Panelists Samantha Gold and Jerry Gabriel discuss Just for Laughs 2017 with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup, Community Calendar and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: Racial insensitivity at the St-Jean Baptiste Parade, Jeremy Corbyn at Glastonbury and Ron Howard taking over the Han Solo movie

Panelists:

Samantha Gold: FTB’s Legal Columnist covering Just for Laughs

Jerry Gabriel: FTB Contributor covering Just for Laughs

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Production Assistant: Xavier Richer Vis

JFL Report: Hannah Besseau

Weather: Cem Ertekin

Recorded Sunday June 25 2017 in Montreal, Quebec

LISTEN:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

In a Sud Ouest Special, panelists Andrew MacDonald and David DesBaillets discuss FolkFest, the changing face of SouthWest Montreal, Barack Obama’s visit and more with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup, Community Calendar, Lat Night’s Weather and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: UK Elections, New Conservative Leader, RIP Adam West

Panelists:

Andrew MacDonald: Musician, Sud Ouest resident
David DesBaillets: Legal student, political pundit, former Sud Ouest resident

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Production Assistant: Xavier Thomas

Matt Large/FolkFest interview by Hannah Besseau

Recorded June 11, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec

LISTEN:

WATCH:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

After years of tax exemptions, the religious communities in the City of Montreal are facing big tax bills. It has recently come to light that once exempt institutions like the Cote des Neiges Presbyterian Church are receiving tax bills from the City. Inspectors from the City of Montreal are now visiting churches more regularly, taking pictures and noting how every space in the church is used.

Municipal property inspections are nothing new. It’s how the City of Montreal assesses how to tax you and for how much. Religious institutions, however, are the exception.

According to the Quebec Act Respecting Municipal Taxation, a property “in the name of a religious institution… used by it or gratuitously by another religious institution… not to derive income but in the immediate pursuit of the religious or charitable objects” is exempt from all municipal or school property taxes. That means that as long as a given space is owned by a religious institution and is used exclusively for worship or other religious ends, it is considered to be exempt from property taxes.

The problem is that many religious institutions in Montreal don’t use their property exclusively for worship, hosting vital community organizations in available spaces within their buildings. The tax bills and increased inspections likely mean that the City is interpreting the law more strictly so that they can tax houses of worship for the spaces they don’t use for religious services and prayer.

The City of Montreal claims that they are simply trying to prevent people from defrauding the system, but not everyone agrees.

M, an expert on municipal assessments and taxation, said that they’re doing it because it will result in tax revenue from sources that weren’t providing any tax revenue before.

I asked M what the municipal assessors would be looking for when deciding how much to tax a religious institution.

“Proof that there are parts of a church that aren’t being used for worship,” he replied.

A room used for worship is tax exempt, a room used for anything else would hypothetically be subject to taxation.
I asked M if the City could tax some parts of a house of worship while exempting other parts of the same building from taxation.

“They can split the assessment, and they do. I’ve seen it before. They can send a bill that indicates the taxable portion and the non-taxable portion,” he said.

That begs the question as to whether facilities that while not used exclusively for worship, would be considered an essential part of any building, let alone a church. Though people rarely worship while on the toilet, for example, it should be considered an essential part of any space’s facilities and subject to any exemptions tied to a given space.

Though some have praised the City’s move to start taxing religious institutions as an assertion of the separation of church and state and a break for taxpayers, there is reason to believe the move will come at the expense of community organizations.

NDG City Councilor Peter McQueen points out that important community groups in NDG such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, as well as the NDG Food Depot and the NDG Community Council rely on the City’s churches to provide spaces for them to meet. He explained that this is because historically the churches were involved in charity work separate from the state.

I asked McQueen how he felt these groups would be affected by the new taxation rules.

“Terrible! I mean, if these groups had to leave the churches they’d be in a major quandary here in NDG.”

He said that if these groups had to find other places to meet, the City would have to step up and meet the demand. Currently in Cote des Neiges and NDG most community spaces are used for sports or borough offices. Houses of worship have until now been filling the need for spaces for these community groups to meet, but that may change with the new taxation rules.

At the end of the day, the issue comes down to one of money.

Will this move by the City of Montreal make the City more money, or cost it money in the long run?

Peter McQueen thinks it will end up costing the City, as it will have to step up to meet the demand for community meeting spaces that had previously been filled by the churches.

M thinks the City may choose to simply not fill that need, which would come at the expense of the community that relies on these groups to help the needy and provide safe activities for their children.

There is the additional risk that some congregations may fold altogether under the new taxation rules, as their dwindling flocks and basic expenses put houses of worship in the red before they ever see a tax bill. They can always contest the tax assessments in court, and there will likely be legal challenges if there are enough tax dollars involved.

At the end of the day, it will be the community that pays for this.

With the summer concert season just around the corner and more and more people heading out to shows, we’ve decided to keep this week’s suggestions simple. All shows are tomorrow (Saturday) and we even have your brunch covered. Let’s get started:

Yes No Toaster: Brunch Concert with La Famille Ouellette

On Saturday morning IndieMontreal will be putting on another installment of their brunch concert series in conjunction with Festival Vue sur la Relève. This time it will feature La Famille Ouellette, a Montreal based indie-pop-rock ensemble consisting of six “brothers” who broke on the scene last year when they won the 2016 installment of the Francouvertes.

If you’re unfamiliar with the event, the concept is pretty simple: you go over to Divan Orange where there’s a brunch buffet and while you chow down you get to hear some killer live music. They’re expecting to sell out so it’s best to get your ticket in advance, details below.

La Famille Ouellette play Divan Orange, 4234 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Saturday, May 13th, 12:00 pm (Doors at 11:30am), $22 in advance through IndieMontreal, $27 at the door.

 

Laura Marling

On Saturday night British Folk singer/songwriter Laura Marling will be at Théâtre Corona as part of a tour in support of her new album Semper Feminina which was released in March. Her sound is most known for captivating lyrics, beautiful melodies and song arrangements that break the stereotypes of traditional folk.

Marling has been garnering success and accolades since she broke on the British music scene back in 2006. At present she’s not as well known on this side of the pond so if you’re unfamiliar with her work here’s a small sample.

Laura Marling plays Théâtre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame Ouest, Saturday, May 13th, 8:00 pm (Doors at 7:o0 pm), $28 in advance through box office, $31 at the door.

 

Hot Flash Heat Wave

Also on Saturday night you can head over to Casa Del Popolo where San Franciso based dream-pop-rockers Hot Flash Heat Wave will be stopping in. Set to release their second album Soaked on June 2nd this will be a great way to check out some brand new tracks.

If you’re not familiar with the band then check out their soundcloud page for a great sample of their tunes. The video for the single Gold Years is already out as well, so give it a listen!

Hot Flash Heat Wave play Casa Del Popolo, 4848 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Saturday, May 13th, 8:00 pm, $10 available through lfttckt.

* Featured image of La Famille Ouellette courtesy of IndieMontreal

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Pierrefonds-Roxboro is one of the three Montreal boroughs under state of emergency, but you certainly wouldn’t know it from walking on the dry and clean parts of Pierrefonds Boulevard, where even the buses still run on time. Nothing to indicate the multiple disastrous and somewhat surreal sights that await only a couple of blocks down: entire streets flooded, picturesque houses and vehicles immersed in eerily still water, piles of sandbags scattered like battle fortifications.

Everyday, residents stop by the disaster area, anxiously appraising the situation from their cars or going as far as their rain boots allow to check on their property. For some, it’s been weeks since the water started seeping into their houses, others are still warily surveying the changing levels of the river, praying it won’t reach their doorstep.

Early Tuesday evening, the first signs that the water has – ever so slightly – receded, elicited cautious relief in many of them. However, everyone knows that even if the weather remains stable, they are still in for a long wait before the river returns to its bed and they can start to assess the actual damages.

One man, who wishes to only be identified as a “directly affected citizen of Pierrefonds” stopped to take in the striking sight of a half-drowned mailbox, which despite being a few meters away from the Gouin Boulevard, now looks as if someone made the odd choice of planting it in the middle of a lake.

“Terrible, isn’t it?” he said, his expression grim. “Everything we do to Nature, you know, there comes a point when she can’t absorb it anymore and then she sends this back.” For him, Pierrefonds’ woes trace back to a far larger issue: climate change.

“It will be necessary for people to understand the gravity of the situation. And watching a little TV, you see it’s not only Canada and Quebec that are affected. There are many countries in the world that live through the same situation, and they don’t always have the resources we do.”

The water had thankfully not reached his house yet, but, despite the first timid signs of improvement, he remained anxious. “If it rains, even one more day, I’m directly threatened,” he explained. He bought a water pump during the week-end “just in case.”

A few streets away, Maria** and her adult son were looking for their canoe to go check on their property. Originally from Poland, she and her two children had bought a brand new house here, on Vaudeville Street, only five years ago. Their beloved home has been flooded since last Friday. Like many of their neighbours, they were woken up by the army at five AM and told they had to get out, and quickly.

They are currently living in a nearby hotel with the help of the Red Cross. Last time they checked, the water was up to their chests in the basement. To say the least, stress has taken its toll. “It’s panic attacks and sometimes, you can’t sleep at night,” confided the mother.

She was not alone to breathe a sigh of relief when she noticed the few inches of wet asphalt, indicating that the water had slightly withdrawn. Still, her worry was palpable. “I look at the water and I tremble,” she admitted.

Nonetheless, just like the mailbox-watcher, they were thinking of those even less fortunate than them.“You always have to think of those who have it worse than you,” Maria said. “There are a lot of elderly people living here,” her son added.

Civilians and officials

Police officers guard the flooded streets to make sure that no one has the bad idea of trying to pass through with their car, or the heartlessness to rob the deserted homes. The firefighters, the army and many volunteers are also present to lend a hand to whomever needs it.

“[The officers] are doing what they can, but they have a different point of view because it’s their job, you know; we’re their clients,” Maria’s son observed.

His mother agreed but sighed: “This tragedy, it’s not theirs inside and when you see two policemen laughing and talking, it’s hard to welcome them.” According to her, it’s the Red Cross that is their ultimate life-saver. They provided them with a hotel room, a meal allocation, and even some money to buy clothes.

Maria found one thing to be happy about in this ordeal: a new sense of solidarity in the community: “We became like a big family with the people on the street, because everybody helps each other and we are all in the same hotel. Before that, we didn’t know each other.”

Indeed, everywhere you looked, there was a little cluster of neighbours chatting, asking for news and offering help. One man was making the rounds with his own canoe to help other people around the flooded streets whenever they needed to get something from home or just to check that it’s still standing. One of the policemen asked him to go check up on one of the rare residents who was still inside his house: “He’s been there for a while, see if he needs anything.”

Still, Maria reflected with a sad smile, “We shouldn’t need to have a tragedy to be together.”

State of emergency prolonged

By Wednesday afternoon, the water had significantly receded in the Montreal area. However the level of the Saint-Lawrence remains worrying near Quebec City and the Mauricie region. Nobody is out of the woods yet, since various amounts of rain are expected all over the province during the next few days.

The state emergency which is meant to allow the municipalities to mobilize staff and resources more efficiently is still in place in several areas including in Laval and Montreal.

As of Wednesday night, there was a total of 3301 people evacuated and 4141 houses flooded throughout Quebec. 166 municipalities were still affected.

The government has promised to deploy all the necessary staff on the field as well as financial aid for the affected citizens. However, the people of Pierrefonds and other flooded municipalities will also need all the solidarity they can get, not only form their own communities, but from all of us.

* Photos by Mirna Djukic

**Probably not her real name. Due to the engaging and organic nature of the conversation, this detail was lost. If her or her son read this and would like us to correct the record, please contact forgetthebox@forgetthebox.net and we will update the article

Well it looks like those April showers brought May… urrrr more showers. Not to worry, there’s plenty of great stuff to do inside this weekend. Here’s two options for tonight and one for tomorrow for you to consider.

Jaimie Branch Quartet + Jane/KIN

Head over to La Vitrola tonight where Suoni Per Il Popolo and CKUT are putting on an evening of jazz music featuring trumpet player Jaimie Branch who is set to release her debut album Fly or Die today. Based in New York, by way of Chicago, Branch is known mostly for her improvised and experimental style of jazz.

Translation: a live concert is a great way to get to know her music. Any performance that isn’t fully scripted always has a certain type electricity flowing through it because you’re basically seeing something that’s unique to that moment.

Jaimie Branch Quartet and Jane/KIN play La Vitrola, 4602 Boulevard St. Laurent, Friday, May 5th, 8:30pm (Doors at 8:00pm), $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

 

Shana Falana + Abrdeen + Femme Accident

Over at Turbo Haüs tonight will be Kingston NY’s own Shana Falana, local act Femme Accident and Quebec City based Abrdeen who are having the Montreal leg of their launch party for their debut album Endless Nights and Dreamlike Mornings which came out on April 7th. Abrdeen describes themselves as “soft make-out rock” and if you give a few tracks a listen it’s obvious they know perfectly well how to define their sound.

If I had to pick one word to describe this lineup as a whole it would be dreamy. Expect a ton of reverb, laid back vocals and the constant feeling that you’re floating over top of the stage. A great all natural and perfectly legal way to feel nice and high.

Shana Falana, Abrdeen and Femme Accident play Turbo Haüs, 5011 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Friday, May 5th, 9:00pm, $10.

 

Black Salvia + Art the band + Ignatius + Calomine

Saturday night you can check out this week’s winner for coolest band name Art: The Band who will be bringing their mix of jazz, math rock, hip hop and about ten other genres I don’t know the names for to the Crobar stage. This Toronto based quintet has a sound all to their own and would be perfect for someone looking for a show that’s outside the mainstream.

Also on the bill are Black Salvia, Ignatius and Calomine making this quite the full evening of music. Considering you get to see four bands for only $5 this is our hands down show pick of the week for the financially challenged.

Black Salvia, Art the band, Ignatius and Calomine play Crobar, 1221 Crescent Street, Saturday, May 6th, 9:00pm, $5.

* Featured image of Art the Band via BandCamp

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

In a room in the iconic Monument-National on St Laurent Boulevard, press gathered in anticipation. Festival Season is coming in Montreal and Just for Laughs was ready to announce its long awaited lineup for the 2017 comedy festival.

This year is a special one for Just for Laughs as it marks the 35th anniversary of a comedy festival that helped launch the careers of everyone from Demetri Martin to Amy Schumer. Every year the people behind the festival, including its veterans, do their best to bring in top comedic talent from around the world and give new faces a shot at fame.

This year is no exception.

The biggest names on the ticket this year have to be American comic legend Jerry Seinfeld and French comedian Gad Elmaleh, who is the most beloved comedian in Europe right now. Elmaleh has recently begun doing comedy in English with great success. Seinfeld’s appearance at Just for Laughs will be his first since 1989. For one special night at the Bell Center on July 28th, the two will share the stage in honor of the festival’s anniversary.

Africa’s most successful comedian Trevor Noah will also be performing this year. Since he took over as host of The Daily Show in 2015, he has done some of the most scathingly successful critiques of current events and of the US President and his government of racist, misogynist, classists. If you’ve ever watched any of Trevor Noah’s comedy specials, his style of soft-spoken yet biting social commentary peppered with hilarious impressions promises that any show he’s in will be special.

Writer and Director of Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin Judd Apatow has chosen Montreal as the venue for his new stand-up show which will be recorded live for Netflix during the festival. Transgender actress, model and advocate (plus my second favourite Frank n’ Furter) Laverne Cox will be hosting her own gala, as will SNL veteran David Spade.

The lineup of Canadian talent this year seems to favor comedians from Newfoundland. Among them, we have ranter and political satirist Rick Mercer, who will be hosting a gala. Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes will be hosting Homegrown Comics, a staple event at the festival featuring Canadian up and comers in standup comedy. The only Central Canadian names this year are Howie Mandel and Montreal’s own Sugar Sammy, who is the festival’s special guest.

A smiling Sammy took the podium this morning to express his gratitude to a festival that launched his career so quickly he found himself riding the bus to his own show with his fans back in the day. He jokingly told the press that he’d promised himself he’d take a fancy car to Just for Laughs once he got rich and famous, but ended up taking the metro today due to Montreal construction. His gala will feature international standup comedians.

Just for Laughs veteran Kevin Hart is doing what he can to promote young talent via Laugh Out Loud Network Presents: Just For Laughs Eat My Shorts. The initiative between Hart and Just For Laughs will feature shorts submitted by various filmmakers. Twenty films that speak to a diverse audience will eventually be chosen to stream on the LOL website and a panel consisting of Hart and other judges will select the top five for a screening at the Imperial Theatre. A winner will be selected that night and Hart will present them with a development deal followed by a Q&A session.

The Nasty Show is for me the best part of Just for Laughs. It’s the show where comedians, by their own admission, can let loose and tell jokes without having to worry about offending anyone. The lineup for this year’s Nasty Show features the master of British snark, Jimmy Carr, as well as Godfrey, Robert Kelly, and Big Jay Oakerson. What are suspiciously absent from this lineup are female comedians, though whether this is deliberate or accidental is unclear, though it’s not for lack of talent. Anyone who thinks women can’t do filthy comedy is welcome to google Lisa Lampanelli, Margaret Cho, Sarah Silverman, or Paula Bel, to name a few.

The Ethnic Show is the festival’s way of fighting racism and breaking down cultural barriers through laughter. The host this year is Iranian-American Maz Jobrani who is joined by Jewish American Jessica Kirson, Korean Irish-American Steve Byrne, and the Dominican Vlad Caamaño among others. The Ethnic Show is the show for cultural criticism and self-deprecating ethnic humor that feels less offensive because it’s made by comedians of those backgrounds.

In addition to festival staples, Just for Laughs is introducing some new attractions. New Faces: Creators features people contributing to the “evolution of the comedy landscape” via digital content creation. Also new to the festival is Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch recognizing the talents of stand-up comedians, sketch artists, and web content creators impacting the comedy industry this year.

For those who shun the mainstream, there’s always OFF-JFL and Zoofest which feature over sixty shows in intimate venues all over the city. The more risqué nature of the shows and the fact that tickets are generally cheaper makes this a great option for those of us who are broke. OFF-JFL regular Andy Kindler will host the Alternative Show, while The Lucas Bros return for more laughs. Other comedians in this series include Vir Das, Cristela Alonzo, and Barry Rothbart, to name a few.

With the tense socio political climate in North America, Just For Laughs is the kind festival we need more than ever. It’s not just because we all need a good laugh; it’s because if anyone can call bullshit on the worst behaviors of our leaders to keep them in check, it’s comedians. The best comedians shine when things are bad so if current events are any indication, it’s going to be a GREAT festival this year!

Ticket info can be had at hahaha.com

It’s Saturday, it’s beautiful outside and you’re sitting there trying to figure out what to do tonight. The Habs are out of the playoff, there aren’t any festivals going on and getting into a twitter war with climate change deniers is just not as much fun as it used to be.

Well as luck would have it there is still a world that exists outside your front door and in it there are live bands who will perform for you at very reasonable prices. Here’s are two such options for you to consider.

 

Goldfish

One of the most interesting stories I’ve read in a long time is that of mid-nineties Montreal based indie-rock band Goldfish who broke up back in 1996 right before releasing their debut album. As someone who is too young to have ever heard them live, the only frame of reference I have are the few tracks I can find online.

From this handful of recordings one question immediately comes to mind. Why the hell did you break up? Everything about their sound still holds up now and would have spoken right to the heart of all those disillusioned Gen X-ers.

Well as it turns out, 21 years later they’ve decided to reunite to finish what they started. Their “debut album” Predictions Of The Future will be released on May 21st.

If you want an early listen you can head over to Bar Le Ritz PDB tonight for a live performance and album launch party. This might be your only chance to hear them live since none of the band live in the same city anymore and getting together probably won’t be a regular thing.

 

Goldfish plays Bar Le Ritz PDB, 179 Rue Jean-Talon-Ouest, Saturday, April 29th, 8:00pm, $12-14 available through tixza.

Walrus + Miesha & The Spanks + HotKid

You can get you indie rock fix over at L’espace des Mêmes where Walrus, Miesha & The Spanks and HotKid will be playing as part of an Analogue Addiction and CJLO showcase. All three of these Canadian bands are currently on spring tours through the nation with fresh albums either just released or set to come out very soon.

Calgary based duo (and coolest band name of the week winners) Miesha & The Spanks are garage rock heaven, the perfect mix of grit, riffs and raw vocals. So what are you waiting for my friend? Put some damn pants on, text up some friends and head on out.

Walrus, Miesha & The Spanks and HotKid play L’espace des Mêmes, 6464 Boulevard St Laurent, Saturday, April 29th, 9:00pm, $8.

* Featured image of Miesha & The Spanks by Trevor Hatter

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

On April 13, 2017 the Orange Racist Misogynist US President’s Mar-a-Lago resort was found to have at least thirteen health violations.

This article is not about the current US President, who seems to waste too much time at a resort that improperly disposes of fish parasites and stores food on rusty shelves, thus causing health risks to his fellow wealthy white male gasbags.

This article is about food safety.

Anyone who has endured severe nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea after what seemed to be a safe and pleasant restaurant meal knows that food poisoning and food safety are no laughing matter. Food poisoning can cause hours or even days of discomfort and in some cases, even death. It is for this reason that food safety is so important.

In Canada, food safety is a major priority and every food-related industry is affected. Since the process of food inspection spans farming to fisheries to restaurants to the production of processed foods, this article is going to focus specifically on restaurant and food service safety and inspection.

Food safety and inspections relating to restaurants and food services in Canada are generally handled by the provincial authorities, though when there’s a big city involved, the provinces often delegate to municipal authorities, as in the case in Quebec.

In Quebec, restaurant and food safety is handled by primarily by the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pecheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ). MAPAQ delegates responsibility for food safety inspections in Montreal to the City of Montreal’s department of food inspection. Both organizations must enforce the Quebec Food Products Act.

The Quebec Food Products Act is a law that covers basic food safety in the province of Quebec. It defines food as anything that can be used to feed man or animals, including beverages but excluding anything alcoholic, which falls under the Act respecting the Société des alcools du Québec. Ice and bottled water are also considered food as per the act if they are intended for sale by volume or for preserving or preparing food. This information is not only useful for those charged with enforcing the law, but also handy for anyone arguing with a loved one about whether or not their favorite snack food is actually “real food”.

The term “restaurateur” as per the act refers to anyone who serves or sells meals or refreshments for consumption. This includes operators of schools and establishments governed by the Act respecting health services and social services, the Act respecting health services and social services for Cree Native persons, the Act respecting the Québec correctional system, and the Government and their departments or agencies.

The rules for food safety as per the Act are clear.

No one can prepare, keep for sale, purchase, sell, and resale or give as promotional items food that is unfit for human consumption, so deteriorated as to be unfit for human consumption, or if the safety of the food is “uncertain”.

Facilities used for food preparation and the vehicles used to transport it must be clean and sanitized. Machinery used in food preparation must be in good working order, designed for their intended use, and permit the cleaning and disinfecting of the machine when necessary. People involved in food preparation must comply with hygiene and sanitation rules prescribed by government regulations.

The City of Montreal’s Food Inspection Department has been around since 1927 and is now charged with enforcing the Act in the city. Their team of forty inspectors works to protect food consumers by ensuring the quality and safety of food prepared in restaurants, retail establishments, and in the transformation, preparation, storage, and distribution of food sectors. The City’s food inspection team is also responsible for temporary establishments, such as food stands set up for special events like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Grand Prix, and Just for Laughs.

The job of the inspectors is to inspect food and food related businesses and activities in terms of health risks and safety. They can also advise food business operators on good food safety practices, and conduct food quality and safety analyses.

As they have been charged by MAPAQ with enforcing the Act, the City’s food inspectors can charge and impose penalties on those in violation of the Food Products Act, which consist of fines ranging from two hundred and fifty dollars to two thousand dollars for a first offense, with fines increasing for every subsequent offense.

The City often imposes fines in response to complaints, which can be made by anyone witnessing unsanitary conditions at a restaurant or retail food seller, or following the consumption of food at an establishment that made the person sick. You can either phone in a complaint at 514-280-4300, or fill in an online form available at the City of Montreal’s website. In order to successfully submit a complaint online, all you need to provide are your name and contact info, the name and address of establishment, and the date and a brief description of the incident. The information provided is considered confidential and once a complaint is received, the City inspectors should respond within twenty-four hours.

Want to try a new restaurant or café but doubtful of its cleanliness? The City of Montreal has a page allowing you to see if a place has previously been cited for food safety violations. You can search for it according to the name of the place, the address, the street, city, or type of business. Just remember that a previous citation for health violations doesn’t necessarily mean the place is not up to code now.

The City of Montreal gets about 1900 complaints a year for everything from unclean conditions, to spoiled food, to vermin, to illness following food consumption. In a city that thrives on vibrant restaurant culture, food safety is a major priority, so don’t be afraid to give them a call the next time your food makes you sick.

* Featured image by Michela Simoncini, Creative Commons

Montreal will invest $3.6 million over two years in a brand new institute dedicated to developing electric and smart transportation. This investment is part of the city’s efforts as a member of the C40, the Cities Climate Leadership Group.

The Institute of Electrification and Smart Transportation will have three main mandates: favouring cooperation between regional partners for research and development of sustainable transportation, establishing international partnerships and stimulating the commercialization of new technologies. It will be situated in the Quartier de l’innovation. The École des technologies supérieures (ÉTS) , McGill University, Concordia and UQÀM are all expected to partner in the project.

“The Institute will make use of Montreal’s assets as a city of innovation to galvanize efforts and knowledge, and shine on the international scene,” Mayor Denis Coderre claimed in a press release. The announcement was made on Wednesday, during the 52nd Congress of the Association québécoise des transports.

The Mayor’s office claims this is an “important step in the realization of [their] ambitious strategy for the electrification of transport.” Indeed, the creation of the institute is one of the 10 points of the 2016-2020 Strategy for electrification and smart transportation outlined last summer.

Other measures put forward in the plan include exchanging city vehicles for electrical cars, electrification of public transit and developing a second, purely economic plan to encourage the local development of the electric transportation sector.

However, the opposition at City Hall is not too impressed with the new institute. Projet Montréal’s transport critic Craig Sauvé says that they have seen no serious plan or content backing up the announcement.

“That’s pretty much the Coderre style,” he observed, “announce a project that will most likely garner positive headlines but without doing any substantive groundwork before the announcement.”

Although Sauvé admits that the city’s efforts for electrification are a good thing overall, he believes it is a short-sighted strategy.

“The Coderre administration is very car-focused,” he claimed, “they still have this vision that is out of the 1950’s!”

According to Sauvé, the city should put more money into better bike lanes, urban planning and public transit in order to reduce the number of cars on the road.

“You can electrify everything you want, but it won’t solve the traffic, it won’t solve the pollution still created by the production of new cars and road networks,” he argued.

FTB contacted the city’s executive committee for further comments, but was still waiting for a reply at publication time.

Mayor Coderre announced earlier this week that the city is investing at least $24 million in Formula E, a major international car race featuring only electric cars. The event will be held downtown on July 29th and 30th. The Coderre administration hopes that it will serve as publicity for electric and smart transportation in Montreal and boost the city’s status as a leader in climate action.

Back in November 2013, the government of Quebec had promised $35 million for the creation of a province-wide institute with the same purpose. Many cities were interested in hosting it. The promise did not survive the change of government.

 

* Featured image: electric cars in Berlin, Germany, all credits to Avda, Berlin – Potsdamer Platz – E-Mobility-Charging, CC BY-SA 3.0

Hope you have an umbrella because in between all the rainstorms it looks like we’ve got another great week of music ahead of us. Here are some of your options for the next seven days.

John K. Samson +  Michael Feuerstack

On Thursday singer/songwriter John K. Samson is playing a show at Théâtre Fairmount in support of his second album Winter Wheat released last October. While his career as a solo artist is fairly new, you might know John as the frontman of Canadian Indie rock band The Weakerthans who were part of the Canadian music scene from 1997 until they decided to go on hiatus in 2014.

Joining Samson will be local talent Michael Feuerstack who has also been in the game for quite a while now under a different name. You might know him as Snailhouse, the moniker he used for a number of years before re-branding to his real name.

Regardless of the labels they’re currently going by, both these guys create great music with memorable lyrics. Give a listen to the track Postdoc Blues off John’s latest album to see what I mean.

John K. Samson and Michael Feuerstack play Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Avenue du Parc, Thursday, April 6th, 8:30pm (Doors at 7:30), $25 to $20 +s.c available through the box office.

 

Allison Crutchfield and The Fizz + Vagabon + Empath

Also on Thursday you can stop by La Vitrola for an evening of Indie Rock presented by Suoni Per Il Popolo and CKUT with three great acts from south of the border in the form of Allison Crutchfield and the FizzVagabon and Empath.

Headliner Allison Crutchfield’s latest album Tourist in This Town was released in January and it’s really worth a listen all the way through. Or just go to the show and you can get the live version!

 Allison Crutchfield and The Fizz, Vagabon and Empath play La Vitrola, 4602 Boulevard St. Laurent, Thursday, April 6th, 9:00pm, $12 available through the box office.

 

Carlos Núñez

Sunday night Nuits d’Afrique will be hosting an evening with Spanish bagpiper Carlos Núñez who is coming to town for the last stop on his springtime tour through North America. The Galician multi-instrumentalist is well known for breaking down barriers between music styles. Most commonly associated with playing Celtic music, Núñez’s songs also draw heavily on his Latin roots and classical music.

This tour is also a celebration of Carlos’s illustrious career. It’s been twenty years since the release of his debut album Brotherhood of Stars and since then there has been no slowing down. He’s released an impressive ten more albums and done countless tours all over the globe in that time.

Carlos Núñez plays Théâtre Fairmount, 5240 Avenue du Parc, Sunday, April 9th, 8:30pm, $38.40 available through the box office.

 

North Country Towers + Isaak Salomon + Eva Foote

On Sunday Casa Del Popolo will be hosting folk performers North Country Towers who invite you to enjoy the nice spring weather (I guess they like rain) we’ve been having and come see a show. Actually Sunday is supposed to be the one sunny day this week so the thought of getting out of the house and seeing three acts for only eight bucks seems like a great way to spend the day.

North Country Towers, Isaak Salomon and Eva Foote Casa play Casa del Popolo, 4848 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Sunday, April 9th, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:30), $8 available at the door.

L O S

For those who don’t want to go home Sunday, you can just stay at Casa Del Popolo till Monday night when Quebec City based band L O S will be playing in support of their recently released first album Big Surf. When the word “Surf” is in the title of an album, it’s hard to prevent certain preconceptions of what it’s going to sound like to pop into your head. In this case you’d be dead wrong.

The vibe of Big Surf is a lot more mellow than you’d expect from a musical standpoint and a lot deeper and sophisticated in terms of the lyrics. Give them a listen and if it’s your thing then head down on Monday, tickets are only five dollars!

L O S plays Casa del Popolo, 4848 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Monday, April 10th, 9:00pm, $5 available at the door.

* Featured image of Alison Crutchfield via Twitter

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Angélique, the story of the black slave tortured and put to death in New France (later Montreal, Quebec) for allegedly setting the fire of 1734 that burned down the only hospital and left hundreds of people homeless, is most remarkable for the fact that so few Canadians know about this incendiary incident in Montreal’s history.

It’s a story with everything: chaos, love triangles, danger, a woman’s determined quest for freedom.

Yet, despite these features that make Angélique a perfect candidate for telling and re-telling, like many stories of slavery in Canada’s history, and many narratives sympathetic to disadvantaged people of colour, the story of Marie-Joseph Angelique has been largely ignored until very recently.

In fact, the play currently being billed as the first collaboration between Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau d’Hote Théâtre, is the first time this story has been presented on stage in Montreal, the city where the true story took place. It is running from March 15th to April 2nd at the Segal Center.

Angélique is the story of the strong-willed black slave tortured and put to death for allegedly starting the fire of 1734, which burned down the majority of what is now Old Montreal. Though it was generally accepted that Angelique did commit the crime for which she was accused, it has recently been argued that she was innocent, convicted on the basis of her reputation as a rebellious runaway and hard-to-control slave. The evidence used to convict Angelique would not stand up in a modern court of law.

“I am a very proud Canadian, and a very proud Montréaler, but I don’t think we are doing ourselves any favours by not acknowledging the bad along with the good in history,” says Black Theatre workshop artistic director Quincy Armorer. “I’ve noticed this play is educating a lot of people about some of the forgotten or ignored times in Canadian and Montreal history, and I am very, very happy to be a part of letting people know this happened here.”

Mathieu Murphy-Perron, artistic director for Tableau d’Hote Theater, agrees: “As someone who generally tries to be aware of where we live and the land we are on, and the fact that it’s stolen land, and Canada is not the land of milk and honey…to have zero-ZERO-knowledge of this show, it spoke to our educational shortcomings of telling the stories that make up this city, Quebec and Canada”

“I didn’t even know about this before,” adds Jenny Brizard, the lead and title actress of Angélique “They didn’t talk about slavery in Canada at all when I was in school.”

Having left her native Montreal to pursue a career as a dancer in Toronto, Ms. Brizard has returned in a blaze of glory with a breakout performance as the title character in Angélique. This is her first professional acting role, and though the performance seemed a little manic at times, this is certainly fitting as an artistic choice for a character under an incredible amount of mental, emotional and physical stress.

Speaking of artistic direction, the costuming decisions in this production were extremely powerful, working as an additional layer of social commentary. ‘Upper class’ members of society began the production dressed in contemporary business wear, and ended the production dressed in 1730s period clothing. Conversely, slaves began the production in period clothing and ended the production in contemporary street wear, or in Angelique’s case, an orange prison outfit.

The closing images of a modern black woman being put to death for a crime, with no evidence that she had committed it, while being looked upon by people stuck in the past, were extremely powerful and speaks to the ongoing issues with class and race that still exist today. The play ended with Angelique hearing the drums of her homeland (drums were banned in New France in an effort to sever slaves from their culture) and dancing her heart out in the traditional style of her childhood, which she had been previously embarrassed and nervous to display in New France.

The musical backdrop of Angélique was completely percussion based, set to an original composition by SIXTRUM Percussion Ensemble. The use of drums served as a clever musical allegory for Angelique’s struggle and personal erasure, due to the nature of the importance of drum music in Angelique’s internal life and history versus their ban in New France.

When Angélique is first introduced at a slave purchasing block, thick chains were used as an instrument by SIXTRUM, who were playing above the stage. It was fresh, creative, and enhanced the narrative.

Though the script, written by the late Lorena Gale, doesn’t claim to be completely factual (and how could it be, when the source material is from the 18th century), one creative inclusion bothered me:

In the play, Angélique is repeatedly raped by her master François, and it is implied that she gives birth to a child fathered by him. Though I couldn’t find any historical rumours that this had taken place in real life, and the father on record for Angélique’s children is listed as fellow slave César (played with subtlety, depth and range by Tristan D. Lalla), I can understand its inclusion in this play. This is the story of a black slave woman, a group that is underrepresented in the telling of their stories and for whom rape, and the subsequent fathering of children, by white masters was most certainly a frequent occurrence.

Where I take issue that it is then used as THE major point of contention between Angelique and Francois’ wife Thérèse. I think, in a story that already has so much drama and intrigue, it’s a bit lazy to then add as a major plot point, a shift away from Angelique’s real struggle, towards a jealousy fight between women arguing over the affections of a shitty guy. It reinforces the stereotype of women as petty and jealous, and having nothing more of substance to do or think about than the affections of a man.

In fact, this same theme is echoed again between Angelique and Manon, a Panis-Native slave, who in this play rejects Angélique’s friendship and sells her out at trial over Manon’s love of César, who in turn loves Angélique. According to the historical record, Manon more likely tried to divert suspicion to Angélique for self-preservation as she herself could have been severely punished if suspicion had fallen on her own shoulders.

However, I suppose pitting women against each other over a guy once again adds easy intrigue and a familiar stereotype. Despite the historical setting of the play, it’s 2017, and I think we can do better.

Overall, Angelique is a skillful and extremely important retelling of a chapter in Montreal history that is conspicuously absent from most history books. It is powerful, visceral and necessary, and with tickets starting at $22, much more accessible than the majority of professional theatrical productions.

Bring a date, bring your mom, bring a history or theatre buff, a lover of Montreal, or even your favorite arsonist, but don’t miss Angélique’s first (and certainly not last) tour in Montreal. It is a tribute to a powerful and strong woman who was persecuted until the end by a society that did not value her.

Only one question remains in the fiery tale: Did she do it?

“At this point, I don’t really care…if she did it or not,” says Ms. Brizard. “The fact is, she didn’t have a fair chance. Period. And that’s how I approach the work. She didn’t get a fair trial, a fair chance, as a woman, as a black woman. Period.”

Angélique presented by Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau d’Hote Théâtre runs through April 2nd, 2017 at the Segal Centre, 5170 ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine,  tickets available through the Segal Centre box office

Happy Spring Break to those who celebrate the occasion! There’s some great shows going on this week both big and small and an important tribute taking place at Crobar this weekend that those in the music community wont want to miss.

So if you’re looking to hit up a show then look no further!

Dinosaur Jr. + Public Access TV

Head over to the Théâtre Corona on Thursday night and check out alt rock royalty in the form of Dinosaur Jr. who kick off a month long North American tour right here in our fair city. These guys are still going strong having released their eleventh full length studio album Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not last year.

Joining them will be New York post-punk rockers Public Access TV  who you should really get to know if you don’t already. In the meantime here is the just released video by Dinosaur Jr. which documents the band’s life on the road in its present state.

Dinosaur Jr. and Public Access tv play Théâtre Corona, 2490 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Thursday, March 9th, 8:30pm (Doors at 7:30), $27 through the box office or $30 at the door, all ages.

RobFest 2017

This weekend Crobar will be hosting the second annual RobFest, a three day event of “Local Music and Live Painting”  put on by GrimeyMTL in order to commemorate the life of the dear departed “Bubs” the former owner of the establishment who passed away suddenly back in 2015. There will be 25 bands hitting the stage in fast succession on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, so check out the event page for a more detailed look at the lineup.

Adding another level to all the mayhem will be that fact that there is also live painting which will be taking place throughout the bar on all three days. The intention is to create a mural in honour of Bubs as well as other pieces.

It should also be noted that despite the insane amount of stuff going on, tickets are being kept to a very reasonable $7 for one night or $15 for the whole weekend.

 

RobFest with various artists plays Crobar, 1221 Crescent Street, Friday, March 10th to Sunday March 12th, 7:00pm (Friday and Saturday), 5:00pm (Sunday) $7 (for the day) $15 (for the weekend) only at the door.

 

Harrow Fair

On Thursday night Canadian Folk/Country/Rock duo Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner, who go by the name Harrow Fair, will be coming to Pointe Claire for a special intimate house concert. They released their debut album Call To Arms in October of 2016 which has been picking up steam ever since and so they have decided to take the show on the road for a North American tour with three stops on consecutive days here in Quebec.

While big venues and blaring music has its place, there’s something to be said for a more intimate approach to the concert experience. There’s even going to be a potluck dinner before the show! Space will obviously be very limited and only people who buy tickets in advance will be let in so check out the event page for more details.

Also check out this recently released version of Wicked Game which should give you a good indication of the power and intensity of this duo.

Harrow Fair play House Concert, Thursday, March 9th, 7:30pm (potluck at 6:00pm), $20 for adults, $10 for children available through box office.

 

The Good Ol’ Blues Brothers Boys Band + Slamboni + The Brieface + The Whiskey Chase + Taken for Granted

On Saturday, Crobar is hosting a full evening of rock and roll hosted by Vendetta Management and Entertainment  with no less than five bands set to take the stage. So check out The Good Ol’ Blues Brothers Boys Band, The Brieface, The Whiskey Chase, Taken for Granted and this week’s winner of coolest band name Slamboni who are coming all the way from Toronto to play some ska for you!

 The Good Ol’ Blues Brothers Boys Band, Slamboni, The Brieface, The Whiskey Chase, Taken for Granted play Piranha Bar, 680 Sainte-Catherine St. West, Saturday, March 11th, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:00), $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

* Featured image courtesy Harrow Fair

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Jazz fans were treated to quite the evening of music last Saturday when guitar legend Al Di Meola took to the stage at Salle Pierre Mercure for a full evening of music. Being the only act on the bill can be a daunting task for some, but when you have over 40 years of material to choose from the only problem is finding the right mix of tunes to play.

Most of the evening was spent bouncing back and forth between celebrating Al’s classic album Elegant Gypsy which turns 40 this year and playing some of the newer tracks off of his most recent release Elysium. With the exception of the first few songs of the second set, this was a mostly electric guitar night featuring the full band… and what a band it was!

Its core was a powerful rhythm section composed of Luis Alicea on drums, Elias Tona on bass and percussionist Gumbi Ortiz whose high energy and constant movement around the stage brought both his fellow musicians and the crowd to life.

Rouding out the lineup were pianist Philippe Saisse and violinist Evan Garr who stood out as a force to be reckoned with in the future. On many of the songs Garr would share the solo duties and could clearly hold his own as a master of speed and technique.

The story of how Garr came to be up on stage with one of his idols is inspiring and has a Montreal connection. Watch the clip below for the story in Al’s own words and a small example of Garr’s brilliance at playing the violin.

As great as the backing band was, this show was a brilliant example of Di Meola’s mastery of his craft. A performer who has never shyed away from complexity, speed and technical wizardry, this performance pushed the limits of how well someone can play music live.

Although clearly a jazz-latin style performer, it was interesting to see a little bit of rock and roll as a root influence. One such example is Al’s re-imagining of some Beatles tunes, most notably the famous McCartney guitar ballad Blackbird which he played as a solo acoustic number on Saturday. There was also a brief full band version of the Zeppelin classic Black Dog with Garr doing his “Robert Plant impression” by substituting the lead vocal part for violin.

If you missed it don’t fret. Al has a long time love affair with Montreal and is a good friend of the Jazzfest, so there will certainly be more chances to catch him in the future.

* Photos by Stephanie Laughlin

Anti-Muslim hatred and domestic right-wing terrorism has hit close to home for many Montrealers late this morning/early this afternoon. Concordia University has evacuated two buildings on its downtown SGW Campus, the EV Building and the Hall Building, after receiving a bomb threat targeting Muslim students:

A group calling itself the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada sent the threat in letter form to news outlets including the Montreal Gazette, claiming that “now that President Trump is in office south of the border, things have changed.”

Concordia is currently hosting Islamic Awareness Week until Thursday. The letter threatens bomb detonations every day until Friday unless Concordia bans what the bigots call Muslim activities (including prayer spaces in the Hall Building).

For now, these buildings are being evacuated. Classes may resume at 6pm if no explosives are found.

* Featured image from Periscope Live video via Global News

Panelists Ellana Blacher and David DesBaillets discuss Montreal’s new official status as a sanctuary city and the Oscars with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup. Community Calendar and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: New Montreal flag, M-103 and Islamophobia, Milo’s downfall and trusting the mainstream media

Panelists:

Ellana Blacher: Spoken word artist

David DesBaillets: Law student and blogger

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 in Montreal

LISTEN:

WATCH:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons