Saturday, May 19, 2012

Montreal Turning 370-------How's it Doing ?

Jeanne Mance was born in France in 1606. Having heard that a colony was planned on the island of Montreal, she told Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve that she wished to go with him and helped with the preparations for the trip. They arrived in Montréal (Ville-Marie) on May 17, 1642 after spending many months in Québec. 

They were accompanied by some forty people, settlers, workers and soldiers. Jeanne Mance was responsible for treating the sick and she founded the Hôtel-Dieu, Montreal's first hospital, in 1643. She died in that city in 1673. 

....and Here is today's online Montreal Gazette story:May19th,2012

What would Jeanne Mance say?

Being a fine nurse and a devout lady, she would keep the câlisses and tabarnacs to herself.

Still, Montreal’s newest founder would be astounded – and oui, maybe just a little horrified – as this strange modern-day settlement she knew as Ville Marie begins its 370th birthday festivities.

Let’s see. The mayor’s former right-hand man, Frank Zampino, has just been taken away, in hoodie and handcuffs, one of nine people facing charges of fraud, conspiracy and breach of trust. Among those arrested is Bernard Trépanier, 74, once dubbed “Monsieur Trois Pour Cent” for the cut he is alleged to have collected from potential suppliers on behalf of the ruling municipal party.

Hearings into corruption in the Quebec construction industry begin next week. It’s expected mayor Gérald Tremblay will be called as a witness.

Taxpayers are hoping the inquiry will shed light on where all our money goes. Because it certainly hasn’t been spent maintaining roads, bridges and overpasses, most of which are in various degrees of falling down.

Meanwhile, the Quebec government has suspended the semester at 14 CEGEPs and 11 university faculties. On Friday, after a marathon session, it adopted legislation to end the strike that has paralyzed campuses for nearly 100 days. With stiff penalties and constraints on public gatherings, Bill 78 has already raised questions from the Quebec bar on grounds it infringes on such fundamental principles as freedom of expression and right to assembly.

Throughout this Printemps Érable, young people have been marching day and night, with or without clothes, honking horns, chanting slogans and waving red squares in the quest for lower tuition fees. As a nurse working in rugged colonial conditions, Jeanne Mance would not be squeamish about bare flesh. But she might ask about stickers on the naked nipples – isn’t that painful?

A raucous minority of protesters has gone farther, flouting the law, breaking windows and hurling smoke bombs within the confines of the métro tunnels. In doing so, they have fostered fear, havoc and anger.

City council has drafted a bylaw banning protesters from wearing masks. Helicopters hover overhead, sirens roar and the presence of police on foot, horseback, bicycles and in cruisers feeds a mood of calamity and mistrust. With the Grand Prix and festival season now upon us, there’s a sense of doom that worse may be yet to come.

In short, Jeanne Mance would not be wrong in thinking she had travelled in time to a place that had lost its bearings, a city on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.

What, she might well ask, has happened to that bold pioneering spirit, emboldened, admittedly, by the missionary’s desire to save souls and the fur trader’s lust for pelts.

Our leadership is, at best, ineffectual and self-serving. At worst, we dare not say – the best we can hope for is that it hasn’t really come down to which palms get greased and who gets to ride on the big man’s yacht.

A colleague who grew up in Jamaica spoke recently of our “culture of plenty” here in Quebec. Even those students who feel so terribly oppressed by the proposed tuition fee hikes live in a place where education is valued and accessible.

Would they be willing to go to the wall, maybe even get arrested, in the name of a cause which didn’t touch their wallets so directly? Say, human rights abuses or gun control or climate change or better living conditions for aboriginal peoples, the elderly, the homeless or mentally ill?

If student groups have been incalcitrant and self-absorbed – and they have – our politicians have failed in their duty to find practical solutions and just remedies.

And yet, catapulted into the future, Jeanne Mance would surely also find much to marvel at in this world, where messages float through the air and no one has scurvy.

The colony she founded with de Maisonneuve is the vibrant, chaotic jumble of languages, cultures and political ideologies, a dynamic, if sometimes infuriatingly interesting, metropolis.

This spring awakening has been rough on everyone, from students on both sides of the barricades to commuters just trying to get to work. When Line Beauchamp stepped down as education minister this week, she used the word “electro-shock.” That sounds about right.

But as Jeanne Mance could tell you, Montreal has weathered bad times before, beginning with plague, pestilence and the great flood of 1642.

Over 370 years, we have built this city on a tolerance of differences, on civility and, on really good days, even kindness. Most of the time, we find a way to share the road, the bike path and the grocery aisle.

Challenging authority, asking questions, being different are as much a part of who we are as the Fête nationale, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Black and Blue and Halloween zombies in Old Montreal.

Violence, intimidation, vandalism and corruption must not be.

We were due for a good jolt.

.........Yes I guess this fantastic City could use a cleansing of sorts,(mostly the blind eye politicians ,that prefer being 'on the take' instead of returning Montreal to the Great City We all remember.(jmho)

Cheers ! Have Fun & Remember Verdun     pssst: Happy Birthday Montreal

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