The Electric Pencil

Posts Tagged ‘Montreal

From Manila to Palestine

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Campaign signs for the 2007 mid-term elections fly amidst improvised electricity wires in Tondo, Manila.

Campaign signs for the 2007 mid-term elections fly amidst improvised electricity wires in Tondo, Manila.

I have to be honest and say that while I have been aware for several years now of the situation facing Philipino immigrants to Canada – particularly those who come to work as migrant workers – I maintain very little knowledge of the history or current political situation in the Philippines itself.

That all changed a little when I had a chance to see a new exhibit at Sablo Kafé, On Movements in Manila, put on by Stefan Christoff (full disclosure: he’s a friend and colleague on several projects). Christoff visited the Philippines in 2007 as a journalist and election observer. The photos he took in and around the capital explore both the intense levels of poverty, but also the community organising and push-back that has developed. The exhibit is timed with a call from the Centre for Philippine Concerns in Montreal (which is co-sponsoring the exhibit) and the International Philippine Election Oberservation Team 2010 call for volunteers to help observe the upcoming 2010 presidential elections. The need for outside observers are clear. There are a large number of reports of military intimidation during the last election, which some believe will only increase this time around. Christoff wrote a two part series on the topic upon his return in 2007 as well. There are also reports of up to 1000 political killings of progressives and leftists in the country since 2001.

The exhibit runs at Sablo (50, St-Zotique East, corner Boul. St-Laurent) until the end of September, and while small is definitely worth seeing; while Christoff is more of a hobbyist photographer, the images in this exhibit are thought provoking and blend artistry while shedding light on violence, repression and movements against it.

I can also hardly mention Christoff without also reminding people that DAM, an incredible Palestinian hip hop ensemble, are coming to Montreal for the next installment of Artists Against Apratheid – the ninth if you can believe it. It’ll be going down on Sept. 28th at Café Campus (57 Prince Aurthur East). Also performing that night will be Montreal Iraqi-Canadian hiphopper the Narcicyst. To give you a little taste of what to expect, here’s Narcy’s latest video…
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Narcicyst- P.H.A.T.W.A. (Official…“, posted with vodpod


Written by Tim McSorley

September 21, 2009 at 11:22 am

Thursday/Jeudi: La fin du néandertal

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This Thursday at 8:30pm, Bruno Dubuc will be screening his latest film at Club Social in the Mile End (180 St-Viateur East). Three years in the making, La fin du néandertal is an exploration of Montreal city politics, activism, and the hope for a better city friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and all residents, and devoid of cars: a city that has moved outside of the age of the neanderthals. In particular, it follows both the municipal party Projet Montréal and the Maison Aurore Traffic Committee, a community organisation in the Plateau, as they both set out to change the city in their own way. I had a chance to interview Bruno at the end of June just before the premier screening of the film at Cinéma du Parc. Below you can listen to the unedited director’s cut. I haven’t had a chance to see the film yet, but in a year where we are in line for a heated municipal election – and a possibly strong turn out for Projet Montréal – the film is a must-see, based on the topic alone.

Ce jeudi, Bruno Dubuc présente son nouveau métrage La fin du néandertal au café Club Social dans le Mile End (180 St-Viateur est). Un exploration qui à durée trois année, ce film chronique les changements dans le militantisme urbaine à Montréal depuis 2006. Entre autre, ça suit le développement de deux organismes – le parti municipal Projet Montréal et le comité de circulation de la Maison d’Aurore, une organisme communautaire – qui s’engage à changer comment nous vivons ensemble en ville. J’ai eu la chance de parler avec Bruno en fin juin, juste avant la première de son film à Cinéma du Parc. Vous pouvez écouter ci-bas l’entrevue en entier. J’en ai pas encore eu la chance de visionner le film, mais j’en suis certain que dans cette année qui annonce des élections municipaux chauds cet hiver, c’est une film à voir.

Bruno Dubuc: La fin du néandertal/Le lendemain de la veille/25 juin 2009/19min23sec:

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Written by Tim McSorley

July 27, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Dupuis still doesn’t get it

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Listening to CBC report on yesterday’s events in Montreal North, it seems like Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis still doesn’t get it.

Last night there was a confrontation between police and youth in Montreal North. News outlets are reporting that residents of the Montreal borough called police, disturbed by a group of youth in a nearby park who were allegedly drinking and causing a disturbance. Police say when officers arrived, they were surrounded by the youth and needed to call back-up. Reports go on to say the youth then started throwing bottles and other objects at police and causing damage, including breaking car windows.

It was a different park, but the same area where Fredy Villanueva was shot and killed by police last summer. The hearings into Villanueva’s death have been suspended after most witnesses, including Villanueva’s family, refused to participate for a variety of reasons, including the fact the commission was not allowed to find fault and Minister Dupuis’ refusal to provide funds to help pay for lawyers of those assisting in the public hearings.

The events weren’t a direct response to Fredy Villanueva’s death, but Dupuis’ statements this morning to CBC radio that there is no link between the two events is more than a little staggering. All the more so since on CBC Radio Noon right now, residents, police and community activists are all saying that there is a link. Tensions in the community remain high, they are expalining, and youth are still suspicious of police.

And according to resident Will Prosper, a member of Montréal-Nord Républik, not enough has been done to either improve policing tactics or the living conditions of residents of one of Montreal’s poorest areas despite promises by the city and provincial government to work on both after Villanueva’s senseless death.

Until politicians like Dupuis and folks on the bourough council in Montréal-Nord start to understand all this, and until there is closure on the death of Fredy Villanueva, tensions in the area are doomed to continue.

Written by Tim McSorley

June 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Speaking from the streets

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I’m a few days late on this, but last Monday marked the 7th edition of the Homelessness Marathon, a special broadcast produced by CKUT radio in Montreal. Taking place overnight live from the streets of Montreal, it provides an outlet for independent and community media producers and Montreal’s homeless to come together to speak of the reality of living on the streets. The broadcast is a truly amazing accomplishment – 14 hours of programming carried on 40 stations across North America, and with contributions from stations from Halifax to Vancouver – and symbol of what can be accomplished through grassroots community media.

You can listen to the archives of the homelessness marathon at (this year’s edition is not yet up on that page, but you can find each hour for now by listening to last mondays night’s archives on the general CKUT archives page).

Written by Tim McSorley

February 26, 2009 at 6:30 pm

City of Montreal: Let them ride bikes!

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While we knew it was coming, we didn’t know when. But it’s official: Montreal plans to kick off a new self-serve bicycle program this fall. Come September, the city will set up four stands with about 40 bicycles as a pilot project in the boroughs of Ville Marie, Plateau Mont Royal and Rosemont/Petite Patrie. Once the kinks are worked out, next Spring will see 2,400 bikes at 300 stations around Montreal.

The program will feature mobile stands, both so the city can move them around, and also so they can be removed for snow removal in the winter. The bikes themselves will be made of light-weight aluminum to avoid rust and will feature easily adjustable seats, 3 gears and a bag rack on the front.

No word yet on the exact cost, but city officials say it will be less than the price of a bus ticket, so under $2.75. The fee scale will most likely be based on models currently used in Europe, with the first 30 minutes being very cheap, and steep rises afterwards as a way to limit people going on long joy rides. Payment will be made either through a a charge card or by credit card.

To try and hype up the project and get the community involved, Montrealers are also being asked to propose a name for the new bike network. You can make your submissions through Contestants are asked to suggest a name, and then go back later to vote for their favorite proposal. Some nifty prizes to win, too, including a free lifetime membership with the yet-to-be named bike system


PS – No one seems to be quite sure if the picture above is what the bikes will actually look like. Part of the surprise, I guess…

Written by Tim McSorley

June 11, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Residents reclaiming The Point

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Residents of South West Montreal haven’t had it easy over the last few years when it comes to how the land in their neighbourhood is used. Fights against casinos, luxury condos and high-end shopping malls – all unaccessible to or unwanted by many residents – have marked the political and social landscapes.

Throughout it all, residents and community organisations have been putting forward their own counter-proposals, particularly in Pointe-St-Charles where the future of the CN Railyards has been especially contentious. While some community proposals are languishing at city council, particularly an extensive plan submitted by local organisation Action Gardien, some residents are taking action into their own hands.

Starting today, and lasting all weekend, the Carrefour d’Éducation Populaire de PSC (2356 Centre Street) will house the launch of Montreal’s first Autonomous Social Centre. The ASC is an lofty undertaking with the goal of providing community-run resources independent of the city and development corporations.

Throughout the weekend, residents of the neighbourood and Montrealers are invited to take part in Reclaim Your Point. Visitors will be able to take part in a plethora of programs and resources including a bike repair centre (and the launch of a free bike fleet), a community kitchen, an indymedia centre and a wide range of workshops on everything from dance and games to alternative ways of community organising. Tonight also features film screenings and tomorrow night there will be a parade from the centre to Café Paradoxe (255 Rue Ash, 8:30 pm) for a community cabaret featuring local acts, including personal favorites Swamp Sex Robots and the Gumboots.

As a weekend undertaking the event is impressive enough, but the goal is much higher. The next two and-a -half days mark the beginning of a year long campaign to establish a permanent space for the ASC. ASCs aren’t as common in North America, but have a rich history in other parts of the the world, including France and Italy. More often than not they are based on reclaimed spaces and squats, where residents, tired of waiting on local elected officials and of the commercial (instead of community) focused plans of developpers, take over an unused building and turn it into a centre providing for the needs of the neighbourhood.

This new ASC has the same goal for the Pointe-St-Charles nighbourhood and is focussing on unused buildings in the CN railyards. While a final location has not yet been picked, the group’s goal is to use this weekend’s event to kick-off a year long drive to gather broader community support so that, by next summer, the can establish a permanent space in one of the railyards many unused buildings.

I’ll be swinging by tomorrow and will have an update (hopefully with pictures) by the end of the weekend…

Protecting the Right to Abortion: Out against Bill C-484

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If I have more time, I’ll post more on this later, but this Sunday there will be a very important march in Montreal on an issue I think all Canadians should be concerned about. The fight for legal abortions in Canada was a hard fought, decades-long battle. And while there is definitely no unanimity on the issue, it has been 20 years that women have not had to fear legal repercussions for seeking out an abortion.

Bill C-484, though, has raised serious concerns among many that the right to an abortion could be facing its most serious challenge in at least the last 10 years, if not longer. Officially the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, and introduced by Conservative MP Tom Epps, the bill seeks to increase the penalty for those who harm a woman who is pregnant, essentially on the basis that greater harm is done because a second potential life is taken. While on the surface this may appear harmless, there are fears that such a law would reopen the debate on the rights of a foetus. Proponents of the bill claim that there are provisions built in so that women are not held liable for injury to a foetus, and that this law does not go any further than any pre-existing laws, but critics still fear the repercussions and precedent set by the law.

There will be a demonstration this Sunday, June 1st, against the bill in Montreal. People will be assembling at 2pm at the corner of St-Jospeh and St-Laurent, and the march will begin at 2pm sharp.

I wish I had more time to post links to back up all this, but here are some sites with lots more information:

Written by Tim McSorley

May 30, 2008 at 9:00 pm