Thursday, April 18, 2013

Possum sighted, do I flee or investigate?

"Take us to Olman Feelyus, pion"
Those of you who know me well know that I have a long and complex history with the Possum empire.  I won't go into details now but let's just say that may or may not be the reason I moved north so many years ago.  All has been going well here and I've come to quite love my new life.

Then this news showed up today in my twitter feed.

Global warming?  Escaped illegal pet?  

I think not. 

Emissary or enemy agent, I am not sure which.  This is either a message being sent or a terrible blunder.  Highly unlikely that the Possum empire would send an agent that would allow himself to get caught.  Especially downtown like that.

So do I just pack up and flee (probably the smarter move) or do I head over to the Berger Blanc and see if I can effectuate a meeting with this critter?

Going to go see if the squirrels know anything.

"I WILL fuck your shit up!"

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Redneck Solution

I see the video below as a metaphor for the language issues in Canada.  The trailer is the "two solitudes" the gulf of communication and culture between two people who speak a different language.  The car represents the base culture that we all actually share (thriftiness, appreciation of semi-rural suburban living, desire to smash things in creative ways) but aren't aware of because of our different languages.  The drivers are the people like you and me who want to live in a culturally diverse Canada that respects all of its traditions.  Now watch what happens to the two solitudes when we finally get in the driver's seat:

Don't every change, people of the Regions.  I love the dude at the end going "CIBWAAAAAA!"

Saturday, April 06, 2013


This looks kind of fun.  CBC, under the auspices of Canada Writes, is doing a month-long project this April on neighbourhood change called Hyperlocal.  They are putting together, via their regular writers, guest-star bloggers  and a contest open to the public, a collection of map-connected blog posts on change in various neighbourhoods across Canada.  I'll be throwing a piece in, but still need to decide which of the many instances of change going on here, I should write about.  Our own Kate McDonnell, producer of the Montreal City Weblog (far and away the best source of Montreal news and discussion on said news in english) is one of the guest bloggers.  You can read her piece about an establishment in her Villeray neighbourhood here.

Friday, April 05, 2013

The Face of Fascism

The offending instagram post in question
The relationship between the police and society in Canada is an interesting one.  In many ways, we are seen as a progressive country in terms of liberty and the law.  In reality, there is a constant threat of minor fascism here in Canada.  I say "minor" because fascism gets thrown around a lot and often ends up either undermining an argument (by the overzealous progressive) or being used to undermine an argument (by the tactical conservative).  We inherit some of our laws around national security from Britain, most infamously the Official Secrets Act and in theory that makes us in some ways a less free country than the U.S.

There is also a long history of police services behaving far beyond the bounds or their legal role.  At the federal level, the RCMP is often up to privacy-invading shenanigans.  At the local level, there are many incidents of police abuse and murder (the victims often being First Nations people).  I won't go into them all here, but these incidents demonstrate how easily it is for authority in a society to abuse its power.

The recent change in strategy by the SPVM, the Montreal police force, against the student protests here in Montreal is a good example of this.  It's complicated, because there is also an annual anti-police brutality march here that always turns violent and the two groups, while distinct, are also intermingled.  During the height of the protests last year, Jean Charest's liberals (never a friend to freedom) passed Bill 78, which was a major attack on the right of freedom of expression and gave the cops all kinds of license to shut down any protest.  The PQ repealed it (think about that freaked out anglophone liberals), but within that bill was a municipal by-law (P-6) that gives the executive committee of Montreal (basically a gang of fucking criminals who should be pilloried for a month and then exiled to Labrador, and I'm really not exaggerating here) the power to refuse any protest or demonstration.  There is a bunch of other sneaky shit in there as well, that basically lets the police say yes or no to a protest. 

So P-6 is still in effect. Meanwhile, the PQ reversed the tuition hikes and then brought them back, though at a much more reasonable level.  This deflated a lot of the energy of the protests and the cops have clearly taken this as an excuse to amp up their repression.  They have been using "kettling", which was declared unconstitutional to round up protestors and then to take pictures of them and get all their info for future intelligence work.

All that is already pretty disturbing, but where their intel work "paid off" is even more disturbing.  Earlier this week, they arrested a 20-year old protest hipster chick for harrassment.  What had she done?  She had taken a picture of a piece of graffitti art (seen here) that showed the SPVM spokesperson with a bullet through his head and then disemminated it to the internet via instagram.  The law they used to arrest her with is the one that was designed to prevent stalking and to catch potentially violent criminals when they make threats.

The tactic of making the oppressor the victim has been around for decades.

There are three things here that push this move into the realm of fascism.  The first is, as mentioned above, the perversion of the law that was designed to protect an individual to use it to go after an individual who was critiquing a political body.  The second is that it's pretty obvious that they have got someone going through their database and then tracking down individuals online and looking for reasons to go after them.  Finally, the real nasty technique here is the co-opting of the victim status.  This is a classic neo-con and corporate bullying technique.  It serves many purposes. One of the bigger ones is to elicit sympathy from centrist citizens.  In this case, I suspect, it will blow up in their faces.  As we've seen time and time again, if there is one thing that the people are generally united on it is their right to use the internet freely.  There is already a backlash online against this move and I suspect we will see the SPVM back off.  Though you never know.  Organizations like these do tend to "double-down on stupid" so they may amp up this strategy.  We will be watching.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Awaken from winter slumber, blog!

Arise gentle mountain.

I've been neglecting Briques du Neige the last year or so.  I have many excuses and explanations.  The big concrete one is that my wife gave birth in October and the child's fierce intelligence and cutting wit suggest that I am indeed the father.  So that's been keeping me busy.  The vaguer explanation for the lack of prooduction here is perhaps more interesting.  It's taken me a while to wrestle with it.  It's not really laziness or lack of motivation. It's just that nothing seems special enough any more to merit a blog post (meta aside: is anything ever?  Probably not, so point taken and let's just move on).  I think what is happening is that after nine years, I have integrated into my life here in Montreal to the point where I have lost that outsider, observer perspective.  I am living my life and everything just seems normal.  When people from outside Montreal ask me about the corruption scandal going on, I am a bit surprised that they don't already know everything about it.  I mean isn't everybody following Monique Muise's awesome twitter feed?  The snow is melting and Clark street was not a total garbage fest for once, but that's just spring time and I might as well be talking about the weather. I still don't feel like I am truly from here, but I have never felt like I am truly from anywhere in my life.  I think for me this is about as "home" as it gets, when I don't feel like blogging about my city anymore.

That being said, there still is a lot going on here.  The gradual evolution of Mile End towards true, awful gentrification marches on relentlessly.  The cops in Montreal are demonstrating a culture of fascism and oppression that is rivalling the RCMP.  The Charbonneau commission is on fucking fire.  And finally, finally, wonderful springtime is here (or was for a couple days, then got skittish and backed off, but now appears to be well and truly here).

So with the buds and the dogshit and the birds living in the power line housing outside our apartment, this blog will also finally poke its head out from the cold and the snow.

Briques du Neige has been pretty focused on Montreal life, culture and politics, with a few diversions here and there.  I am going to widen the scope going forward, for the reasons stated above, and hope to share a broader range of my spazzy ramblings and inane observations.  There is a much greater potential for angry rants, so be warned.

Re-organize your bookmarks, put me back in your blogroll, release the paparazzi.  Briques du Neige is back motherfuckers!