Quotulatiousness

April 15, 2014

“You want to go into politics to fix public finances and put things in order? Fine. But to pump your fist and say you want a country? Tabarnac

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:30

In Maclean’s, Martin Patriquin reflects on the disaster for the separatist cause that was the Quebec election:

Sovereignty isn’t dead. It is impossible, sovereignists themselves often say, to kill a dream shared by a rock-ribbed 30 per cent of the population. Rather, Quebec’s sovereignty movement goes through fits and starts, peaks and valleys, a sleeping giant that can wake up and roar at a moment’s notice.

[...]

In this respect, the mortal enemy of the sovereignty movement isn’t the Liberal Party of Quebec, the Trudeau family, the federal government, Quebec’s immigrant population or any of the other central casting nightmares conjured up by the sovereignist movement over the years. No, the real enemy is the march of time.

As such, the sovereignty movement was pushed that much closer to obsolescence with the recent election. This Liberal win, like all Liberal wins past, means no serious talk of referendum, sovereignty or separation for four years at least. Decimated and leaderless, the PQ ranks will likely have to suffer through a wrenching leadership campaign before turning its sights on Philippe Couillard’s Liberals. PQ strategists will have to explain the party’s rudderless, error-prone election campaign that tanked its relative popularity in the space of a month. In the longer term, the PQ MNAs will have to answer for the party’s so-called Quebec values charter, which many feel targeted Quebec’s religious minorities­—and in all likelihood hurt the party’s chances of moving beyond its white, francophone base. All of this will take time, which isn’t on the PQ’s side.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Buoyed by a jump in the polls and a listless showing by Liberal Leader Couillard, Marois confidently called an election on March 5 with every expectation of getting a majority government. Instead, she (and the province) got a quick and nasty campaign dominated by referendum chatter and the short-term economic tremors it inevitably causes. The mere mention of an election last fall caused Montreal’s real estate market to dip.

Without a doubt, the turning point in the campaign was the press conference to introduce superstar PQ candidate Pierre Karl Péladeau:

The smart political strategist would do the following: put Péladeau on a stage and make him talk strictly about how he transformed Videotron from a Podunk cable company beset by labour troubles into the province’s leading cable and wireless concern. In the vacuum of a month-long election campaign, Péladeau the businessman could easily hide the red-ink-stained legacy of the PQ’s 18 months in power.

Instead, we got Péladeau the Quebec separatist. On a chilly Monday morning three days into the campaign, Péladeau took the stage with Pauline Marois and, after a 13-minute speech vaunting his economic record and the beauty of his riding of St-Jérôme, he uttered 30 words that would overshadow his campaign and that of his newly adopted party. “Finally, I end by telling you that my membership in the Parti Québécois is in line with my most profound and intimate values,” he said in French. “That is to say, make Quebec a country!”

[...]

In the immediate aftermath of Péladeau’s declaration, Marois mused that citizens of a separate Quebec would have their own Quebec passport; people and goods would flow freely over the open and undefended borders with Canada. Quebec would use the Canadian dollar, and lobby for a seat with the Bank of Canada. Her strategists quietly put an end to Marois’s flights of fancy within 48 hours, but the damage was already done. And it was irreversible.

In Quebec City, Péladeau’s candidacy should have hearkened a return of the PQ in what has been a bastion for the right-of-centre Action Démocratique du Quebec party and its successor, the CAQ, led by former PQ minister François Legault. Yet Péladeau seemingly did himself in with those 30 words in this surprisingly conservative and federalist region and beyond. “I’m so disappointed in the guy it’s ridiculous,” says Mario Roy, an insurance broker and sometimes radio DJ, who in 2010 worked on a campaign with Péladeau to bring an NHL team to Quebec City. “You want to go into politics to fix public finances and put things in order? Fine. But to pump your fist and say you want a country? Tabarnac.”

April 8, 2014

“It’s important to understand the scale of the calamity that has befallen the Parti Québécois”

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:02

Paul Wells on the electoral catastrophe for the PQ in yesterday’s provincial election:

Its share of the popular vote, as I write this, is solidly below the 28% the party won in 2007 when André Boisclair was its leader. This is, in fact, the PQ’s worst election result, in share of popular vote, in 44 years. The only time it ever did worse was in 1970, the first campaign the party ever fought.

Philippe Couillard did not have a flawless campaign but he has a full majority term to get the hang of premiering. And Quebec usually re-elects incumbent governments once. In fact, Pauline Marois becomes the first Quebec premier to fail to be re-elected since the 1920s.

But these are garden-variety problems. The PQ’s woes go much deeper still. It is now 15 years since the party won more than 40% of the popular vote; the Liberals did so in 2008 and again tonight. This is because the PQ sits on a policy it cannot sell: secession from Canada. But now it has added a second unsellable policy to its kit bag: a plan to fire librarians and emergency-room physicians if it is possible to tell by looking at them which religious faith they practice.

[...]

On all three policies — secession, coercive state atheism, and university tuition — the PQ is stuck between an electorate that doesn’t agree, and a party base that will not retreat. Compounding the near-guarantee of further PQ grief still further is its insufferable belief in its own infallible mind meld with the Québécois collective conscience. The PQ knows better than anyone on sovereignty, secularism and higher education. Or so its members tell themselves. So it will not abandon policies the broader Quebec population, including much of the francophone majority, finds risible.

The PQ is in clear danger of becoming Quebec’s Tea Party: a fringe movement in thrall to esoteric mail-order theorists and proud of it, ensuring continued defeat and resistant to any attempts to fix it. I won’t be predicting the death of separatism; that’s a cliché. But I do predict an extended purgatory for a PQ that will wonder, for a very long time to come, why everyone points and giggles when its leaders proclaim the things they believe most profoundly.

I’m not sure the Tea Party Wells refers to exists in any form other than media stereotype (although there are lots of individual Tea Party activists who fit the bill), but the rest of the piece strikes me as being pretty accurate.

March 24, 2014

Paul Wells’ Twitter summary of the last 48 hours in Quebec politics

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:19

March 17, 2014

On the election trail, the PQ would rather not talk secession right now

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:27

In Maclean’s, Paul Wells explains why Pauline Marois would prefer that the separatist part of the Parti Québécois platform just be background information:

The salvation of Quebec’s sovereignty movement has always been the reluctance of many voters and, indeed, of most political journalists to read and remember. Did you know that Jean-François Lisée, the Marois government’s minister for relations with anglophones, expects as many as 300,000 Quebecers to flee the province after a Yes vote in a referendum? Probably not. I’ve never seen anyone quote Lisée about the likelihood of a major post-referendum exodus. Yet he wrote it up in a book he published 14 years ago, and on the off chance anyone forgot to buy the book, he posted an excerpt on his blog, where it remains to this day. Lisée cites estimates between 150,000 and 300,000 departures after a Yes vote, before adding that even though it would mostly only be anglophones, it’d still hurt:

    There is no doubt this exodus would be all kinds of trouble for Quebec. The anglophone community contributes to Montreal’s and Quebec’s economic success, to its progress toward a knowledge economy … and powerfully contributes to connecting us with anglophone America, our main client and partner. The departure of 100,000 or 200,000 of them would stop Montreal’s economic recovery in its tracks and aggravate Quebec’s demographic decline …

Funny how he forgot to mention any of that during the 1995 secession referendum.

Lisée goes on to suggest means that might “reduce” this exsanguination from the Quebec economy, and I’ll leave it to readers to consider whether any of them constitutes more than wishful thinking. I’ll note only that he sees in promises of protection for Quebec’s anglophone minority “an important negotiating tool at the Quebec-Canada table” during post-referendum secession negotiations. I’m afraid this escapes me. “In return for allowing us to treat our anglophone minority well, you must … allow us to treat our anglophone minority well … or it will … uh … leave and become part of your workforce.” Then they’ll really have Ottawa over a barrel.

[...]

Anyway, I belabour all of this precisely to point out why Pauline Marois looks a little spooked these days whenever somebody asks her about her party’s raison d’être on the campaign trail. Negotiating, not with some vague angelic notion of reasonable Ontarians, but with Danielle Smith and Terry Glavin over the terms of deconfederation, in an attempt to stem a stampede of highly educated Quebecers that would, in Jean-François Lisée’s picturesque description, “stop Montreal’s economic recovery in its tracks,” is not super-high on most Quebecers’ to-do list for Q4 2014. How many Quebecers want to hear less campaign talk about sovereignty? Seven in 10, says today’s Léger poll [PDF]. One of my favourite rules of thumb holds that a party led by a veteran campaigner should have an advantage over a party with a rookie leader, but that’s predicated on the notion that experienced leaders are reassuring. A promise of nonstop secession headache eliminates Marois’s incumbent advantage. She could, of course, promise not to hold a referendum if elected. But that would tear her party apart. I almost feel sorry for her. Just kidding.

March 12, 2014

Quebec federalist leader calls for more concessions to Quebec (of course)

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:55

It’s apparently come to the attention of even soi disant federalists in Quebec that the rest of Canada is still taking advantage of Quebec and that concessions will be needed to begin to make amends for all our exploitation of that downtrodden province:

The leader of federalist forces in the Quebec election says Canadians from coast to coast should be prepared to make concessions to the province if there is any hope dealing once and for all with the recurring threats to national unity.

With an ascendant Parti Québécois seeking re-election and speaking bullishly about a new push for independence, angst outside of the province’s borders is noticeably higher in this election than in previous campaigns since the failed 1995 referendum on sovereignty.

The surprise candidacy for the PQ of multi-millionaire media titan Pierre Karl Péladeau, majority shareholder of Quebecor and the Sun newspaper chain, has only ratcheted up that tension, a rare across-the-board endorsement in an open letter signed by leading sovereigntists, including former PQ leaders Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry as well as ex-Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe.

[...]

Couillard raised the spectre of a new push for a constitutional amendment that would recognized Quebec as a “distinct” society in Canada. This after two failed attempts at Meech Lake in 1987 and Charlottetown in 1992 and the refusal of former PQ premier René Levesque to sign the repatriated Canadian Constitution in 1982.

The federal government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused the idea of re-opening the Constitution to introduce an elected Senate or to set term limits for Senators. The federal Conservative leader has said repeatedly there is no willingness in the country for another heart-wrenching round of talks that, if they fail, could breathe new life into the grievances of those who want an independent Quebec.

Harper contented himself with passing a 2006 motion in the House of Commons that recognized “the Quebecois as a nation within a united Canada,” but it carries no specific obligations or responsibilities of Ottawa and affords no new powers to the province.

Update:

March 5, 2014

Interesting times in Quebec

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:05

Paul Wells points out some interesting facts about the political situation in Quebec and sums it up as “and then a referendum ate them all”:

2. In 2007 the PQ ran on a relatively mild version of its traditional calling card, nationalism, and a now-vanished party, the ADQ, ran on what might politely be termed populist nativism. Together they held Jean Charest’s Liberals to a minority, but if a single party could combine nationalism and nativism, it might box the Liberals in more completely than two could. That’s the calculation Jean-François Lisée made, and first as Marois’s counsellor and then as a rookie MNA and senior cabinet minister, he has encouraged the PQ’s transformation into a party with much of the appeal those two parties had in 2007. The rest of Quebec politics, and especially, the Liberals, have had 8 years to prepare for the play the Marois-Lisée PQ is making, without much success. All elections are unpredictable and Quebec has been surprising in many ways lately, but I’d bet a loonie (though not a penny more) that the PQ wins a majority.

[...]

4. Will she hold a secession referendum? If I were Lisée, I would tell her this: PQ premiers who didn’t hold referendums are not remembered fondly today. Pierre Marc Johnson, Bouchard, Landry. The two who did are heroes of the movement, even though they lost: René Lévesque and Parizeau. To which group would Marois rather belong?

5. In a referendum, political Canada would be represented by a No committee leader, Couillard, who would have just lost an election; a federal prime minister, Stephen Harper, whose party is far less popular in Quebec than Jean Chrétien’s Liberals ever were; and by a reasonably impressive B team (Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau) whose members cannot conceivably work effectively with one another.

Update: David Akin says “That’s some franco/non-franco split on the referendum question:”

Quebec opinion poll March 2014

February 27, 2014

OQLF now monitoring social media for language

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:32

No, not coarse language … the English language:

The agency in charge of enforcing the primacy of the French language in Quebec apparently has a new target — social media.

Eva Cooper, the owner of a small retail boutique in Chelsea, Que., has been notified by the language agency that if she doesn’t translate the shop’s Facebook page into French, she will face an injunction that will carry consequences such as a fine.

“Ultimately, to me, Facebook has nothing to do with Quebec,” said Cooper, who uses the social media site to inform customers of new products in her boutique north of Ottawa. The shop — Delilah in the Parc — has an all-bilingual staff of fewer than 10 people.

“I’m happy to mix it up, but I’m not going to do every post half in French, half in English. I think that that defeats the whole purpose of Facebook,” said Cooper, who has requested the agency send her their demands in English.

Cooper’s case represents a new frontier for the language agency, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). The agency says probes of social media complaints, which started only recently, are “not frequent.”

February 25, 2014

Next on Quebec’s language hit-list – getting rid of “Bonjour-Hi”

Filed under: Cancon, Law — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:48

The Anglos in Quebec will be facing tougher language laws if (when) the Parti Québécois wins a majority in the next provincial election:

Speaking to business leaders, Diane De Courcy vowed to halt Quebec’s “unacceptable slide” into institutional bilingualism — in Montreal and across the province.

A PQ majority government would make it a priority to bring back Bill 14 and to stamp out examples of creeping bilingualism like sales staff who greet customers with “Bonjour-Hi,” she said at a day-long conference on francization programs held by the Conseil du patronat.

“Montreal is not a bilingual city. Quebec is not a bilingual Quebec,” De Courcy said to reporters after her speech.

Last year, the government decided not to push for adoption of Bill 14, strengthening Quebec’s French Language Charter, because of a lack of support from opposition parties. The wide-ranging bill would extend Bill 101 rules for large businesses to smaller companies with between 25 and 50 employees, and toughen up aspects of the language law on access to English education and bilingual municipalities.

[...]

Employees who deal with the public must be able to address customers correctly in French, “not like what we have right now in downtown Montreal, and not only in Montreal, which is ‘Bonjour-Hi,’” De Courcy said.

De Courcy said she thinks it’s great if individuals want to learn different languages like English, Spanish, Mandarin or Arabic in their private lives, but institutions and businesses must function strictly in French.

“There is a difference with what is institutional and it must be without mercy,” she said.

February 11, 2014

Quebec’s anti-capitalist heritage

Filed under: Business, Cancon, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 13:15

At The Gods of the Copybook Headings, Richard Anderson looks at the problem Quebec has with entrepreneurial and capitalist tendencies:

The hatred of capitalism in the “Quebec Dark Ages” had little to do with Anglo economic dominance. That most quintessential of Canadian capitalist icons, the coureur de bois, was a black marketer who flouted the authority of the colonial government and the sanctioned merchant class. Official French society, on both sides of the Atlantic, has always despised businessmen, except for those rent seekers who paid homage to the powers that be. In New France these licensed traders were known as voyageurs.

This is a never resolved tension in Quebecois society, between the pure entrepreneur represented by the coureur de bois and the official capitalist represented by the voyageur. There has been no shortage in modern economic history of talented Quebecois entrepreneurs, but their efforts are widely regarded as being some how suspicious. There is something slightly unwholesome about turning a profit and speaking French at the same time.

This is not unique to French society. In most Catholic, or post-Catholic countries this suspicion of capitalism and free markets is endemic. To their credit the French-Canadians, unlike the Portuguese, never burnt businessmen at the stake for displaying “Jewish tendencies.” It was only in some of the Protestant societies that capitalism became somewhat respectable. My own suspicion is that this had less to do with theology and more to do with social dynamics.

January 24, 2014

The “charter of Quebec values” is starting to look like an election winner for Marois

Filed under: Cancon, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:22

Paul Wells initially dismissed the proposed charter of Quebec values as unlikely to appeal to the majority of Quebec voters. He now admits that he may have been wrong, as the minority PQ government has been gaining support since introducing the charter proposal and if the trend continues, we might expect to see Premier Pauline Marois a snap election. He attributes this to a few key elements in Quebec politics and culture:

A secular imperative. I have friends who disagree with the PQ on just about everything — but who applaud the notion that it should be impossible to tell a person’s religion by looking at him or her. These people tend to be atheists who view religion as inevitably backward and retrograde. They tend to keep books by Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins on the nightstand. They’d sooner everyone got over religion altogether. In the meantime they don’t want to have to look at evidence of religion.

[...]

The suggestive power of government. Canadians, including Quebecers, tend to trust and listen to their governments. Governments can lead opinion, and often do. I know all this sounds crazy. And the people least likely to notice the willingness of the public to be led are those who consider themselves full-time opponents of any given party in power. But it’s one reason why highly ideological politicians seek power: not for its own sake, but because it gives leaders the hope of being followed.

Islamic fundamentalism. Does anybody believe the PQ would be on this — what’s the word? — this crusade today, if 9/11 had never happened? Is anyone surprised that so many witnesses at public consultations on the PQ charter focus exclusively on Islam that government officials are left pleading with witnesses to mention other religions at least once in a while?

[...]

The moral collapse of the Quebec Liberal Party. These days you can’t find the Liberals’ new leader, Philippe Couillard, with a dog and a flashlight. I wish this were more of a surprise. The notion that diversity is a strength and that there are different ways of being Québécois is on trial. That notion has animated the Quebec Liberal Party, on its better days, for more than a century. But the Liberals decided 40 years ago that there’s room for only one party with any convictions in Quebec, and that’s the PQ. Couillard represents the third consecutive case — after Daniel Johnson and Jean Charest — where the party chose the most viscerally federalist leadership candidate on offer, then surrounded him with advisers who systematically advise him not to say what he believes. The results are predictable. The PQ sets the debate’s terms, the Liberals hide under the coffee table.

December 17, 2013

The purity of Quebec’s linguistic environment must be protected at all costs!

Filed under: Cancon, Law — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:29

How dare these linguistic wreckers think they can subvert the official language laws by speaking another language to each other?

Two Montreal hospital workers of Haitian origin who sometimes speak to each other in Creole — and not exclusively in French — have raised the ire of the Office québécois de la langue française.

On Dec. 3, the OQLF warned the Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies, an 88-bed psychiatric facility, to take action after an employee of the hospital complained to the French-language watchdog about the two workers.

The hospital was given until Dec. 20 to respond or face an investigation by an OQLF inspector and a fine of as much as $20,000. The two employees in question do speak French, and there appears to be no evidence that they refused to speak to patients or co-workers in French. But on occasion, they engaged in private conversations in Creole while on lunch or during some shifts in the presence of colleagues and patients.

On Dec. 10, the east-end hospital held a meeting of all the employees in the department where the two Creole-speaking workers are assigned, and reminded everyone that French is the official language of the workplace in Quebec, not Creole.

[...]

The Charter of the French Language, adopted in 1977, states that French is the sole official language of Quebec. What’s more, the charter enshrines the right of every Quebecer to be served in French, and that “workers have a right to carry on their activities in French.”

However, the law does not prohibit workers in the public sector from engaging in a private conversation other than French while on the job.

Even if a conversation between two public-sector employees “is related to work,” they can still speak in another language as long as their exchange does not involve colleagues who don’t understand what they’re saying, Le Blanc explained.

Gagnon, who is also the hospital’s liaison with the OQLF, said the government agency did not provide her with the precise circumstances of the complaint.

“We’re in a very difficult position,” she added. “It’s a very particular situation, because we don’t know the name of the person who made the complaint, we don’t know the circumstances, we don’t know the moment that the employees spoke to each other in Creole, but we have an obligation to act because we received a (letter) from the Office.

September 12, 2013

Stirring up opposition to the Charter of Quebec Values

Filed under: Cancon, History, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:23

In Maclean’s, Paul Wells gives a bit of sovereigntist history and brings us up to date on the proposed Charter of Quebec Values:

When Bernard Drainville, another minister in today’s post-cosmopolitain PQ government, released the text of his proposed Charter of Values — complete with handy wall charts showing the articles of clothing (Veil! Kippah!) that will heretofore be banished from public servants’ bodies while at work — he had the handy effect of smoking out two federal party leaders who have been equivocal until now. The Liberal, Justin Trudeau, has opposed the charter since the PQ started putting up trial balloons nearly a month ago. The New Democrat, Thomas Mulcair, has most of his seats in Quebec, and had resisted comment until now. So, mostly, had the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, although he did tip his hand when asked about the PQ plan in Toronto: “Our job is making all groups who come to this country, whatever their background, whatever their race, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their religion, feel home in this country and be Canadians. That’s our job.”

On Tuesday the trial balloons became official government policy. The NDP and Conservatives came out unequivocally against the PQ. Speaking for the government, Jason Kenney suggested a possible federal court challenge.

This, too, happens to be one of the tactical tricks Jean-François Lisée cooked up during the long years before he entered electoral politics. In his 2000 book Sorti de secours, Lisée suggested the PQ cook up some scheme that would be rejected by the rest of the country, so Quebecers would feel insulted and want to secede.

Such a plan would depend for its success on a clear distinction between Quebec public opinion and the actions of national parties. So far it’s not going well for the PQ. Mulcair and Trudeau are Quebecers whose parties hold 66 of the province’s 75 seats. The Bloc Québécois did not hurry to embrace Marois’s scheme. Every Montreal mayoral candidate opposes it, as does the Quebec Federation of Women.

The inspiration for the PQ’s decision to retrench is purely electoralist. It is a reaction to 30 years of failed efforts to make the sovereignty movement every Quebecer’s fight. Forced generosity having failed the PQ, the party is falling back on cynicism and pettiness. It’s make-or-break for the entire sovereignty movement, and I’m pretty sure Marois, Lisée and Drainville just broke it.

September 4, 2013

QotD: Quebec and religious minorities

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Liberty, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

As this blog has pointing out for many years now, too many for these tired old eyes, at its core Quebec nationalism is an ethnic nationalism. By their nature ethnic nationalists are bigots. Certainly the sort of bigotry that emanates from the pure laine wing of the PQ is fairly tame. This is Canada and even our fanatics have a dullness about them. Still bigotry is bigotry. Tyranny is tyranny. Telling people what they can wear in the workplace, regardless of any objective public health and safety concerns, is tyranny. A private employer may discriminate at his leisure. The government cannot. It must represent all its people.

Our tax dollars, for Quebec is the great mendicant of modern Canada, are financing a policy of religious bigotry. Some conservatives might welcome this decision as it seems, on the face of it, to be going after the burqa. The ban, however, is on all religious headware. At the moment it applies only to the public sector, which is vast in Quebec, but knowing the statist inclinations of the PQ it will soon apply to the private sector as well.

To borrow from Churchill, this is worse than a crime, it’s a mistake.

Quebec is not an appealing place for ethnic and religious minorities. It’s why so many flee to Ontario when they receive their citizenship papers. Expect a second Exodus from La Belle Province should this Charter of Quebec Values come into force. Just as talented Anglos were driven from Montreal and the Eastern Townships in the 1970s, we’ll soon have waves of Sikhs arriving in Toronto. I will be delighted to greet them. There is a large community here in the Imperial Capital and they are peaceful and productive. If Quebec wants to put their bigotry ahead of economic common sense, let them. Then let us cut the equalization life line that has propped up these statist and bigoted policies for over forty years. First they discriminated against the English. Then the Jews. Now the time comes for all the others who are not of the blood.

Richard Anderson, “Quebec Values”, The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 2013-09-02

August 8, 2013

The dismal economics of professional hockey in Arizona

Filed under: Economics, Sports, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:15

I don’t follow hockey at all, so I had to be reminded that there already was an NHL team in Phoenix. The fact that the team is bleeding money all over is not a surprise — that they’re determined to stay in Arizona and continue losing lots of money? That’s just dumb:

As you probably know by now, the Phoenix Coyotes are staying in Glendale, but they’ll be changing their name to the Arizona Coyotes to reflect the fact they aren’t in Phoenix.

Now anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that this is a venture that is almost certain to fail, given how much money the team has lost over the years, the bankruptcy process, attendance, etc. This is all made worse by the fact there are several viable markets itching to get a team (Quebec City and Southern Ontario spring to mind).

If you’re a Coyotes fan, you might be thinking, “what does this clown know? He’s just some idiot with a blog. Hey, he was probably a diehard Jets supporter and watched, ashen-faced, as his team played its last game on his 15th birthday before leaving for the desert bwahahahahaha.” To which I would respond, “hey, are you a stalker or something?”

Okay, so I’m not a fancy economist or anything and perhaps I’ll never let the departure of the original Jets go.

The guy who wrote the following IS an fancy economist though, and his opinion, which was submitted as part of legal wrangling between the league and former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes over ex-RIM CEO Jim Balsillie’s brazen attempt to acquire the team without the NHL’s consent, is pretty clear. Leaving the Coyotes to founder Glendale is a terrible move on many levels.

H/T to Colby Cosh for the link.

July 20, 2013

Investigators still don’t know what caused the explosion in Lac-Mégantic derailment

Filed under: Cancon, Environment, Railways — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

In the Globe and Mail, Jacquie McNish and Grant Robertson report on the ongoing investigations into the causes of the fatal explosion:

Federal officials probing the Lac-Mégantic disaster are testing the chemical composition of crude oil carried by the runaway train as they seek to answer the crucial question of what triggered the unusual and devastating explosion after the derailment.

[...]

Edward Burkhardt, chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc., which operated the derailed train, said Canadian authorities have impounded the rail cars to take “a huge number of samples of oil.” He said the investigators and officials in the rail and oil industries “are asking how come there were explosions here. Crude does not blow up.”

People familiar with the investigation said the TSB is examining the composition of the oil that fuelled the explosion.

Industry sources said there are several possibilities. One is whether the crude, which came from the Bakken oil region of North Dakota, contained volatile chemicals. A possible scenario is that additives were intentionally combined with the crude oil to speed up the transfer of the syrupy oil, common for pipelines but rare in the rail industry. Another possibility is that the tanker cars had chemical contaminants from a previous shipment. Another question is whether the oil contained high levels of flammable hydrogen sulphide gas, which is sometimes present in Bakken oil.

[...]

Regulators in the United States say rail carriers are responsible for knowing what they are carrying, and that the shipper and the railway company are required to work out such details when the train is being loaded.

“The carriers have to know exactly what it is that they’re hauling at all times,” said Warren Flateau, a spokesman for the Federal Railway Association in Washington.

Mr. Burkhardt said MM&A received a detailed bill of lading from the U.S. oil services company, which he declined to identify, and no chemicals were identified as being present in the crude. The intermediary oil services company leased the rail cars, loaded them with oil and then contracted three separate railway companies to transport them.

The first carrier was Canadian Pacific Railway, which handed over the train to MM&A in Montreal. From there, MM&A was to deliver the oil cars to a small rail company in New Brunswick owned by the Irving family.

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