Montréal. Montreal debate. Mar 23, 2013 (Photo: Adam scotti)

Last fall, Justin Trudeau was unequivocal: if he won the elections, he would make sure that it would be the last election to happen under the first-past-the-post system. After exactly one year in office, the Prime Minister is backpedaling.

In an interview with Le Devoir on Thursday, Trudeau was much vaguer on his plans for electoral reform: “We’re going to see what happens at the consultations, the reactions and the results of the reports.”

He pleaded that switching to a more representative system such as Single Transferable Vote or Mixed-Proportional can only be done if the population “is open to it.”

He explained that smaller improvements could be made more easily: “Less support and a small change; that might be acceptable. A bigger change would need more support.”

What constitutes a small or a bigger change? Those questions will be answered through “rigorous and intelligent conversations with Canadians,” according to Trudeau.

A committee mandated by the government is currently conducting consultations through the country about how to make the voting system more representative. A report containing their conclusions and recommendations is awaited on December 1st.

Trudeau is not ready, however, to promise the recommendations will be followed, according to Le Devoir. What sort of proof of popular support does the government need to go forward with a “bigger” electoral reform is not clear either.

“We’re not going to prejudge what is necessary, but when we say a substantial support, it means something,” said Trudeau.

Lack of popular support?

The minister of democratic institutions, Maryam Monsef, has frequently brought up the importance of having the support of the population before going forward with the reform in the last few months. It didn’t seem particularly significant, considering the undisputed popularity of the idea.

After all, the Liberals were counting on on it during their campaign in 2015.  After one year in office, though, they seem a lot less certain.

“Under Mr Harper, there were so many people who were dissatisfied with the government and its approach that people were saying ‘it takes an electoral reform so we’ll stop getting governments we don’t like’. And under the current system, they now have a government with whom they’re more satisfied, so the motivation to change the system is less glaring,” argued Trudeau.

However, a poll conducted by Abacus Data (commissioned by Broadbent Institute) in December showed that Canadians wanted the Liberals to uphold their promise. 83% of respondents thought the way MPs were elected needed at least some changes, with 44% believing it needed either major changes or complete transformation. Unsurprisingly, Quebeckers and supporters of Greens, NDP or Bloc were the most likely to want drastic changes.

In 2015, the Liberals won a majority government with 39% of the vote, just like the Conservatives did in 2011.

It should be noted that all major parties, except the Conservative Party, are in favour of electoral reform. Needless to say, the questions period on Thursday was not an easy one for the Prime Minister.

“The Prime Minister said that while he liked the idea of getting rid of our unfair first-past-the post-system, now that he has been able to get elected using that very system, it might not be so bad after all!” summarized Thomas Mulcair, the leader of NDP. He claimed that the desire of Canadians for an electoral reform was clear.

Rhéal Fortin, interim leader of Bloc Québécois, later commented that Trudeau was betraying the trust of the voters. Even Conservatives joined in, accusing the Liberals of self-contradiction.

The government will be conducting public consultations about the electoral reform throughout October.

*Featured image by Adam Scotti


Remember January 1st 2000? Or December 21st 2012? Those were supposed to be the End Of Days, the Apocalypse. I am no Nostradamus but I have a prediction, a new arbitrary date for the end of the world. November 8, 2016. Civilization as we know it will crumble, only the rich and slithering will survive.

When Chris Wallace (from Fox News), the moderator of the United States Presidental debate last night, said “I am not a potted plant here!” it resonated with me. I feel that way too! I am screaming for it to stop and nobody listens.

Sometimes all of the propaganda really gets to be overwhelming, I feel like my voice is lost in the chaos. Sitting there in a window, someone forgot to water me, and I am not a cactus. I am a dried up succulent, an ancient aloe vera maybe, spiky and sincere.

My tendrils need attention, they are covered in dust. If nourished my insides can heal, my ideas can save the world, a natural combatant of inflammation, squeeze me out on to your wounds, I will kiss them and make it all better. Houseplants bring oxygen and warmth to a room. We need it as the earth is dying because of humanity’s overall greed and lack of conscience.


If politics doesn’t kill it I believe this world will end with Terminators Vs Zombies. It is a movie that hasn’t been made yet, but is totally plausible. The rise of machines is taking away jobs (more than immigrants as Donster has complained about).

People are also becoming zombies to technology. It is scary when I am sitting on my laptop in front of the desktop and texting on my cellphone at the same instant. Or a table full of children at the dinner table sit mouth open staring onto their glowing devices instead of having conversations with their family. It is all so in your face, fast and present. technology is bizarre and is turning people into literal zombies.

Now we also have the clowns to deal with. Clowns are taking over the US. Creepy clowns yielding weapons are trying to lure kids into the woods. GREAT!

There are so many things to be terrified of this Halloween season. I am terrified that people are supporting Donald Trump. Currently I am watching shit spew from his stupid, racist, misogynist mouth. It makes me sick when his supporters speak out. I go to the Halloween store and see their faces in mask form. Its absolutely bizarre.

Amy Schumer called Hilary Clinton “Hilldog” when she performed at her birthday dinner. I was a big Bernie Sanders supporter at the time, and not as Gloria Stienam would say “for the boys.” I actually thought he had a good heart, he cared about people and the environment, he was not evil. The current candidates are a “lesser of two evils” scenario.

Falling asleep at the wheel of life, swerving the car and trying to blast the music and open the window of cool air to the face. This government should crash and burn. I am afraid because these are the same idiots that elected George W Bush TWICE!

The people who run the government are the ones you don’t see. All of the candidates and winners are mere puppets. The strings are being pulled by an omniscient secret society, perhaps the Illiminati? But I don’t want to seem crazy. Billionares giving money to these politicians expect something in return, much like a guy buying me a drink and expecting more. I don’t accept drinks for that very reason.

Photo of Egbert Bickley by John Hickey from the Buffalo News

In a world where some women are not even attractive enough to grope, let alone vote, Trump constantly belittles women, venomously wanting to take away our rights. I am disgusted when I see his supporters, there is a man in South Buffalo, my neighbor, that has his house painted with signs that say Trump Mafia and has a noose hanging on the front lawn. Strange fruit indeed. WTF?

Trying to deal with my own problems and I am bombarded with so much else. I can’t even clean my room, can’t pick up my phone because it’s all bill collectors. I think about all the loves I have lost or never got the chance to love, I contemplate loneliness and the survival of society. Then there are places where they push gays off buildings and kill women.

“If you don’t like what I did you should have changed the laws,” you should have stopped me from being an asshole Trump says, admitting to wrong doing and saying it was HER fault for not stopping him? WHAT?! Blame women. She is rehearsed and he is crude. I want a Native American President. Imagine going back to nature. If I can’t have that, I really want anarchy!

I work at a hostel and was watching the debate with people from around the world. I wanted to hear their perspectives at the idiocracy in front of us.

bubbles and catsSometimes you just need to come home to your house full of cats and beautiful creative roommates and smoke a bowl and drink a tall boy. Purry furry love nuggets – unconditionally waiting, ready to cuddle.

I have always done better with animals than people even. It goes animals, then kids, then old people, then adults, then my peers (I will never see myself as an adult).

wandering plantMy cats are my world. We watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch. A story of the triumph of love and search for self worth in an imperfect world. Punk rock opera perfection, escape from the vicious reality.

Like all humans I have hopes and dreams, I hope the world doesn’t really end on November 8th and I dream of a future filled with constant change.

I yearn to travel, I want to go to Poland and see the blue light up fairy bike path. I want to backpack through Germany. I want to paint in Paris. I want to smoke in Amsterdamn. I want to lounge in Jamaica. I want to paint with Elephants in Thailand. I want to kiss the Blarney Stone. First I need a passport.

If you want to be a painter, paint, if you want to be a musician, make music. If you want to be a politician, be an asshole, be a puppet, be a phoney.

I vote for the houseplants, for the trees and the animals. I vote for the children, for the future. I vote for the good clowns. Since the Apocolypse is Meow there is no time but the present.


The United States is, was, and most likely will continue to be a two-party system. Changing that would be, to put it mildly, an uphill battle and one unlikely to be won with the Electoral College still in place.

All hope of breaking away from the corporate duopoly that now exists and achieving real progress is not lost, though. In fact, it may be a strong possibility in four or eight years. There is a historical precedent.

Zachary Taylor and the Whigs


Ever hear of Zachary Taylor? He was the 12th President of the United States. He was elected under the banner of the Whig Party and served a little over a year in office beginning in 1849 until his death in 1850, when his Vice President Millard Fillmore assumed office for the rest of his term.

Never heard of the Whig Party? Not surprising. They were one of the two major US parties, along with the Democrats, that benefited from the two-party system. However, they never elected another President after the end of the Taylor/Fillmore term.

Why? Because Taylor was not a typical Whig candidate. In fact, he crossed with the party he became the standard bearer of on many issues, most notably on slavery. You could say he destroyed the Whig Party despite being successful electorally.

The Democratic Party took over for the next two Presidents until a third party challenger took power. His name was Abraham Lincoln and the third party he represented was an upstart organization called the Republican Party.

The two-party system continued, only one of those parties had now changed.

It’s Happening…Again!

Back in June, Politico wrote a thorough analysis of how Taylor destroyed the Whigs. They also drew a historical parallel between that clash and the current animosity between Donald Trump and the establishment of that once upstart third party, now establishment brand known as the GOP.

A few months ago, a split was just a possibility, but now it looks like it’s happening. Establishment Republicans, including former supporters, have been desertin’ Trump in droves following the Access Hollywood leak. Guess attacking married white women was just a bridge too far for the GOP establishment.

Meanwhile, Trump supporters and the candidate himself have been attacking some of their fellow Republicans almost as much as they have been attacking Hillary Clinton. One Trump supporter even told The Young Turks that GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan is in cahoots with Clinton and was the one who leaked the Trump Tape. Lack of logic notwithstanding, you know that guy votes.

This Election Day, we could potentially see some Republicans going to the polls, choosing GOP House and Senate candidates but leaving President blank, writing someone in or even checking Clinton. At the same time, hardcore Trump supporters could vote to put their guy into the White House but leave the rest of the ballot blank to punish the GOP brass for deserting The Donald.

November 8th could spell electoral disaster for the Republican Party and the wound may be too deep to heal. It’s possible that what would be considered a third party challenge today could be one of the two dominant parties in a two-party system four, eight or twelve years from now, depending on how quickly the GOP collapses electorally and internally.

The Best Outcome for the Two-Party System

If it does go down like this, the most likely thing to happen is the remnants of the Republican establishment will join up with the Democrats. I mean if a Bush can vote for a Clinton, anything is possible. Maybe they’d even resurrect the very old name Democrat – Republican Party, like back in the day.


They’d be the corporate party, the establishment party, the Wall Street party. They’d have to reach a compromise on hot button social issues, but since the far right base that the GOP had nurtured would have been lost to Trump, I suspect they would end up going left of centre on issues like abortion, marriage equality and trans rights but, as a compromise, swing right on guns.

When it comes to climate change (including pipelines), racism and police violence, campaign finance reform and war, I suspect they would do what the Dems almost always do: talk a good progressive game but in practice, it’s business as usual.

So that’s one of the two parties. The real question would be who would fill the void left by the demise of the GOP. If it turns out to be the Libertarian Party or some new Alt-Right monstrosity, then America is screwed. No more, though, than the country is already. Having to side with the corporate establishment to get some sort of social progress is pretty much the status quo.

However, this would also be a golden opportunity for a truly progressive third party, maybe the Green Party or a new entity formed by BernieCrats, to take over the slot as one of the two main parties. The way around all the impediments to revolution and/or progress within a two-party system may exist within that system. You just need to completely replace one of the two major parties.



The New Democratic Party of Quebec will soon be a thing. We spoke to its interim leader, Pierre Ducasse, on the phone.

“An alternative for people who want to have a progressive, social democratic voice, but at the same time a party that wants to work within Canada.” That’s what the NDPQ aspires to be in the next provincial elections.

Pierre Ducasse, three time candidate for the federal NDP and once Jack Layton’s “Quebec lieutenant”, officially kicked off the NDPQ public campaign this Wednesday.

“We have to get out of this political void and gloom. Maybe it’s time to give a home – a real one this time- to political orphans,” he wrote in an open letter on Facebook.

The idea has been in the air for some time. In fact, the New Democratic Party first got registered at the DGE in 2012, even if it was just to protect the name. “A few years earlier, a conservative tried to register the name New Democratic Party of Quebec, so we didn’t want that to happen,” explains Ducasse. With only about 300 members to date, the NDPQ is ready to start recruiting. The interim leader is confident that it will be a fully functioning party before the 2018 elections.

“Organizationally, it might be tough, but we can’t give a free pass to this government anymore,” he admits.

Despite the declining enthusiasm of Quebeckers for the federal NDP, he feels that the timing is just right to “shake up the political dynamics” in the province.

What makes the timing right?

For me, the decision to create a Quebec NDP relies exclusively on analysis of the context. That context is that feeling of morosity; the feeling that Quebec is not moving, that there is no project that builds bridges and brings people together. There is the lingering issue of sovereignty where people are still polarized in a way that is not useful.

With Couillard and Charest before him… when we look at it, they are not really liberals, are they? They are more conservatives…. This has to stop because we sense so much arrogance with this government, scandal after scandal. Ethics and fighting corruption: they are not our number one priorities and they should be.

At the same time, I think a lot of Quebeckers are fed up with the constant polarization around the national question. A lot of Quebeckers – it’s been clear from the polls- don’t want another sovereignty referendum. But, sadly, the PQ and others want to bring us in this direction.

Between the unconditional federalist partisans of the Status Quo on one side and the unconditional independentists on the other side, the rest of the population feels held hostage. We need to find a way to move beyond this debate – well not beyond it, but beyond how it’s debated ducasse-fbright now.

Except on the independence issue, your positions seem similar to Quebec Solidaire’s. Are you concerned about splitting the left vote?

I said repeatedly that we can’t steal the votes from other parties for one simple reason: the vote belongs to the citizens; it doesn’t belong to the parties. Some people think that Quebec NDP would divert support from QS mostly, others think that it would be at the liberals’ expense mostly… The only way to know is to do it.

One thing I can say for sure is that I do not consider Québec Solidaire my opponent or my enemy. For me the adversaries are these right-wing policies, whether they’re from the liberals or from any other party: those austerity policies, the lack of focus on education and health and fighting poverty. And right now they are embodied by the Quebec Liberal party – who is ideologically closer to a conservative party.

How many people do you think vote Liberal, not because they necessarily like them, but because they could never vote for a sovereignist party? A lot of people say ‘we hold our nose while voting”. Well, maybe holding our nose is not something we should do while voting,

Your assessment of Quebec’s political landscape is pretty harsh. Referring to the Liberal party, you said “when we ask for nothing, chances are we will get it.” What is the NDPQ going to ask of Ottawa?

It’s too soon to get into specifics, but look at the Liberals… what I’m saying is they have not put forward a vision, like: this is how we see provincial-federal relations, these are the issues we’d like to work cooperatively with other provinces and these are issues where we might have a different approach…

Sadly, the only two files in which we had a sense that the Couillard government really took a firm stand against Ottawa, were in terms of pensions and healthcare. And in both cases, it was, in my mind, the wrong decisions! When the federal wanted to strengthen the pension plan and the Régie des rentes du Québec: that was an example of when we should have worked with other provinces. I certainly support the principles of the Canada Health Act and certainly support that we can’t have more health care privatization, but we shouldn’t wait for somebody else to tell us.

The federal NDP has had a rough time since last elections, especially in Quebec where it lost 75% of its membership. Why would Quebeckers be interested in a provincial version of it?

I was there, building the party in the beginning of the 2000s with Jack [Layton], and I remember a time when we had 1% in Quebec. That didn’t stop us: we believed in the project and we moved forward and a decade later there was the Orange Wave.

I’m well aware that the 2015 elections did not have the results we had hoped. We’ll see what happens federally. The liberals tend to talk on the left, but for a lot of issues, it’s the same policies as Harper.  But the federal Liberals are at least pretending to be progressive, where the Quebec Liberals are not even pretending!

The Quebec NDP would be independent, there is no automatic affiliation between the two but there is certainly an ideological proximity with the Federal NDP. Many members might be involved in both so, the ideas are similar, but it doesn’t mean they will be exactly the same all the time. If it’s a distinct autonomous party, it means that it may not be always exactly the same.


Over the next few months, the NDPQ will be forming riding committees and organizing training sessions about Quebec’s electoral law for its members.


Corruption is something as intrinsic to the City of Montreal as the Jazz Festival, fine cuisine, and frivolous disputes over the language of commercial signage. The end of this month is an important date in the world of municipal corruption because it is the deadline for construction companies to pay the City of Montreal back for the overcharging revealed in the massive collusion investigation conducted by the Charbonneau Commission.

Collusion is a secret agreement between two or more people with the goal of causing harm to one or more of them or to reach an objective prohibited by law.

The investigation by the Charbonneau Commission led by Justice France Charbonneau and her fellow commissioner, former Auditor General of Quebec Renaud Lachance, was started in 2011 under former premier Jean Charest. Its goal was to investigate corruption between Quebec government bodies, construction and engineering firms, and in many cases the Montreal Mafia, since 1996.

The enquiry revealed construction and engineering firms billing of the City of Montreal for phony expenses, the rigging of bids for public works projects, and the mandatory paying of kickbacks to government officials and mobsters. Among those implicated in the investigation are the engineering firm Roche and the construction firm Les Grands Travaux Soter. Former Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt was also implicated with reports indicating that entrepreneurs working on Laval projects were expected to give him a two point five percent cut of the value of each contract they got.

Gilles Vaillancourt has since stepped down as mayor after over 23 years in office and is now facing charges for conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust, and gangsterism.

The corruption allegations in Quebec and the ensuing Charbonneau Commission resulted in the adoption of the Quebec Anti-Corruption Act in 2011.

The purpose of the act is to prevent and fight corruption in contractual matters with the public sector. The law also has the goal of restoring the public’s faith in the private sector’s construction deals with the government. Among its provisions is the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, who is appointed by the Quebec government to fight corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Act is excessive. The Canadian Criminal Code already has provisions against fraud, corruption, and bribery, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the police and Attorney General who can conduct investigations and prosecute offenders.

What the law does in addition to creating the Anti-Corruption Commissioner is specify what bodies are considered part of the public sector and therefore under the Commissioner’s jurisdiction. This includes any public body or government agency, the Université du Québec and its constituent universities, research institutes and superior schools, and all schools and school boards established by law and/or eligible for government subsidies. ^Though logic dictates that any organization funded by or under the control of the government is part of the public sector.

With agents and organizations already in place to investigate corruption and criminal activity, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner appears to be a purely symbolic office created to show the federal government that Quebec can handle its own corruption problems without the intervention of federally appointed prosecutors and judges.

The reason it is important to discuss this now is because of Law 26, adopted unanimously by the Quebec National Assembly in March of 2015 as the Charbonneau Commission drew to a close.

Law 26, known in long form as an Act to ensure mainly the recovery of amounts obtained as a result of fraud or fraudulent tactics in connection with public contracts sets up a program by which companies implicated in fraud can pay back some of the money they cheated taxpayers of.

The City of Montreal sent out 380 letters last November to the construction and engineering firms who’ve dealt with the City since 1996. The letters demanded that construction companies pay back 20% of the value of the contracts they’ve had with the City for over two decades in cases where the company was involved in collusion.

Companies and individuals have until November first 2016 to announce their intention to participate. SNC Lavalin, Dessau, and Construction Frank Catania and Associates Inc. have all publicly declared their intention to take part.

Though the law says the program is voluntary, companies that refuse to pay up can face stiff penalties, be sued by the City of Montreal, and be barred from bidding on future contracts with the City.

Former Chief Justice of the Superior Court, François Rolland, who is now Director of this Voluntary Reimbursement Program, has expressed his belief that this will be incentive enough for companies to come forward, but some believe the law lacks teeth.

Simon Seida, a Montreal lawyer with Blake, Cassels & Graydon, told the CBC on November third 2015 that a company that has received no indication that the government is looking into its practices with public contracts or that they’re going to get sued will have little inclination to participate and he is right.

No individual or company is going to pay the government money it does not feel it is legally bound to pay.

There are undoubtedly tons of construction companies in Quebec guilty of collusion but investigations, trials, and lawsuits are probably just as expensive for taxpayers as corruption itself. The Quebec government should go after the big companies involved in the bigger crimes and let the little fish go.

It is the big companies that need to be made an example of and held accountable, not the little ones who made mistakes in the hopes of competing with them. In the name of fiscal accountability, a little streamlining and cutting of government offices wouldn’t hurt either.


When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hit the stage tonight at Washington University in St-Louis for the Second Presidential Debate, it doesn’t really matter what questions moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz or any of the pre-selected “town hall” audience members ask. The discussion will inevitably pivot to sexual assault.

In particular, Friday’s Washington Post/Access Hollywood leak (yes, Access Hollywood is now part of this campaign) of a 2005 recording in which Trump brags to Billy Bush, off camera, about how his celebrity allows him to kiss, grope and grab the genitals of women without their consent and get away with it. If you haven’t already heard it, you  can on the Washington Post site, but, obviously, it’s quite vulgar.

This is the kind of “hot mic” incident that would (and should) tank the candidacy of someone running for Congress or Sanitation Commissioner in a small town, never mind freaking President of the United States. But this is Donald Trump. A man who has proven, time and time again, that no matter what he says or does, his supporters will still back him.

No wonder it seemed like this leak, no matter how vile, would be something he could simply brush off. Sure, there would be major criticism from the left, from women and from men who respect women, but it would be limited to people who wouldn’t have voted for Trump anyways.

But something interesting has happened. Prominent members of the Republican establishment have come out against Trump, even a few former supporters. Actual supporters, not just GOP luminaries who endorsed him by default. This included his top female supporter in the Senate:

The party even suspended funding for his presidential bid, presumably to divert it to Senate and House candidates that now need all the help they can to win in spite of Trump.

Fischer and others even urged Trump to drop out:

Others mused about the GOP kicking him off the ticket, though the chances of that happening this late in the game are extremely unlikely. A Politico poll released just today shows that the Republican base still want Trump as their standard bearer. It’s also unlikely that Trump will try to ignore questions about the leak during the debate.

Yesterday, after assuring supporters that he would not drop out under any circumstance, Trump hinted at his plan of attack, or rather response, on Twitter. He re-tweeted two tweets by Juanita Broaddrick, the woman who accused Bill Clinton of raping her and Hillary intimidating her to cover it up:

So Trump is planning to respond to “You brag about sexual assault!” with “Your husband’s a rapist and you enable him!” They may even get around to policy at some point.

They probably won’t get around to the other leak that happened the same day. On Friday, Wikileaks released Clinton Campaign emails discussing potential fallout from transcripts of Hillary’s Wall Street speeches getting leaked. These emails included sections from the transcripts themselves that the campaign thought could be problematic.

Ironically, the discussions about what to do if the transcripts got out were themselves what got out. As an op-ed in New York Magazine pointed out quite eloquently (while at the same time posting the transcripts), this leak would have been devastating for the Clinton Campaign had we also not got the proof that Donald Trump is a sexual predator at the same time.

So while on one hand it’s unfortunate that so many issues will get buried at tonight’s debate, on the other, it’s important that what Trump said to Billy Bush won’t be. Following the release of the tape, thousands of women began sharing their assault stories online.

It has also become impossible to argue that rape culture doesn’t exist when someone who brags about assaulting women and talks about them as objects and doesn’t really see anything wrong with that finds himself a few electoral college votes away from becoming POTUS.

It’s important that Trump’s initial dismissal of the tape as “locker room talk” doesn’t fly. The de-normalization of misogynistic talk needs to happen and this is the perfect opportunity to do it.

This Presidential Election won’t fix all of the problems facing the US, and quite likely won’t improve things overall that much. The best it can hope to accomplish at this point is to bring some of the ugliness of society out of the shadows of closed tour buses into the light and it has a chance to do that tonight.

It may just be one topic, but it will still be a debate to watch.

pit bull 1

A lot has happened over the past few days concerning Montreal’s controversial Pit Bull Ban (officially the Animal Control Bylaw). On Monday, when the whole thing was supposed to go into effect, a judge issued a two day suspension.

Then, on Wednesday, Justice Louis Gouin of the Quebec Superior Court agreed with the SPCA’s lawyers and granted an indefinite suspension on the parts of the law dealing with “Pit Bull-Type Dogs” until a proper hearing can be held. The sections that affect other breeds of dog as well as other animals such as cats are still in effect.

Now, today, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre dug in his heels and announced that the City of Montreal will be appealing the decision in a letter posted on his Facebook Page and the official city site. With no sign of Coderre backing down, and the courts waiting to rule, let’s take a look at just what this law entails:


After years of pleading, debating and waiting, the Quebec Ministry of Health officially released the funds to open three supervised injection sites (SIS), as well as one mobile unit in Montreal. Two such sites are already in function in Vancouver, but it will be a first for Quebec.

Quebec will release $12 million over three years to three community centres in Montreal: Spectre de rue, CACTUS and Dopamine. One part of the money will help the centres prepare the locations and fulfill all the requirements to be granted an exemption from the law on drugs by the federal government.

The other part will be used for the launching and running of the sites’ operations. One mobile unit will also be providing services in a few boroughs. No official date is set for the opening of the facilities, but Le Devoir mentioned that it could be as soon as March 2017.

The project is far from new. In fact, six years have already passed since the Director of Public Health started pushing for the opening of SIS in Montreal. In June 2015, Mayor Coderre had announced his plan to go forward with the facilities, with or without Ottawa’s approval.

At the time, the provincial government decided to lend a hand. According to Lucie Charlebois, Quebec’s Minister of Health and Healthy Living, “we are now at the final step” of the process.

She told Radio-Canada that the work on installations and the hiring of medical staff was already on track. “That means we’re advancing quickly.” She commented that she discussed the matter with her federal counterpart, Jane Philpott: “she is very receptive towards it, but we have to fit certain criteria, that is clear.” Charlebois stated that she believes that getting the federal approval will be a formality.

Sandhia Vadlamudy, the director of CACTUS, told FTB by phone that this formality requires a lot of paperwork, but no problematic modifications.

Last year, CACTUS distributed 610 000 clean syringes in an effort to prevent transmission of infection, which is around 65% of distributed materials on the island, including those distributed in CLSCs and drugstores. With their supervised injection site finally going forward, they will be able to “add one more tool to prevent infections and overdoses.”

Some have argued that the government would do better to focus on treating drug addiction or even on cracking down on drug crime instead of improving the conditions of drug use. Vadlamudy doesn’t think that promoting abstinence and prohibition is sufficient.

“This approach is more based on pragmatism; which is to say drugs exist and people take them.”

She argued that SIS are beneficial for more than just drug users, highlighting that, within four years of operation,  SIS start saving money for the healthcare system by preventing overdoses and health deterioration in users.

It will also help reduce the number of intoxicated people and of used needles left on the streets “and thus improve the quality of life of everyone in the community.”

Slowly breaking the taboo

According to the Director of Public Health, there are 4000 regular users of injectable drugs in Montreal. People who use injectable drugs are 59 times more like to be infected with HIV. An average of 70 people die of drug overdoses every year in Montreal.

In the eyes of many, SIS remain a marginal, controversial option for desperate cases, when they are not a silly progressive scheme. But their growing popularity around the world and the expanding stack of evidence in their favour are now hard to ignore.

The first North American facility, Insite, opened in Vancouver 13 years ago.  In 2008, federal health minister Tony Clement called it “a failure of public policy, indeed of ethical judgment.” Just last spring, Toronto’s Police Association expressed firm opposition to the idea of opening SIS in their city.

“Insite is not a model we want to see replicated,” association president Mike McCormack said, fearing that SIS would attract crime and loitering and thinks that government money would be better spent on treatment options.

Insite handles 600 injections daily. Not one person has died of an overdose within its walls. According to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, there was a 35% decrease in overdose deaths in the area of forty blocks around the site. BC’s HIV and Hepatitis C infection rate went from the highest of the country to one of the lowest. More than thirty peer-reviewed papers were published about Insite’s beneficial impact.

Supervised rooms for drug consumption started popping up as a response to AIDS epidemics and the spike in overdoses in the eighties and nineties. There are now about 90 of them around the world.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction recently published a study in which they found overall that those sites increased safe and hygienic drug use and reduced risky behaviours. They also found that, contrary to Toronto’s Police Association’s concerns, there was no evidence that those sites increased drug related crime and violence in their vicinity.

*Featured image by Todd Huffman, WikiMedia Commons


You may have seen that meme. The one contrasting two Bernie Sanders rallies.

In the first image, taken when he was still running for President, Bernie’s in a stadium surrounded by thousands of people. In the second, he’s promoting Hillary Clinton to about 150 people in what looks like some sort of auditorium:


So, what happened? Did Bernie really drop that far in popularity in such a short time? No, he didn’t. By most accounts, he’s still one of the most popular politicians in the US.

I suspect the sharp attendance drop isn’t due to the speaker but rather the subject matter. It’s not what the thousands who flocked to him in the primaries want to hear him say, or at least not what will motivate them to come out in droves and hear him speak.

Think of a famous musician or band that you and quite a few others adore. They’ve got so many hits, but they also have that one album that really seems out of place. Now imagine they were going on tour and promised just to play songs from that one album very few like.

Sure, some may show up. Diehard fans and those few who actually do like the obscure material. But it won’t be anything like the attendance they would get on a regular tour.

It’s not that people no longer like the artist, they just don’t like the tunes they’ll be playing. It’s not that people no longer like Bernie, it’s just that they really aren’t fans of “We have to all vote Hillary to stop Trump.”

Now some of those Bernie fans staying home may very well vote for Hillary Clinton to prevent a Trump Presidency. They’re just not super excited about doing it.

DNC Logic Fail

It could have been easy for the Democrats this election cycle. They could have picked someone who inspired people by the thousands. Those who flocked to Obama in 08 but felt disappointed overall by the result were ready for Bernie to be the next phase, the one that would actually make the change happen. People who never voted before, or never voted for a major party before, were ready to do so for Bernie.

Problem was that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and establishment Democrats already had their nominee (the leaks proved it). They didn’t want Bernie to run for President under their banner, but they did want the people who flocked to him to vote Democrat in November.


The Dems thought they had the perfect solution: rig the Primaries against him, then convince Sanders to come on board and support Clinton. They had to make some concessions in the platform to do so, but it didn’t matter, once elected, they could do what they wanted to.

They got Bernie on board, so why didn’t their plan work? Surely all these people were just following a charismatic leader and would continue to follow him wherever he led them.

That thinking by the DNC is why America now faces the prospect of a reality TV star turned Twitter troll turned cornball fascist actually becoming President. The Democrats couldn’t see outside of their own bubble of top-down leadership and cult of personality.

If they had looked deeper, just a bit deeper, they would have remembered that Bernie Sanders had been saying the same things in pretty much the same way for decades. None of it had received much response outside of Vermont until 2015. They would have realized that it was only after the Occupy Movement happened and people began searching for a political voice that was aligned with their thinking that Sanders went from being someone people knew (and loved) in Burlington to a political phenom that millions wanted to see in the White House.

The movement that backed Bernie existed before it became Bernie’s political revolution. The people involved chose him as their champion and he agreed. When he stopped speaking for them and started speaking for Hillary, it was the end of that unofficial contract. They had chosen Bernie as their representative, they never chose Hillary, even if Bernie did.

You can co-opt a progressive politician. You can’t co-opt a progressive, bottom-up movement. The only thing you can do is embrace it and let it tell you where to go. The DNC clearly didn’t think of that, and now they’re paying for it.

Bernie’s Movement in Pieces

Now, Bermie’s movement is fragmented politically. Some have followed Bernie and gone to Hillary. Revolution later, stop Trump now, presumably. Others are supporting Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein, which makes most logical sense policy-wise.

A few, though, are outright voting Trump, I’m guessing to give the middle finger to the DNC, also probably all white. Some have chosen Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, which really confounds me. He’s like the anti-Bernie on many issues.

Yet, there are more who plan to simply write in Bernie’s name on the ballot and others who plan to stay home, or go to the bar, on election  day.


So this huge block of voters that would have all voted Democrat? They’re not a block anymore. Also, those volunteers that would have campaigned for Democrats up and down the ticket provided Bernie was at the top? Not gonna happen. Huge opportunity missed.

Instead, the Democrats’ path to retaining the White House relies on their traditional supporters and the fear of a Trump victory. Currently, Clinton and Trump are pretty much tied, with Clinton losing in key battleground states. Sure, it’s only by a little bit and tonight’s debate may turn that around, but the fact that it is even a contest is the real problem, a problem that the DNC could have avoided.

With all of the former Berners added to those who always vote Democrat added to those who fear a real life version of Idiocracy, Trump wouldn’t have stood a chance. The debates would have just been icing on the cake.

People want to vote for something. Now they have to vote against something and that’s never a good situation.

As for Bernie, he’ll draw the crowds once he starts playing the hits again.




Some politicians are fortunate enough, or charismatic enough, to have their own Mic Drop moment. The kind of no-nonsense moment they will be remembered for fondly. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, on the other hand, just had a Cut the Mic moment, literally.

It happened at a Ville Marie Borough Council meeting. Thanks to Gerald Tremblay, the Mayor of Montreal is the defacto Mayor of the Ville Marie Borough as well, but that’s a story for another day.

Resident Kim Doucet was speaking out against Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) and Coderre’s proposed ban on pit bulls. Members of the public are allowed to ask questions at council meetings and Doucet had already cleared it with Borough officials that she would deliver a statement, about a minute and a half in length, before getting to her question.

A little over a minute into her statement, this happened:

Predictably, people started sharing the video of what had happened. According to Radio-Canada, the video, through all the uploads on multiple platforms, was seen over 40 000 times. Coderre’s demand to “cut the mic” was amplified through the megaphone that is social media.

When Coderre took matters, and a jackhammer, into his own hands last year and decided to personally destroy the groundwork for one of Canada Post’s misguided Community Mailboxes, he came across as, well, kinda cool. When he was lowered into our sewer system to personally inspect raw sewage being sent directly to the St-Laurence, it came across as a damage control photo op. Now, ordering that Doucet’s mic be cut, he just looks like an asshole.

And a misguided one at that. Not only was Doucet following the rules of the council meeting, she was making a very good point about how BSL has never worked, a point Coderre didn’t want to hear. Well, she shared her full statement in a video, if you want to hear what the Mayor refused to.

It’s important that you do. Because, when the dust has settled, what are people going to remember? A soundbite that evokes Coderre’s lack of patience for people who disagree with him. The focus won’t be on his sheer populism at the expense of what a large chunk of the population he supposedly serves wants. It won’t be on his willful ignorance of the fact that Christiane Vadnais, the woman whose death caused this whole mess was probably not even killed by a pit bull.

No, we’ll be talking about Coderre being a dick to a citizen. By demanding that Doucet’s mic be cut, he has raised the volume considerably on his own lack of respect for the people he is supposed to serve. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure that the issue he was trying to silence doesn’t get drowned out in the process.

* FTB is currently conducting a poll on the proposed Montreal Pit Bull Ban and Breed-Specific Legislation. You can still vote.


Alberta officially started its path to reach a minimum salary of $15 an hour by 2018. The cabinet passed the legislation to launch the phased hike on Tuesday.  This surprisingly progressive move will make Alberta the province with the highest minimum wage in the country, and by far.

On October 1st, Alberta’s minimum salary will go from $11.20 to $12.20. It will rise to $13.60 in October 2017 and finally reach $15 on October 1st 2018.

The government has already reduced the gap between the general minimum wage and the one for servers and bartenders (these employees are generally paid less to compensate for the tip they receive) by half. The gap will be completely eliminated next month.

Premier Rachel Notley had promised to raise the minimum wage during last year’s provincial elections. She is now following through with it, despite backlash from business groups and other parties.

Unsurprisingly, detractors of the hike have predicted terrible consequences for the economy.  The opposition is convinced that unemployment will soar and small businesses will burn. Representatives of small businesses have launched a petition against the $15 wage. It should be noted that, despite popular beliefs, research has failed to prove a clear correlation between job losses and minimum wage hikes.

Notley’s party, the Alberta NDP, have relentlessly defended the hike as a necessity.

“Every Albertan should be able to afford rent, transportation and food. These increases will help insure that low wage earners can at least meet their basic needs,” said Labour Minister Christina Gray, when the plan was outlined in June.

There are approximately 305 000 Albertans currently living on minimal wage. According to the government’s numbers, almost two thirds of them are women. 44% have children under eighteen and 7% are single parents.

In 2015, 3.1% of Albertan workers were on minimum wage, but a much larger percentage, currently paid under $15 an hour, will be positively affected by the hike.

The proportion of workers on minimum wage is twice as high in Quebec.  In August, Minister of Finance Carlos Leitao made it very clear what he thought of raising the minimum wage. According to him, $10.75 is within the “advisable range” and the slight readjustment made every year for inflation is more than enough. “I don’t see why we would accelerate this process,” he declared to the Journal de Québec.

He was responding to Alexandre Taillefer, a businessman who gained notoriety through the TV show Les Dragons. Taillefer had called for a $15 minimum wage during the World Social Forum. Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire are also supporting this idea.

*Featured image credited to Chris Schwartz, Government of Alberta


The male birth control pill. We hear about it all the time, but it never seems any closer to becoming a reality. A recent Google News search cropped up almost a million results. Headlines like A Male Birth Control Option Promises to Be Available Within 5 YearsMale contraceptive pill ‘a step closer’ to hitting market and Birth Control for Men-It’s Loooooong Overdue flood the page.

I get it, the logic behind a male birth control pill makes sense. The contraceptive burden shouldn’t fall entirely on women, men should have a more substantial stake in family planning, the more available and accessible options, the better. Makes sense.

In a perfect world, where gender-parity means more than Trudeau’s gender-balanced cabinet — a largely symbolic move that attracted more applause than it did actually address gender inequity in Parliament — male contraception might even translate into fewer unplanned pregnancies, safer sex, you name it.

But the problem with the conversation around contraception for men is mostly frustrating: it ignores the power imbalances and patriarchal structures that make legislation and policy around women’s health so important in the first place.

Something like 99 per cent of women in the United States have used birth control methods at least once in their lives. And guess what, Canada doesn’t even record statistics on women’s contraception usage. As recently as 2013, Canadian researchers had to use American statistics to estimate trends in contraception.

Don’t let our lack of statistical analysis fool you, Canadian women are certainly still accessing contraception. Last year alone, the sexual health clinic at the Middlesex-London Health Unit provided nearly 28 000 low-cost contraceptives, including upwards of 500 doses of emergency contraception. But despite widespread usage, provincial health plans still do not fully cover birth control, because Canada remains the only country in the world with healthcare that does not cover pharmaceuticals. Most women access birth control through supplemental health insurance, provided by employers.

A recent Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) study found that most Canadian employers do not routinely cover the cost of contraception. Insurance coverage varies widely, and while some plans are comprehensive, there is no national standard for contraception coverage.

The Public Service Health Care Plan provides coverage for federal employees through Sun Life, but only covers oral contraceptives. The same plan provides up to $500 in reimbursement for erectile dysfunction drugs. Several plans omit birth control coverage altogether, including the supplemental insurance for employees of Save on Foods. For women without supplemental health coverage, especially women with precarious immigration status, the cost of unsubsidized birth control can be preventative.

The male birth control pill won’t do much to change that.

Why? Aside from the obvious legislative and policy implications, the real reason is that financial obstacles don’t just exist on the demand side of the equation. Birth control methods are expensive to research, develop, and test through clinical trials. And Big Pharma, an industry that spends over $635 million lobbying the United States Congress (which exceeds the amount spent by Wall Street and the oil and gas industry combined), hasn’t developed a new contraceptive method for women in decades.

Most of the new birth control methods available, like the IUD, were developed outside of the commercial sector and eventually bought by Big Pharma companies, who spent their money on marketing. In other words, the companies with the resources and finances to invest significant sums in women’s health prefer to sit back and wait until something pops up on the market that they can buy to expand their portfolios.

This is all to say that when healthcare in Canada finally provides some sort of comprehensive pharmacare plan, when Big Pharma starts spending more on developing better, more effective, and safer birth control options for women, when the Federal government starts to fully cover birth control, when all hospitals and schools are required to provide women and girls with access to birth control, then maybe we can start worrying about a male option.

Until then, the male birth control pill seems like just another way to put on our blinders, shirk our responsibility to ensure women have access to contraception, and, like always, turn our attention towards men.

* Featured image: YouTube


The National Energy Board cannot be allowed to review any projects until it’s completely reformed, pleaded 50 organizations in a letter sent to the Prime Minister on Wednesday. Signatories argue that the NEB has lost the legitimacy to approve massive pipelines like TransCanada’s Energy East or Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain.

“We are calling on you to put aside the fundamentally flawed work that has been done by the NEB to date. Overhaul the NEB, renew the confidence of Canadians in the federal government’s pipeline review process and, only after this has been accomplished, assess these projects in an atmosphere that is not plagued by the legacy of the Harper era.”

The letter is signed by multiple environmental activist groups, as well as the WestCoast Environmental Law Agency and the Aboriginal People’s Council.

Last week, the NEB was forced to suspend consultations on the Energy East Pipeline when it became clear that the concerns over the neutrality of its commission board were not about to die down.  The National Observer had previously revealed that two of the three commissioners on the board had covertly met with Jean Charest, then acting as a lobbyist for TransCanada.

The NEB first denied that it happened, then apologized for it but allowed the review to continue with all commissioners still on board. Last week, after protesters successfully disrupted the consultation in Montreal, the NEB agreed to suspend the Energy East consultations while they decide what to do with the two problematic commissioners.

A Band-aid over a bullet hole, claim the harsher critics of the NEB.

“Of course the board members who acted inappropriately should recuse themselves, but this will not solve the credibility gap that is plaguing the pipeline review process in Canada,” argues the letter.

The Problematic History of  the NEB

Misconduct of commissioners is not the NEB’s biggest problem; its entire history is. The National Energy Board Act is a 1985 reworking of legislation from the early sixties. It was meant to evaluate the safety and the practical matters of energy infrastructures. This only changed four years ago when Stephen Harper abolished the Environmental Assessment Agency and assigned the NEB to take over part of its duties.

It’s now clear that the NEB’s structure has failed to adapt to its new mission.

Commissioners of the NEB are politically appointed and many of them have been employed by oil businesses at some point in their careers.

Their public consultations are often criticized for their lack of accessibility. Anyone who wants to be heard must prove that they are directly affected by the project in question and register several months in advance.

The scope of their assessment is limited to direct consequences, which is in itself an archaic concept. Modern environmental assessments cannot refuse to consider impacts of oil production or tar sands development or of an increasingly oil-dependant national economy. All these matters are classified as upstream activities or downstream effects and as such, they are not considered by the NEB.

All of this might explain why the National Energy Board only rarely rejects a project. It had even approved (under 200 or so conditions) the Northern Gateway Pipeline, despite overwhelming opposition from the communities near its path. In fact, the appeals court later reversed their decision, judging that aboriginal communities had not been adequately consulted.

The NEB’s credibility is more than a little compromised. A CBC poll from last march suggests that 51% of Canadians have little or no confidence in the National Energy Board. People from Quebec and British Columbia, respectively affected by the Northern Gateway and Energy East, were most skeptical.

Just a couple of days ago, Ipolitics’ Chris Wood published a particularly scathing opinion piece on the matter: “The NEB is obsolete, an anachronism, a captive service agency for one particularly toxic, last-century industry, rather than a police force for the public interest. Increasingly, it’s also a laughingstock.”

“Modernization” in progress

The government recognized that the National Energy Board review process was facing a crisis of confidence long before the mess of the Energy East consultations. In fact, “restoring the population’s trust in the National Energy Board” was a key promise of the Liberal electoral platform.

An expert panel is already mandated to examine the National Energy Board’s functioning as part of a large review of environmental regulations launched this summer. They should provide the Ministry of Natural Resources with a report full of recommendations about how to modernize the NEB by January. These recommendations, if the government decides to listen to them (which is not a sure thing, history tells us), should be implemented by June 2018. Interim measures have been defined, but they do not seem to alter much of the process.

Meanwhile, the assessments of Energy East, Trans Mountain and other projects mostly piloted by NOVA Gas Transmission and Enbridge are allowed to go on unimpeded.

Environmental groups are pressing Trudeau to be consistent. Now that he has recognized that the NEB needs to be modernized, he should not allow it to take such major decisions until it is.

* Featured image from More Canada! Twitter


There has been quite a bit of talk about money in politics lately. Thanks in part to Bernie Sanders, we all know about the obscene amounts of money donated anonymously through SuperPacs to political candidates in the United States.

But the problem isn’t limited to the States, and it’s also not limited to major national campaigns. In fact, it has permeated even the most basic elements of our representative democracies.

There’s a phrase I saw, or rather re-saw, recently in a meme, and I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, now:

“If it’s inaccessible to the poor, it’s neither radical nor revolutionary.”

I have been trying to reconcile this with my long-held view that internet media can be revolutionary. There are good arguments both for and against the notion. When it comes to party politics, though, things become a little more cut and dry.

Application Fees for the Top Job

On Monday, Projet Montréal, arguably the most progressive political party in the city, officially began its search for a new leader. There were, of course, rules. Understandably, you have to be legally eligible to be a candidate for Mayor of Montréal (because that’s what the job essentially is) and you have to have already been a member of the party (fair play, considering they want to weed out people running just to disparage the party).

But there’s more: you also need to have previously donated at least $300 to the party and must raise between $5 000 and $30 000 during the campaign. Yes, there are financial requirements for prospective candidates.

On one hand, I understand that a City Councillor who owes their better-than-average paying job, in part, to a party, should give a little back. I also realize that for many, $300 isn’t all that much money.

However, these requirements limit the field to those who are already elected or have enough money lying around to make that $300 investment. If someone doesn’t, sure they can borrow it off their friend, but then they will be beholden to their friend. Sure, it’s not like owing Walmart or Imperial Oil, but it’s still owing a contributor.

When it comes to raising money during the campaign, it does make sense that a well-funded campaign will do better than a poorly funded one, so I imagine any candidate for leadership will try to raise money. But making it a requirement effectively works against someone who has an idea of another way to succeed (an excellent social media campaign, for example).

It’s not that foregoing raising funds in lieu of another approach will work. It’s that someone who has that idea should be given the chance to succeed or fail with it.

That said, you do not have to be a member of a political party to become Mayor, you can run as an independent. That’s not the case everywhere, though.

You Need to Lead a Party to be Prime Minister

The Federal NDP will also be holding its leadership race in the near future. The NDP also has rules for candidates wishing to enter (at this point, just proposed rules):

  1. Leadership hopefuls need to collect 500 signatures from party members in different regions of the country. Makes sense.
  2. Half those signatures need to be from “female-identified members” and 100 need to come from “other equity-seeking groups” which means visible minorities, Aboriginal Peoples, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. Yes, sure, absolutely. The more representative, the better.
  3. There is a $30 000 entry fee. Wait, what? Some people don’t make that in a year!

30 grand for a chance to be NDP Leader? That’s like taking three huge steps forward and then 30 000 steps back when it comes to inclusivity, especially when you consider that those the NDP is trying to include in the voting process are more likely to be those who can’t afford the leadership registration fee.

Former candidate Cheri DiNovo brought this issue to the forefront, refusing to officially enter the race and pay the fee. While she said she could probably raise the money, no candidate should have to in order to run.

And she’s absolutely correct. The only people who can afford to spend $30 000 on a job application when getting the job isn’t a sure thing (and a PM or MP’s salary isn’t either, even if you do get the job) are those who are already wealthy, are already elected officials, or those who know enough donors to raise the money from.


No matter how you cut it, there is a huge personal economic restriction placed on people not already part of the political process who want to throw their hat in the ring. Sure, anyone can get involved, but the limits to the higher levels aren’t based on experience, they’re based on personal finances.

And unlike municipal politics, you need to be the leader of a political party to become Prime Minister of Canada. Not sure what the other major parties charge to run for leader, but if the progressive, left NDP is any indication, PM is a job inaccessible to those who don’t have or can’t raise large sums of money.

Until someone with hardly any cash can successfully run for mayor or PM on a party ticket, party politics remain inaccessible to the poor and therefore cannot be considered radical or revolutionary.

dakota access pipeline protest

As the Sioux of Standing Rock persevere in their legal battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the promoters are resorting to violence to disperse peaceful protesters.

Energy Transfer Partners’s private security attacked the protesters with pepper spray and dogs on Saturday, near the camp set up by indigenous activists in Southern North Dakota. The same day, the company bulldozed sacred burial grounds on private land.

A video report from Democracy Now! shows a group of persons trying to disperse the crowd with dogs and pepper spray. We can see several protesters who have clearly been maced in the face and a man showing the bloody dog bite on his arm.

Activist Martie Simmons, who was present, tweeted that six protesters, including a pregnant woman were bitten. Four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured, according to the local Sheriff’s Office (Morton County). The nature of the injuries suffered by the dogs and the guards were undisclosed but eyewitnesses affirm that the dogs were out of control, and bit the guards too.

Police say they received no reports of injured protesters.The sheriff’s office confirmed there was no officers present at the confrontation.

Indigenous resistance to the DAPL

Standing Rock’s Sioux tribe has organized opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline ever since the project first became public two years ago. The trajectory of the pipeline is set to skim their reserve and cross the Missouri River twice, causing concerns about water contamination and protection of cultural heritage sites.

Thousands of indigenous people from the US and Canada responded to the call of the Sioux of Standing Rock and set up camps near the Missouri River. Over a hundred tribes are represented in what became known as the oil protest camps, what could be one of the biggest assemblies of Indigenous Peoples this century. Non-native activists also joined the ranks.

Meanwhile, the Sioux of Standing Rock are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for fast-tracking construction permits without consulting them.

The DAPL is a $4.88 billion pipeline that should conduct half a million barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline will be just under 1900 km long and run through four states.

According to the Chairman of the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock, Dave Archambault II, the pipeline threatens the lives of the people on the reserve and of the millions of people living downstream on the Missouri River, as well as ancestral Sioux sites.

“We never had an opportunity to express our concerns. This is a corporation that is bulldozing through,” Archambault told Democracy Now!.

His tribe is currently challenging the permits of Energy Transfer Partners in federal court on the grounds that the promoters did not adequately consult First Nations. They called for an emergency, temporary stopping of the construction on Tuesday, claiming that the company is already desecrating their burial sites. The federal court will announce its verdict on September 9th.

A Canadian Company

The DAPL is co-piloted by the American company Energy Transfer Partners and the Calgary-based Enbridge. Enbridge is no stranger to controversy, as it was recently forced by Canada’s federal court to give up on the Northern Gateway pipeline for similar reasons.

The $7.9 billion pipeline meant to export Albertan petroleum to the west coast had first been authorized by the Conservative government, despite the strong opposition of the native communities near its trajectory. However a federal appeal court revoked the permits in July, ruling that the Enbridge had not adequately consulted the affected aboriginal communities.

In 2015, Enbridge broke records by racking up $264 000 in fines from the National Energy Board, mostly because of safety and environmental hazards. However, the NEB ended up cancelling most of the fines due to lack of evidence.

Enbridge incidentally made the news today for acquiring Spectra Energy. The $37 billion transaction, if it is approved by appropriate authorities, could make Enbridge the biggest player on the North American market of energy infrastructure.

projet montreal logo

Projet Montréal is now officially searching for a new leader. So if you want to throw your proverbial hat in the ring to become the next head of the Official Opposition party in City Hall, you have until mid October to do so.

That is, provided you are already a member of the party. Leadership candidates can only be people who are registered members of Projet Montréal as of today, a move presumably to stop haters from messing the party up from the inside.

To run for leader, you also need to be eligible to be a candidate for Mayor of Montreal (understandably), plus you would have had to have made a donation of at least $300 to the party. You also need to raise at least $5000 in donations from members and non members, with leadership run expenses capped at $30 000.

If you want to vote for the leader instead of becoming the party boss, it’s a little more affordable and you have a bit more time.  You need to already be a member or sign up as one by November 4th. Former members who haven’t renewed for over a year have until November 19th to do so if they want a say in who will challenge Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre in 2017. One year Projet Montréal memberships cost $10.

Luc Ferrandez officially kicked off the contest today with a press conference and video. The Plateau Borough Mayor became Interim Leader of Projet Montréal in October 2014 but has already announced that he won’t be seeking the party’s top job on a permanent basis. Saint-Édouard City Councillor François Limoges is the only declared candidate so far.

This is Projet Montréal’s first leadership race. Co-founder Richard Bergeron had led the party since its inception in 2004, taking it from one elected city councillor (himself) to Official Opposition status. Bergeron quit the party shortly after the 2013 Montreal Municipal Election to sit as an independent and be part of Coderre’s Executive Committee.

The Projet Montréal Leadership Election will be a Universal Ballot and take place at a special convention on  December 4th, 2016.