1967. Manis is in his mid-90s today. Miller employed him at Future for a time and set him up with an apartment across from headquarters. He now supports Manis's accommodations in a seniors' residence, and has allotted money for his funeral. The two have lunch plans for Manis's 100th birthday, however. "I think this sums up Mr. Miller," Galardo says, turning the page. The allegations being made in a Florida civil court against Miller by his ex-wife stand in stark contrast to the benevolent man who never says no to a worthy cause. Miller married Margaret Antonier in 1967. They had two sons, and Antonier remained an active businesswoman. She originally worked in radio advertising, and in 1988, Miromar Development Inc. was formed and received financing from Future Electronics. Miller and Antonier each own 50% of the real estate firm, and Antonier serves as chief executive officer. "I have learned the business from the ground up," Antonier wrote in response to e-mailed questions. "I am pretty hard on myself when it comes to succeeding." Miromar built Canada's first outlet mall, in Montreal, and in the mid-1990s, began developing properties in Lee County, Fla., including an 1,800-acre residential resort with a private beach and golf course. Employed at Miromar was Robert Roop, who had worked at Future for 20 years prior. He served as the company's chief financial officer at the time he resigned and moved to Florida to work at Miromar with Antonier. The lawsuit against the firm states Antonier and Roop became "romantically involved," but does not specify when. In 2005, for reasons that remain under seal in a Montreal court, Miller filed for divorce. Antonier's lawyers in Florida say she filed a demand in the divorce proceeding for Miller's stake in Miromar, a company "she created and operated for decades," be transferred to her and that loans owed to Future Electronics by Miromar be forgiven. Miller sought a valuation of Miromar's assets, and in 2008, he filed a lawsuit in Florida to get access to its corporate records that he was allegedly being denied. The case plodded on until February, when Miller voluntarily dismissed it. But in June, Miller filed new lawsuits in Florida and Montreal, including a declaration from Frank Holder, a senior manager at a forensic consulting firm hired to probe Miromar. Holder concluded Antonier and Roop are violating Miller's rights as a shareholder and director in Miromar by excluding him from the company, and refuse to provide full access to corporate documents. He also claims to have discovered Antonier and Roop engaging in "various acts of misconduct, including theft and diversion of corporate funds." Miller is seeking for a receiver to be put in place. Lawyers for Antonier in Florida refute all of the charges and dismiss Holder's account as baseless, arguing criteria for installing a receiver have not been met. They also contend the suit is designed to delay the divorce proceedings, alleging "wrongful acts" on Miller's part and arguing he has a "desperate desire to avoid the consequences of the Canadian divorce proceedings." That case is sealed, and it is unknown what either party is seeking in those proceedings. None of the allegations in the Miromar litigation have been proven in court, and neither side will comment on the cases. But the disputes and the resulting publicity cut very close to the bone for Miller. Not even during the three-year-long ordeal with U.S. authorities did he speak with reporters. But after researching Future Electronics for weeks, this magazine received a call from the company's general counsel with an almost unprecedented invitation: Miller was willing to sit down and talk. Miller is reticent to say too much about himself or the company. He wants to save the best material for the book. But he has agreed to an interview, provided it is not recorded. Similarly, he would not pose for a photograph. He certainly is not afraid of the camera, however. Hanging on the wall opposite his desk are two huge portraits, one of Miller solo in a suit, another of him shaking hands with Quebec Premier Jean Charest. His aversion to published photographs, he explains, stems from his desire for security for himself and his sons. Miller speaks slowly, but has an intense manner. He leans forward when talking, his bushy eyebrows shooting up when he wants to emphasize point, and rarely breaks eye contact. He has a habit of saying whatever pops into his head. While making a point tangentially related to health, he offers that "I have colonoscopies with startling regularity." He also has a knack for numbers. He can remember exactly when Eli Manis phoned him to say he had quit Specialty Electronics: Nov. 20, 1968, at 4:45 p.m. The phone number at Future Electronics' first office? 418-7701. The number of stairs leading up to that office? Thirty-two. He politely deflects most personal questions. He is more comfortable expounding on Future's unique operating model — based on inventory and market research, rather than pipelining product. "It's so basic that it amazes me that our competitors don't recognize the benefit of having inventory," he says. "Inventory drives sales." He attributes much of the company's success to its privately held status. As a sole proprietorship, it can move much more quickly than its competitors. The fact that Miller doesn't have to answer to shareholders or a board of directors also allows Future to offer the longest customer payment terms in the industry, up to 180 days. "Our competitors can't compete with us. They would be clobbered if they did that," he says. The possibility of taking Future public has never seriously crossed his mind. Miller says he had no business mentors. "It all came to me. It's a gift. I just knew what to do," he says. A strange, metaphysical thread runs through some of his other explanations for his success. Take his work ethic. There was a time he worked 765 days in a row, without a day off, and rarely left the office before 11 p.m. He accounts for this drive by telling a story of walking the streets of Montreal once as a teenager and seeing a red Thunderbird convertible. He knew he had to have one some day. "I recall talking to myself. I said, 'Boy, you're really special.' I think that was a real turning point." He pauses. "But I had just been swimming, and I later read swimming releases endorphins. It's a natural high." He reached another turning point in the early-1970s, when his motivation shifted from material wealth to something larger. When one of his acquaintances passed away, Miller was one of only three people to attend his funeral. "I didn't want that to be me," he says. Charity took on a greater importance from that moment. In fact, growing Future's profits in order to have more money to give away is his primary motivation. "I believe you give till it hurts," he says. Talking about specific causes would take hours, he adds, but he does tell a story of a former employee diagnosed with cancer. Miller sent her to a specialist and ultimately paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her treatment. "Your encouragement ... for treatment gave me the last three years of my life," she wrote to Miller in a letter delivered after her death in 1995. Nearly all of his charity work has been done anonymously. "I'm not seeking attention," he says. The one area to which Miller's name has been attached is cryogenics research. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona has even described Future Electronics as its greatest benefactor. "These people are doing so much," he says. "They're pure, pure people." There have long been rumours Miller will have himself cryo-preserved when he dies. "I'll leave it to my sons to decide," he says. He is in good health today, though. In fact, he recommends the line of "life extension" vitamins marketed by the foundation. "They're the finest vitamins known to man," he boasts. "You should take them." After talking for a couple of hours, Miller signals an end to the interview. It's 10:30 p.m., and he's been awake since five in the morning. He walks to the door, again proffering his hand and a smile. There are still many unanswered questions: the backstory to all of the legal proceedings, what he has in store for Future, and whether his new-found openness will last. But he's closed the door. We'll have to wait for the book.
  2. nephersir7

    Gare Kahnawake

    C'est passé sous le radar, mais depuis quelques temps, Kahnawake est en train de sonder l'intérêt pour la mise en service d'une nouvelle gare de la ligne Candiac sur son territoire. http://www.kahnawake.com/pr_text.asp?ID=2904 http://www.kahnawake.com/pr_text.asp?ID=2932 On sait que l'AMT avait déjà investi 100k$ pour une étude de concept entre 2010 et 2012 On peut donc imaginer que le projet pourrait se concrétiser quand le MTQ décidera finalement de s'occuper de son pont qui tombe en ruines.
  3. WOW! I used to watch Wrastlin' when I was a kid and I always liked Macho man. When your time is up, your time is up! http://www.cyberpresse.ca/sports/201105/20/01-4401488-randy-macho-man-savage-meurt-dans-un-accident.php?utm_categorieinterne=trafficdrivers&utm_contenuinterne=cyberpresse_les-plus-populaires-title_article_ECRAN1POS2 Randy «Macho Man» Savage meurt dans un accident L'ancien lutteur professionnel Randy «Macho Man» Savage est décédé aujourd'hui dans un accident d'automobile à Tampa, en Floride. La nouvelle a été rapportée par TMZ, qui en a reçu la confirmation par le frère de Randy, Lanny Poffo. Selon ce dernier, Savage, 58 ans, a subi une crise cardiaque vers 9h25 alors qu'il était au volant de sa Jeep Wrangler, dont il a perdu la maîtrise. Il a alors enjambé le terre-plein pour traverser la voie inverse et terminer sa course avec un impact frontal contre un arbre. Il a été transporté au centre médical Largo, où il a succombé à ses blessures. Sa femme Lynn, qu'il avait épousé il y a tout juste un an, était avec lui dans la voiture. Elle n'a subi que des blessures mineures. Les deux portaient leur ceinture de sécurité. L'alcool ne serait pas en cause dans l'accident, selon les services de police.
  4. jesseps

    Google Fiber

    Read more at http://9to5google.com/#KtzmPqKgJf6xvBI3.99 1 Gbps with unlimited data all for $70/month Damn you Kansas City (Kansas / Missouri) Oh yah did I forget 1TB of space in Google Drive.
  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjTs3iZ7OHI The Montreal Gazette About time. Sucks that they charge 0.40 cents per transaction though.
  6. October 13, 2009, 2:53pm WASHINGTON, October 12, 2009 (AFP) - Cash-rich US researchers have again dominated this year's Nobel awards, but it seems identifying the nationality of laureates is not an exact science, and change may be on the way. On the face of things, the United States would top an Olympic-style medals table of Nobel prize wins. Eleven of this year's 13 laureates are citizens of the United States, winning five of the six Nobel awards up for grabs. Even President Barack Obama pocketed a medal. Since the end of World War II, the United States has scooped up 89 Nobel awards for medicine, 74 for physics, 58 for chemistry and dozens more for economics, peace and literature, beating its closest contenders in Britain, France and Germany. Unsurprisingly then, the rest of the world is left to ask how the United States does it. The answer may be, in part, "It doesn't." A look at the curricula vitae of this year's Nobel science winners -- which make up four of the six awards -- shows a complex patchwork of academics criss-crossing the globe to reach the top their profession. "You have to ask where they studied," said Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, an American who has written a book profiling female Nobel laureates. "Many of our scientists have done their post-docs in Europe," she said, pointing to high migration levels among top scientists. This year's crop of laureates shows just how difficult it is to determine the nationality of globe-trotting laureates, especially based on Nobel citations which use citizenship at the time of award. Charles Kao who shared the 2009 prize for physics for his work in developing fiber optics is a US citizen, but he was born in Shanghai, educated in London and now lives in Hong Kong. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who shared the prize for chemistry, was born in India, works in Britain, but has US citizenship. Australian-born Elizabeth Blackburn is also a US citizen, but studied at the universities of Melbourne and Cambridge before a post doctoral degree at Yale. Willard Boyle, who won also shared the physics prize for his work on semiconductors, is Canadian and studied at Montreal's McGill University, but now has American citizenship. Obama -- despite claims by his most vociferous critics -- is among the most unquestionably American of the laureates. According to research from Britain's University of Warwick, published last January, scientific migration is common, and vastly beneficial to the United States. "Nearly half of the world's most-cited physicists work outside their country of birth," the study said. A survey of 158 of the most highly cited physicists showed systematic migration to nations with large research and development spending, most notably the United States. "At birth, 29.7 percent of physicists are in the USA. This increases to 43.4 percent at first degree, to 55.1 percent at PhD, and to 67.1 percent presently," the report said. "In 1987-2006, for example, five out of fourteen of all UK-educated laureates had moved to the USA by the time they won the Nobel prize." Still, the United States can claim to have forged the institutes and universities that attract top-flight researchers for award-winning research. According to State Department figures, every year the United States issues over 35,000 visas for exceptional scientists and others who flock to well-funded institutes. But the real key to US Nobel dominance, according to Roger Geiger, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University, is cash -- particularly the massive influx of cash to the US education system after World War II. "We were funding research when others were not, or when others could not," he said pointing to post-war Europe's economic malaise. That advantage has stuck. Today, Harvard University's endowment alone is worth around $27 billion, roughly equal to Costa Rica's gross domestic product. Still, Harvard's nest egg has shrunk by $10 billion since the start of the fiscal year thanks to a financial crisis that Geiger says will erode American universities' attraction. "The crisis has been longer and more deeply felt in the United States, that will have an impact," he said. At the same time, European and Asian universities are increasing the type of innovative research that wins awards. "Other countries have recognized the importance of this type of competition," said Geiger who sees change already taking place. "The rest of the world is competing, the law of numbers says they will catch up. If you look at publication and citation counts, Nobel prizes are a lagging indicator." In some disciplines, the playing field has already been leveled and could provide a glimpse of the competition if other regions match US funding levels. Europeans still dominate the Fields Medal for mathematics or the Pritzker Prize for architecture, both areas which can require less research funding. An American has not won the Nobel Prize for Literature since Toni Morrison's award 16 years ago. As one Nobel judge tersely put it Americans "don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature." But in the sciences at least, Americans are not only part of the dialogue, but still have the last word, even if the word is spoken with a foreign lilt. http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/224495/us-nobel-sweep-points-brain-drain
  7. Launch of a love affair Ratings for Lévesque’s TV program sometimes hit an amazing 100 per cent by Daniel Poliquin on Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:20am - 0 Comments macleans.ca By the mid-1950s, Quebecers, like most other Canadians, had fallen in love with television. So overwhelming was the coup de foudre that although in some regions near the U.S. border only American broadcasts would come in, unilingual French Quebecers lapped it up anyway. Kids could be seen in the streets of small towns re-enacting their favourite show, The Adventures of Kit Carson, speaking in a made-up mumbo-jumbo language they believed was English. That was how it sounded to them anyway. Four out of five households in the province had a television set. And when the French-speaking people of Canada were all able to view locally made, francophone productions, they became a tight-knit virtual family, discussing at length the ending of the last sitcom or drama millions of others had watched, adopting as their own actors and actresses they had grown fond of, or, conversely, expressing unanimous hate for TV villains like Séraphin, the miser in the seemingly endless Les Belles Histoires des Pays d’En-Haut, which everybody watched. For good reason, too: there was only one French-language TV station; Radio-Canada’s monopoly ensured that all, and I mean all, francophones growing up in Quebec in the 1950s and 1960s shared a single TV culture. Lévesque was a regular commentator on current events programs, but he was mainly heard on the radio—until someone at Radio-Canada had the good sense to give him his own television show in October 1957. Here begins the legend of René Lévesque. The show was called Point de mire (Focal Point) and it was a 30-minute live broadcast first airing on Sundays at 11:15 p.m., and later, due to the show’s growing popularity, on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. For many, it was another coup de foudre. Here was this little man with the funny voice, equipped with a blackboard, a pointer, and maps, explaining the outside world to French-speaking Canadians, talking very fast but using only intelligible words. Let me paraphrase him: “Good evening. Thank you for joining me. Tonight, we are off to the Suez. It’s in Egypt, the land of the pharaohs that became mummies, you know, the land of the pyramids and the Sphinx. Here on the map is a canal, called Suez, built by French and British engineers in the last century. You can see here that it links up the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. So a very important route for international trade, because, thanks to the canal, ships stopped having to go all around the African continent to take their goods to the Orient, or the other way around. See?” (He would circle Africa with his pointer.) “Without Suez, the cup of tea from India you just had would cost you more because it would have to travel much farther. You follow me? Now, the Egyptians no longer have pharaohs. Egypt is now a republic, led by a man they call the Raïs—which means ‘president’ in Arabic—a man by the name of Nasser. So . . .” And on he would go. For many Quebecers with little schooling, Point de mire became their first window on the world. Not everybody watched, but those who did were enthralled, especially news junkies and all those hungry for knowledge. And in Duplessis’ Quebec, there were a lot of them. Thanks to the Radio-Canada monopoly, Lévesque’s ratings sometimes reached 100 per cent: a dream for any broadcaster and now an impossible feat, even on a day such as Sept. 11, 2001. To take the helm of Point de mire, Lévesque had had to give up his comfortable job as a broadcaster, with the guaranteed income, pension, and other benefits. But he was now earning $20,000 a year—more than any cabinet minister, provincial or federal. The real payoff, however, was instant celebrity. René Lévesque was now the star journalist who could explain the school desegregation in Little Rock, Ark.; the violent decolonization of Algeria; or the partition of Berlin and Cyprus. He could not walk the streets of Quebec without being accosted by adoring fans who would stop him to shake his hand and thank him. And he was more than loved; he was respected. In the words of novelist and social commentator Jacques Godbout, Lévesque was Quebec’s “first lay teacher.” Of course, the viewers did not see the man who never read his fan mail and never returned phone calls. Undisciplined but hard-working, incessantly feasting on magazines and newspapers in his smoke-filled office or at McGill’s nearby library to prepare for his weekly rendezvous with live television. Stressed out, as we would say today, but always focused. The badly dressed and unsuspected Lothario with doubtful hygiene who ate, talked, and smoked all at once, leaving a mess behind him all the time, driving like a madman in the streets in Montreal. Famous for his all-night poker playing, his chain-smoking; fond of sleeping late and seldom on time for appointments. Never at home, never where he was supposed to be. It was as though he was living three lives at the same time. During those years that he met Pierre Trudeau. The meeting took place in the Radio-Canada cafeteria, where artists and journalists congregated between assignments to talk and reshape the world in keeping with the fantasies and ideals in vogue. Trudeau was then a law professor and sometime TV commentator known for his scathing wit and erudition. He was well travelled, one of the few men in Canada who had visited China and reported on it. His Cité Libre was one of the very rare publications that dared to criticize Duplessis and public policy. Its circulation was of confidential proportions, but it was influential within the small, thinking elite of the era. The person who introduced them was journalist Gérard Pelletier, who was a friend of both Trudeau and Lévesque. For once, as Pelletier said later, Lévesque was not running, slowed down by the overflowing cup of coffee in his one hand and the stack of newspapers under his other arm. Pelletier motioned to him to come and sit down with him and the slightly balding man with the piercing blue eyes. He had wanted the two to meet for a long time. For the occasion, Trudeau put on his best snotty-nosed behaviour, complete with the French mid-Atlantic accent he had acquired at Montreal’s Jesuit-run Brébeuf College. Lévesque played the nonchalant TV star. This is how Pelletier remembers their conversation. I’ve added what I imagine must have been their internal dialogue in square brackets. Trudeau: Ah, the famous René Lévesque! How do you do? [Your Point de mire celebrity does not impress me at all, you should know that.] You speak well, sir, very well, but tell me something: can you write, too? Lévesque: Yes, but you know, writing takes time . . . [Don’t even think for a minute I would waste a second reading your Cité Libre . . .] Trudeau: Yes, you are right. You need time, and you also need to have ideas of your own, things to say, you know . . . [Watch out, buddy, I bite too.] The two were chalk and cheese from the get-go. They would meet again. From Extraordinary Canadians: René Lévesque by Daniel Poliquin. Copyright © Daniel Poliquin, 2009. Reprinted with permission of Penguin Group (Canada).
  8. 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. 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.
  10. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/Economics+lefties/1633305/story.html
  11. China's Arithmetic When It Comes to the Dollar “It will be helpful if Geithner can show us some arithmetic” -Yu Yongding From the lens of a global risk manager, this morning has to be one of the more fascinating that I have ever woken up to. At the same time as the US Government is setting themselves up to announce one of the largest bankruptcies in US corporate history, we have a squirrel hunting US Treasury Secretary telling the Chinese to “trust us” and America’s currency. That a boy! Providing leadership to the world’s increasingly interconnected economy is by no means an easy task, and maybe that’s why the world is voting against America holding the world’s reserve Currency Conch any longer. Timmy Geithner’s effectiveness with the Chinese translators overseas this morning is borderline laughable. There was a time when the Wizards of Wall Street’s Oz could fly overseas and make a comment like “we are committed to a strong dollar” and it would actually matter. Rather than getting on a plane and shaking hands with The Client (China) himself, President Obama opted to send the same guy that called the holder of $768B in US Debt “manipulators"... Nice! When it comes to financial market sophistication, other countries aren’t as gullible as they used to be. An internet connection and You Tube screen have effectively changed all that. On the heels of Timmy’s “reassuring” comments, the US Dollar is getting spanked again, trading down another -0.73% to lower-lows at $78.63. Rather than fading Geithner from my soapbox, now the world is – it’s sad. I understand that this is all doesn’t matter yet because someone on CNBC is hopped-up about where the US futures ramped into Friday’s close and look here on today’s open. That manic behavior really helps America’s reputation. At the end of the day, the US stock market could go up another 6% to 9% today, and it would still be amongst one of the worst performing stock markets in the world. The Dollar moving into crisis mode matters. First, all of the reflation trades pay themselves out in full. Second, all of the global political capital associated with the almighty Petro-Dollar gets redistributed. And Third, well… rather than analyzing this as the said Great Depression Part Deux… how about another Third Quarter of 2008 in US Equities? Nah, that’s crazy right? Like they say in the Canadian Junior Hockey Leagues, “crazy is as crazy does”! There are loads of unintended consequences associated with a US Dollar crashing – the only other sustainable break we’ve seen in the US Dollar Index below the $80 level since 1971 (when Nixon abandoned the gold standard), was that one that led us to that 2008 Third Quarter… After locking in another +5.3% month for May, the S&P500 is up a whopping +1.8% for the YTD. Unlike most global equity markets that are charging to higher-highs this morning, the S&P500 is still trading below its January 6th high of 934. On the heels of another strong, albeit not herculean PMI manufacturing report last night (it decelerated slightly month over month), China’s stock market charged to higher-highs, closing up another +3.4%. The Shanghai Composite Index is now +49.5% YTD, and we, as our British philosophy competitor likes to say remain “long of it.” From Hong Kong to Russia, stock markets are up +4 to +6% this morning. Why? Because, much like the only other time we saw the US Dollar break down to these levels, everything that China needs reflates. Oil prices and the promises of a potentially empowering Chinese handshake have the Russian Trading System Index (RTSI) up +83% for 2009 to-date. Now that and the price of oil trading up +19% in less than 2-weeks is getting someone paid - and it isn’t the American Consumer! As she trashes her currency, America will continue to lose political capital both domestically and abroad. After all, a -12% three-month swan dive in the US Dollar has hacked over $90 Billion of value from the Chinese position in US Treasuries. Creditors and citizenry hush yourselves! All the while, 17 out of 23 Chinese economists polled are calling holding those Treasuries a “great risk” this morning. I know, I know… an economist or a billion US Dollars ain't what it used to be… At some point, China’s interpretation of the arithmetic is going to really matter.
  12. A ADN Any day now AFAIK As far as I know AFK Away from keyboard ARE Acronym-rich environment ASAP As soon as possible A/S/L? Age/sex/location? B B4N Bye for now BAK Back at the keyboard BBIAB Be back in a bit BBL Be back later BBN Bye bye now BBS Be back soon BEG Big evil grin BF Boy friend BFN Bye for now BG Big grin BIBO Beer in, beer out BIOYIOP Blow it out your I/O port BL Belly laughing BMGWL Busting my gut with laughter BOTEC Back-of-the-envelope calculation BRB Be right back BTA But then again... BTDT Been there, done that BTW By the way BWL Bursting with laughter BWTHDIK But what the heck do I know...? C CICO Coffee in, coffee out C&G Chuckle and grin CNP Continued in next post CRB Come right back CRBT Crying real big tears CU See you CUL See you later CUL8ER See you later CYA See ya CYA Cover your *** CYO See you online D DBA Doing business as DFLA Disenchanted four-letter acronym (that is, a TLA) DL Dead link DLTBBB Don't let the bed bugs bite DIKU Do I know you? DITYID Did I tell you I'm distressed? DOM Dirty old man DOS Dozing off soon DQMOT Don't quote me on this DTRT Do the right thing DWB Don't write back E EG Evil grin EMFBI Excuse me for butting in EMSG E-mail message EOM End of message EOT End of thread (meaning: end of discussion) ETLA Extended three-letter acronym (that is, an FLA) F F2F Face to face FAQ Frequently-ask question(s) FC Fingers crossed FISH First in, still here FLA Four-letter acronym FMTYEWTK Far more than you ever wanted to know FOMCL Falling off my chair laughing FTBOMH From the bottom of my heart FUD Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt FWIW For what it's worth FYI For your information G G Grin GA Go ahead GAL Get a life GIGO Garbage in, garbage out GD&R Grinning, ducking, and running GF Girlfriend GFN Gone for now GGP Gotta go pee GIWIST Gee, I wish I'd said that GL Good luck GMAB Give me a break GMTA Great minds think alike GOL Giggling out loud GTRM Going to read mail GTSY Glad to see you H H&K Hug and kiss HAGN Have a good night HAND Have a nice day HHIS Hanging head in shame HIG How's it going HT Hi there HTH Hope this helps HUB Head up butt I IAC In any case IAE In any event IANAL I am not a lawyer (but) IC I see IGP I gotta pee IHA I hate acronyms IHU I hear you IIRC If I recall/remember/recollect correctly ILU or ILY I love you IM Immediate message IMCO In my considered opinion IMHO In my humble opinion IMing Chatting with someone online usually while doing other things such as playing trivia or other interactive game IMNSHO In my not so humble opinion IMO In my opinion IMS I am sorry IOW In other words IPN I'm posting naked IRL In real life (that is, when not chatting) ITIGBS I think I'm going to be sick IWALU I will always love you IYSWIM If you see what I mean J J4G Just for grins JBOD Just a bunch of disks (like redundant array of independent disks, etc.) JIC Just in case JK Just kidding JMO Just my opinion JTLYK Just to let you know K KISS Keep it simple stupid KIT Keep in touch KOTC Kiss on the cheek KOTL Kiss on the lips KWIM? Know what I mean? L L8R Later L8R G8R Later gator LD Later, dude LDR Long-distance relationship LHO Laughing head off LLTA Lots and lots of thunderous applause LMSO Laughing my socks off LOL Laughing out loud LRF Little Rubber Feet (the little pads on the bottom of displays and other equipment) LSHMBH Laughing so hard my belly hurts LTM Laugh to myself LTNS Long time no see LTR Long-term relationship LULAB Love you like a brother LULAS Love you like a sister LUWAMH Love you with all my heart LY Love ya LY4E Love ya forever M MorF Male or female MOSS Member of the same sex MOTOS Member of the opposite sex MTF More to follow MUSM Miss you so much N NADT Not a darn thing NIFOC Naked in front of computer NP or N/P No problem NRN No response necessary O OIC Oh, I see OLL Online love OMG Oh my God OTF Off the floor OTOH On the other hand OTTOMH Off the top of my head P PANS Pretty awesome new stuff (as opposed to "POTS") PAW Parents are watching PCMCIA People can't master computer industry acronyms PDA Public display of affection PEBCAK Problem exists between chair and keyboard PIBKAC Problem is between keyboard and chair PITA Pain in the *** PM Private message PMFJIB Pardon me for jumping in but... POAHF Put on a happy face POOF Goodbye (leaving the room) POTS Plain old telephone service PU That stinks! Q QT Cutie R RL Real life (that is, when not chatting) ROR Raffing out roud (Engrish for "laughing out loud") ROTFL Rolling on the floor laughing ROTFLMBO Rolling on the floor laughing my butt off RPG Role-playing games RSN Real soon now RT Real time RYO Roll your own (write your own program; derived from cigarettes rolled yourself with tobacco and paper) S S^ S'up - what's up S4L Spam for life (what you may get when you become someone's customer or client) SHCOON Shoot hot coffee out of nose SETE Smiling ear to ear SF Surfer-friendly (low-graphics Web site) SHID Slaps head in disgust SO Significant other SOL Smiling out loud or sh*t out of luck SOMY Sick of me yet? SOT Short on time SOTMG Short on time must go STW Search the Web SU Shut up SUAKM Shut up and kiss me SUP What's up SWAK Sealed with a kiss SWL Screaming with laughter SYS See you soon T TA Thanks again TAFN That's all for now TANSTAAFL There ain't no such thing as a free lunch TCOY Take care of yourself TFH Thread from hell (a discussion that just won't die and is often irrelevant to the purpose of the forum or group) TGIF Thank God it's Friday THX Thanks TIA Thanks in advance (used if you post a question and are expecting a helpful reply) TILII Tell it like it is TLA Three-letter acronym TLK2UL8R Talk to you later TMI Too much information TNT Till next time TOPCA Til our paths cross again (early Celtic chat term) TOY Thinking of you TPTB The powers that be TTFN Ta-Ta for now TTT Thought that, too (when someone types in what you were about to type) TTYL Talk to you later TU Thank you TY Thank you U UAPITA You're a pain in the *** UW You're welcome V VBG Very big grin W WAYD What are you doing WB Welcome back WBS Write back soon WDALYIC Who died and left you in charge? WEG Wicked evil grin WFM Works for me WIBNI Wouldn't it be nice if WT? What/who the ? WTG Way to go! WTGP? Want to go private? WU? What's up? WUF? Where are you from? WYSIWYG What you see is what you get Y YBS You'll be sorry YMMV Your mileage may vary. YW You're welcome
  13. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1063092--montreal-man-walks-around-the-world?bn=1
  14. Read more: http://sports.nationalpost.com/2010/09/10/with-leafs-its-never-too-early-to-brainwash/#ixzz0zBLVTio4
  15. J'ai eu l'honneur de passer le nouvel an à New-York ! Notre hôtel était à deux pas de l'aéroport Laguardia et à 5km à partir du bus Q72 de la station Junction Blvd de la ligne mauve, dont la dernière station en direction de Manhattan par un heureux hasard était Time Square / 42st ! Nous avons donc acheté une Metrocard pour 27$ , 7 jours illimité pour le métro et bus !... une aubaine À seulement 1h30 de vol de Montréal , la ville est trés acessible donc ! Voici les photos 1 à 40 de la partie 1/4. ----------------------------------------------------- 1) NY ! 2) Ready go. 3) À l'aéroport de Montréal. 4) Quelques vues au dessus de Montréal 5) 6) 7) 8) Dans les nuages... 9) 10) L'état de New-York ! 11) 12) Banlieue de NYC 13) Densité ! 14) Arrivée à Laguardia. 15) 16) Comme première visite, nous sommes montés au sommet du Rockefeller center au 67ième étage ! 17) Avec une vue superbe ! 18) 19) Moi sur le top of the rock. 20) 21) Jersey-City 22) Moi avec une vue incroyable derrière ! 23) NYC dans toute sa grandeur :miam: 24) Vers le nord et Central park. 25) Vers le Bronx 26) 27) Vers le Nord-Ouest 28) L'Empire state qui domine le ciel New-Yorkais ! 29) The Rock of the New-York city. 30) Petite place au pied du Rockefeller. 31) Le rock dans toute sa hauteur ! 32) 33) 34) 35) 36) Moi et le Rock. 37) Et pour finir la journée , une petite virée sur Time Square ! 38) 39) J'aime bien cette photo, allez savoir pourquoi ... 40) Et pour finir cette première partie : Moi sur Time Square ! -------------------------------------------------------- Merci d'avoir regardé ! ... et j'attend vos commentaires Franks.
  16. CIBC on St Jacques moved into Quebecor-Videotron and now RBC on St Jacques is planning on moving into the "Stock Exchange Tower" near Square Victoria in 2012. I am quite surprised to get a letter from RBC this morning saying they were moving. It was such a wonderful location. I guess the rent was getting to high for them. Seeing in the letter, they were only occupying about 20% of the building now. Interesting thing is about the RBC building, its owned and managed by a company that operates out of Halifax, but the head guy runs a business in New York called "Time Equities Inc". The company in Halifax is called "360 St Jacques Nova Scotia Inc" or something like that. Whats more interesting is, the head office is in a building called "Bank of Montreal Tower". One of the owners/members/chairs part of "360 St Jacques Nova Scotia" is Montreal's own George Coulombe that over sees 360 St Jacques (RBC building) here in Montreal. One thing that was interesting in the letter was that RBC actually sold the building back in the 60s. Anyways I just wonder who will take up the space at CIBC and RBC now.
  17. Its LIVE Took almost 6 months but its finally in Canada. Take that TomTom GPS unit. Navigation is awesome you can drive around and you get Street View at the same time. Check it out <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGXK4jKN_jY&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_us&feature=player_embedded&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGXK4jKN_jY&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_us&feature=player_embedded&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="640" height="385"></embed></object> One other thing. Google and Ford partnered up it seems so you can sync your Google Map info with your car Navigation system!
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. McGill takes 12th spot in global ranking ELIZABETH CHURCH From Thursday's Globe and Mail November 8, 2007 at 5:05 AM EST An international ranking of universities has put Montreal's McGill University in 12th spot, the highest rank to be reached by a Canadian institution. The annual rating, done by London-based Times Higher-QS World University Rankings, moved McGill up from its 21st placement last year. Ten other Canadian universities made the top 200 list, with the University of British Columbia finishing in the 33rd spot and the University of Toronto in the 45th. "This is such a source of pride for us. It shows that McGill is moving in the right direction," principal Heather Munroe-Blum said. The placement means McGill is now the top-ranked public university in North America, she said. It also demonstrates that the practice of concentrating resources on areas of excellence such as neuroscience, developmental biology and law is showing results, she added. "We have chosen our spots very carefully in areas where we can be leaders in the world." The rating, which was to be released this morning in London, comes at an important time for McGill as it looks to tap its network of alumni for a major fundraising campaign and is striving to increase its profile. Harvard University once again was placed at the top of the international ranking, which was conducted by an independent firm, sold off by the owners of the Times of London in 2005. Oxford, Cambridge and Yale all shared second place. The survey considers a number of factors in its rankings and gathers input from more than 5,000 academics around the world.
  21. The Montreal Botanical Gardens Has a Stunning Assortment of Plant Posted on May 26th, 2008. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting! by Peter Mason Montreal may be the ideal holiday spot for couples or families. Montreal tourism has grown considerably in over the last few decades. This city gives the visitor a distinctive experience throughout their stay. They will discover a great mix of tradition and enjoyment. Montreal’s tourism industry is certain to provide enchantment to young and old, family and couple, and man and woman. Some of the Attractions - Zoos, Museums and More The Fonderie Darling, a world-renowned art museum, is one of Montreal tourism’s wide assortment of interests which are characteristic to that city. The gallery assists young artists across Canada. For the laugh-seekers, there is the Just for Laughs Museum. This venue documents the lengthy history of national and international comedy. It is certain to be an entertaining time for the whole family. Montreal has countless exciting natural drawing cards such as the Biodome and the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The Biodome houses animals, plants, and greeted its first visitors in 1992. It can even alter the atmosphere to match a any geographical ecosystem. On the other hand, the Montreal Botanical Gardens gives a stunning assortment of 22,000 different plant species and varieties. This globally acclaimed garden is thought to be one of the finest on earth. The gardens offer both international and local plant life. Visit the Zoo Ecomuseum for young kids. The zoo exhibits countless species of animals. It is terrific for smaller children. A larger zoo is known as the Parc Safari, which is an appealing museum and home to more than 700 animals. Alongside the zoo, there is an amusement park and a beach. The Stewart Museum is a grand and appealing place for any history hound. This museum has an exceptional compilation of old maps, antique documents, old-fashioned weapons, navigational apparatus, and old scientific devices. This only describes the permanent exhibits; there are numerous part time displays that are certain to grab your interest. All these attractions show us that now in certain terms that Montreal’s tourism industry has matured and is worthy of world consideration. Places to Stay in Montreal There are a number of fabulous five-star hotels and many cozy bed and breakfasts in Montreal. Up scale tourism, a reason Montreal enjoys so many enchanting hotels. For the same reason the city and environs also benefits from exquisite B&Bs. One of the most admired four-star bed and breakfast is the Sir Montcalm. This high-end bed and breakfast makes available the lavishness of a four star hotel with all the charm of your own home. The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is an elegant five-star hotel that is definitely an unforgettable experience. An exclusive attribute of this hotel is that it joins the underground concourse level to the 30 km underground shopping center. These are only two of the numerous places to stay in Montreal. About the Author: Concentrating on informating about flights to alicante, Peter Mason wrote most often for http://www.alicante-spain.com . His articles on alicante flights can be found on his website . http://thebaron.us/2008/05/the-montreal-botanical-gardens-has-a-stunning-assortment-of-plant/