This week, we got a little foretaste of what’s ahead for Montreal this summer if you want to get just about anywhere.

If you tried to cross the Mercier Bridge on Wednesday morning, you were in for a rough ride: a six-kilometre backlog, because a contractor delayed the reopening of the bridge, because the concrete he poured was not dry. Two hours to cross. You would have thought they would have poured concrete often enough to have it all figured out. Another fine moment for Transport Quebec.

Welcome to summer in Montreal. Even the guy hired by the city to oversee traffic flow thinks it will be a long, hot summer behind the wheel.

“Well it's going to be the hell. Well, not necessarily hell, but we have to do it. It's going to be difficult, for sure,” said Montreal traffic czar Pierre Lacasse.

We all know that work has to be done, but all too often it seems the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. It’s getting worse every year.

 Try getting downtown from the west on most weekends. Forget it! And would they even consider adding more commuter trains? Not a chance.

This is a great city that knows how to enjoy summer like no other. It’s just a shame that too often you can’t get there from here.

A new hope for the separatists

The next great hope for the separatists got sworn in this week at the National Assembly.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the former student leader, had the Canadian flag removed from the room and then proceeded to adjust the oath of allegiance, adding the words ‘Free Republic of Quebec.’  

He then stood up in Question Period on Wednesday to ask what’s on everyone’s mind these days about the legitimacy of independence.  Haven’t you heard the heated discussion at the bus stops? I’m sure the voters of his economically-challenged Gouin riding are just itching for another shot at the Promised Land.

The premier responded that Quebec would need to endure at least a decade of catastrophe if it ever left the federation. Indeed it would be probably even longer than that – a price no one would be prepared to pay.

Except perhaps the dreamers and the radicals like Nadeau-Dubois who built his reputation with red squares and sometimes violent protests which plagued our city for months. He may have big plans. My guess is that unlike his glory days as a student leader, nobody is really listening or really cares. 


We’re in the dark ages now

Barack Obama must shake his head everyday just thinking about who has taken over his chair in the Oval Office. It’s like regressing from the age of reason to the dark ages.

Seeing him in Montreal this week reminded us just how much the conversation has changed. And as he reminded us of the need for a free and independent press and warned about the dangers of strongmen and fake news. Perhaps, though, what many people may remember is his suggestion that maybe we should rely a little more on X chromosomes and a little less on Y.

“I did conclude at a certain point that if you just put women in charge of every country for just about two years, the world would make a huge leap forward and just be better off, generally,” he said in his speech.  

Not a bad idea, because clearly what’s happening now in America and in many parts of the world just isn’t working. But moreover, his visit this week showed us that thought, rationality, logic and compassion need not be strangers and are essential in our democratic discourse.